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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Top Ten Comic Covers of 2015

Over 2015, I picked out more than 450 of my favorite comic book covers on a weekly basis, spanning artists of all kinds and many different publishers. As always, it was very difficult to narrow that down to just ten, first getting down to 50, then 30, then ten. There were a lot of fantastic ones by artists that I adore that just barely didn't make the cut, but I feel confident that these ten will be the ones that comic fans remember from the year. Enjoy!

Convergence #2
by Jae Lee

A gorgeously modern take on a classic Flash trope. The color design is quite excellent; apart from the yellow and red in the title to evoke the Flash, the bare purple background that also shades the gunmen gives it an interesting balance and a weird amount of depth despite the lack of background detail. However, the best thing about this cover is the cartooning. The body language of the woman is cartoonish and funny, while we're able to gather a tone and voice of the perpetrators almost entirely from behind their heads. Truly excellent work that stands well on its own as a new classic despite the entirely forgettable series it was a part of.

Detective Comics #44
by Cliff Chiang

I love Cliff Chiang, and I love the look of the Golden Age. Put those together, and you get one wonderful cover! The character work is fantastic and really captures the Golden Age look and feel, and the green tinted color gives it a really unique retro tone. The canted angle gives it a sense of urgent action, and the look of Gotham that recalls the noir feel of Batman: The Animated Series is superb. Would love to have this one hanging on my wall!

Infinite Loop #1
by Stephanie Hans
I've been an ardent supporter of this series from the start, which I'm sure helps the case of this cover, but it's noteworthy all on its own. The body language of the characters and the flowing gown really breathe with movement and a sense of adventure. The pencil work on the shading and sheer material is quite beautiful, as are the interesting color choices. The stylistic touch of breaking the character into panels that dissipate into the air gives us an idea of the sci-fi nature of the story without words and captures the feel of the series.

Limbo #2
by Caspar Wijngaard

I was interested in this series as soon as it was compared to a David Lynch/David Cronenberg crossover, and this cover captures the Cronenberg aspect perfectly. It uses all manner of VHS tech to create a religious-themed image in a pretty brilliant way, most of all in the shaman with remote control symbols painted on his face. Combine that with the distinctive color choice–how often do you see a yellow to pink gradient on comic covers?–and you've got something really nice.

Supreme Blue Rose #7
by Tula Lotay

The covers for this whole series were pretty excellent, and connect in a really interesting way, but this one for the final issue really stands out. The character work is haunting, the dull, bitter greens are really interesting, and the design work is stellar, but it's the way the cover makes purely visual connections to the story and to comic book ideas that really puts it over the top. The connected circles that cross all the covers recall the idea of a connected, complex multiverse, and the lightning that is escaping the subject's mouth is a clear reference to characters powered by words (Captain Marvel, most obviously). How that part connects seamlessly to the title almost like a word balloon is just plain brilliant.

Spider-Woman #9
by Javier Rodriguez

I've loved Rodriguez's work on Spider-Woman from the get-go; his clean lined style and excellent character acting is a huge selling point for the book. What makes this cover stand out is how it tells a story, and more specifically the tone of the series, with a single image, and does so in a specific order. The top half portrays a superheroine at her prime, striking a dramatic, serious pose, with the title finishing off this portrait. Below that as the eye moves down, we get a clearer picture of the story, with the goofy characters in the background in a comedically ridiculous argument about directions. This cover is a perfect example of what the best covers should do: look beautiful, have a great concept, and tell a story about what's inside the book.

Robocop #12
by Todd Slater

From a purely design standpoint, this is one of the coolest looking covers of the year. The limited color choice not only look like the red and blue police lights, but also give the character a metallic sort of look and recalls classic Tron design. It's the detail of the individual elements that really make it stand out though, with parts looking like computer electronics diagrams while others seem to be distorted numbers from a digital clock. This is totally gorgeous, and the meticulous design really deserves some attention.

Dead Drop #2
by Raul Allen

Raul Allen has done some career best this year, particularly on this Valiant miniseries. The design here has a really wonderful Saul Bass look, but doesn't rely completely on that flat, illustrative style. Rather, it looks at the scene from a unique angle that mimics that style in an interesting way. On top of that, it has a surprising amount of depth with the way the flying cash seems to be coming towards the viewer. It looks deceptively simple, but captures a tone and sense of time that few covers are able to accomplish.

Mind MGMT #30
by Matt Kindt

First off, this one deserves attention for the sheer amount of time and physical force it required–I know that Kindt went through a lot of erasers to create this image of his main antagonist, The Eraser. Beyond that, it stands out as one of the most inventive multimedia covers in quite some time, and is unique in the series as Kindt began to experiment a bit with format. It's a brilliant concept, and what's most impressive is how perfect it is in its execution: the image, made completely of used eraser shavings, looks exactly like the character it is meant to portray, and is immediately recognizable.

Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier #7
by Mike Del Mundo

Del Mundo is, for my money, the most brilliant concept artist in comics. His covers are often simple in execution but genius in their inception, and always leave me wondering how nobody else thought of the idea. This cover, despite having no character work whatsoever, is incredibly smart and eye-catching while telling a story and immaculately capturing the concept and tone of the series. It does this through clever stylistic text that harkens back to both war-time propaganda and cult movies on top of its visual ideas. This cover does everything a cover should do, and does it to perfection.

That's it for 2015! Thanks to all the wonderful artists that made this another wonderful year in comic art! If you think we missed a really great cover, let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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