Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #100-91

Welcome back to the Top 150 DC Covers of All Time countdown. If you have any questions about what criteria was used to select the covers, you can read the ground rules here in the countdown Prologue. For a complete listing of selections, check out the Top 150 DC Covers Master List. And as always, I strongly recommend clicking on the covers to see larger, better and more detailed versions of these classic covers.

Let's kick off the top 100 in style with...

100) Limited Collectors' Edition C-51
August, 1977 -- Neal Adams

Considering this title was basically a bunch of glorified reprints, the series had a surprisingly high concentration of classic original Batman covers; besides this cover and yesterday's example (also from neal Adams), this one from Jim Aparo nearly made the list as well. In the end, though, this famous version of the battle with Ra's al Ghul ended up at the top of the Batman Limited Collectors' Edition heap. I couldn't justify placing it any higher overall, though, despite the image's popularity with those limited collectors. That's because it is a reprint -- of a comic with an even more famous cover. When the cover isn't even the most iconic version of a specific story, it's really lucky to even make a list like this in the first place.

99) House of Secrets #105
February, 1973 -- Jack Sparling

I pretty much love everything about this cover. The composition, with the tranquil scene of kids fishing in the background contrasted with the skull in the foreground, is great and is perfectly served by the muted coloring. That, in turn, contrasts with the bold red banner at the top, which is punctuated by the "double bullet" design style during the very brief time when it wasn't being screwed up by extra blurbs all over the masthead and the issue number jammed into the price point circle. Just an excellent cover all around.

98) The Flash #203
February, 1971 -- Neal Adams

This is one of the more atypical Neal Adams covers on the list, which is part of why it works so well. Usually I have a pretty strong dislike for photo covers, but the concept behind this one works great, partially because on the Flash's world Adams draws with his usual photo-realistic style (deftly colored by Jack Adler to add to the effect) and partially because the alien world is one of the few instances where Adams isn't obviously being Adams. Instead he seems to be purposely channeling Steve Ditko, whose style is about as different from Adams as possible. It adds up to a clever concept expertly executed.

97) The Spectre #9
April, 1969 -- Nick Cardy

Ah, Nick Cardy is just so damn awesome, isn't he? Here's The Spectre, making one of several appearances on this list. The Spectre is interesting because, like The Joker, his snow-white skin not only gives him an inherently dramatic appearance but also leads to a lot of black covers to better contrast with him. Plus, they both get a lot of symbolic covers as well -- except, with the Spectre, being gigantic isn't necessarily symbolic because he actually does that sometimes. This cover is a beautiful example of Cardy and Spectre at their best; I love the book of judgment with all the presumed sinners swarming over it to escape Spectre's giant hand. And I also love the fact that they contoured the logo to fit like a puzzle piece with the artwork. Classic.

96) Justice League of America #10
March, 1962 -- Murphy Anderson

We kicked off our countdown with one of the many classic Justice League gimmick covers from the first few years of that book's existence. This, though, has to be tops on the chart -- the infamous Fingers of Felix Faust cover from Murphy Anderson. Beyond the flat-out bizarre nature of this striking image, it also happens to be a yellow cover, which as you all know is my favorite, so this is a winner all around.

95) Superboy #160
October, 1969 -- Neal Adams

You're probably pretty tired of me talking about Neal Adams by now, so I'll just say that I really like both the dejected and morose pose for Superboy in the foreground and, especially, the giant Earth hovering in the background. It really drives home the isolation Superboy is expressing and also reminds us just how alien he is. Cool idea.

94) Mystery in Space #82
March, 1963 -- Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

Here's another classic from the team of Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, who combined on a number of epic Adam Strange covers over the years. Of all the cool work they did on Mystery in Space (more of which is still to come), this one probably best illustrates the central dilemma of Strange, the man of two worlds, as he has to decide between his home planet and his adopted planet, each of which is given a different dramatic death as well as its own color scheme. Throw in a giant magnifying glass burning Rann's citizens like so many ants and you have a Silver Age classic.

93) Justice League of America #75
November, 1969 -- Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

Six years later, Infantino and Anderson were still churning out hits as evidenced by this great Justice League cover. The black background helps, but what really sets this apart is the unique composition, where we just get a good long look at Black Canary's signature fishnet stockings as she looms right off the top of the cover over her defeated Justice League teammates. Now that's the way to make an entrance.

92) Detective Comics #590
September, 1988 -- Norm Breyfogle

When new Batman flans flocked to comic stores in the summer of 1989 they were in luck, because it just so happened that Norm Breyfogle was in the middle of a great run as artist on Detective Comics. And the best of the bunch, from a year earlier, is this awesome image of Batman summoning his flock of bats in a decidedly unusual location -- London, rather than Gotham. A terrific mood piece.

91) All-New Collectors' Edition C-62
1978 -- Neal Adams

Holy jeez, guys, four Neal Adams covers in one day. But before you demand that I remove my lips from Neal's ass, I suggest you blame DC for assigning him this project. You see, this was originally done by Joe Kubert, but someone decided it looked a little too lean and somber, which is kind of like saying you don't like Picasso's stuff because it's too cubist. So they took his layout and had Adams redraw it, adding in a number of famous celebrities from the time period. The result is a cultural touchstone that is even more impressive if you look at the entire gatefold cover rather than just the front, which is all that is usually reproduced.

Tomorrow:It's #90-81 with Jimmy Olsen! Tarzan! Deadman! And the shocker of the century: the senator's been shot!!!

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