Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #140-131

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.

Now, let's see what Day Two has in store for us:

140) Our Army at War #15
October, 1953 -- Irv Novick

This gem from the early days of DC's Big Five war books features typical guns-blazing action with some very atypical -- and shockingly bold -- coloring and inking. The dramatic fire on board this bomber gives Novick a chance to really play with the lighting and he does it to great effect; the fact that you can see the gunner behind him still firing at attacking fighters just adds to the tension. You almost feel like you might crash the plane yourself if you set down the comic.

139) Batman Family #17
May, 1978 -- Michael Kaluta

"Stalk the night shrouded streets with The Batman Family... if you dare!" Well, DC, when you put it that way, I think I'll just hide under my bedcovers instead, thank you very much. Luckily, Kaluta was able to contain his own fear long enough to provide this (literally) all-star look at the members of said Batman Family. Even the somewhat blah barbell masthead for the $1 comic line doesn't detract too much from this well-designed effort.

138) Wonder Woman #179
December, 1968 -- Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano

In an attempt to jump start some of their more hidebound heroes to counteract marvel's surging sales, DC revamped several icons in the late 60's including Wonder Woman. The cover for the first new issue, #178, is a fairly boring affair, but the real revamp is seen in full effect on this great cover from Sekowsky and Giordano.
The great new era logo, which replaced one of the least interesting logos in DC history, really sends this effort over the top.

137) Justice League of America #62
May, 1968 -- Mike Sekowsky and Jack Abel

Speaking of Sekowsky, here's one of his best and most unusual covers. it's like the end of Seven, except you yourself are the severed head in the box. It's disturbing. And I love the expressions on the Justice Leaguer's faces. The whole thing is creepy and disorienting. How could you not buy this comic if you saw it on the stands?

136) Green Lantern #40
October, 1965 -- Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson

Kane returns with his second Green Lantern cover so far (but not his last), this time also featuring the golden age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. This is a key issue, not just for the meeting of the two Green Lanterns, but also because it reveals the origins of the Guardians of the Universe for the first time. That might be enough by itself to land the comic on our list, but luckily, it's graced by some typically smooth and fluid figure work by Kane, who drew some of the most limber and graceful heroes in comics history.

135) G. I. Combat #130
July, 1965 -- Russ Heath

Surprisingly enough, this well known cover from the Haunted Tank strip in G. I. Combat wasn't done by the usual suspect, Joe Kubert, but instead by longtime pro Russ Heath. The colorist here wisely decided to go with a monotone hue to make the giant, ghostly image of Attila the Hun seem almost translucent against the red background. A striking image made even more striking by its total incongruity (which, by the way, I addressed in an earlier edition of Ask the Vault if anyone is interested).

134) Teen Titans #23
October, 1969 -- Nick Cardy

Less than a year after Wonder Woman got the reboot treatment, Wonder Girl followed suit with this cover from Nick Cardy. Donna Troy's new design was as modern and forward as the design of the Teen Titans book in general at the time; while not as dramatic an overhaul as the new kung fu Wonder Woman, this hip and fresh take Wonder Girl made her significantly more relevant to teens of the day (and as a result, this new version was quite a bit more successful overall than Wonder Woman's revamp). I also like the nod to DC history of having Donna jumping through a poster of herself, which echoes the tradition of having new characters leap through a paper hoop like circus animals. Very nice.

133) Superman #307
January, 1977 -- Neal Adams

Don't look now, but here's the first of our slew of covers from Neal Adams. By the time Adams did this cover in 1977 he was no longer a regular cover artist for DC, but he clearly didn't miss a beat over the years. The design of this cover, with Supergirl so far in the foreground that most of her body is off the page, helps frame the shocking image of Kandor being smashed to hell and Superman's horrified reaction in the background. Excellent composition.

132) All-Star Comics #3
Winter 1940-41 -- Everett E. Hibbard

DC's version of the knights of the round table gather here for the first time to form the first superhero team in comics history. I like the nod to the concept of having them sit around an actual round table, and the classic All-Star Comics logo in front of the bright yellow background is great. The figures may just be sitting there, but they also seem like they're ready for business as they stare out at the reader. And I don't even mind the big text box roll call at the bottom either, though you have to feel bad for Johnny Thunder, as he made the list but not the team or the cover. And thus was fated to be a second banana forever. Poor sap.

131) Weird War Tales #8
November, 1972 -- Neal Adams

Another Neal Adams effort and one of many covers I decided to include before I realized they were actually drawn by Adams. What I like best about this Weird War cover is the design decision to drop the logo down from the top of the book so that the giant golem thing is peering out over the top of it. This really emphasizes his height and makes him a lot scarier than if they had redrawn the cover to allow the cover to stay at its usual place up at the top of the cover. Honestly, it makes the whole thing and turns this from just a cool image into a true top notch cover.

Tomorrow: #130-121! Romance! Horror! War! And more Neal Adams! Plus: the death of a hero! Be there!

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