Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #150-141

Welcome to the first day of our hotly anticipated 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.

On with the show!

150) Justice League of America #9
February, 1962 -- Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson

It's one of the most iconic images of the early Justice League (and Silver Age DC Superheroes in general): the heroes of the JLA slowly being transformed into trees by an alien meteorite perfectly embodies the spirit of those early Gardner Fox stories. The only reason it isn't higher on my list is that there are several other covers from the same time period that are also famous for basically the same reason. But this is still a cool cover.

149) Our Fighting Forces #130
April, 1971 -- Joe Kubert

While The Losers in Our Fighting Forces isn't as well known as Kubert's efforts on Enemy Ace or Sgt. Rock, it does feature some of his most innovative cover work. That's because, as you can see in this moody example, from #125-141 the series didn't have a logo; instead, Kubert worked a new Losers masthead into each cover, specially designed to mesh with the artwork. All of these are awesome, especially the bomb logo on #127, the sail logo on #139 and the ocean logo on #132 (which nearly made the list), but this cover, which also features a classic Kubert "trap about to spring," is my favorite.

148) Wonder Woman #72
March, 1993 -- Brian Bolland

This image of Wonder Woman by Brian Bolland was instantly iconic; from the moment it was published, it was hailed as one of the most powerful depictions of Wonder Woman ever produced. I have to admit, the hair is just a touch 90's for me, but that's a tiny nitpick; this is a strong, powerful and sexy Wonder Woman. What else do you want?

147) The Brave and the Bold #28
March, 1960 -- Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson

The first appearance of the Justice League of America, this otherwise kind of boring cover is greatly enhanced by the central presence of Starro the Conqueror. I mean, he's a giant pink alien starfish with a target in the middle. That's a striking image, and of course, this is an important comic, which has led to this being iconic despite its artistic shortcomings. It's not the best Starro cover ever (see: Justice League of America #190) but it deserves a place on the list.

146) Girls' Love Stories #60
February, 1960 -- Bob Oksner (?) and Bernard Sachs

I'm not actually sure who penciled this cover (Oksner is the best guess the experts over at CBR could come up with), but it's a great example of compressed storytelling; the cover itself has a whole story to tell without ever even cracking the pages. The moody rainstorm, the woman pounding on the door, the bus dept sign, the guy in the background coming out of his car -- it's all perfectly designed and executed. How could you not want to read this comic after a tease like that?

145) Superman #75
January, 1993 -- Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding

I don't like this cover. I've never liked this cover. And, not to put too fine a point on it, I will never like this cover. It's blocky and angular and just... ugh. I hate this damn cover. However, there's no arguing that it's one of the most iconic covers of the past two decades, not to mention in this history of Superman -- which is saying something. Millions of people who have never read a comic know this image from the media coverage surround the Death of Superman storyline. So despite my undying loathing of this cover (by Dan Jurgens, whom I usually love) I had to include it. Blah.

144) Showcase #22
October, 1959 -- Gil Kane

The first appearance of Hal Jordan, this impeccably executed cover has all the elements to be a great cover -- nice, clean design, dramatic composition and smooth figure work from Kane that still looks modern over half a century later. In fact, given all of that as well as the importance of the issue, it seems like this cover should be a lot more exciting than it actually is. I think this is a cover that everyone appreciates but nobody really loves, you know? This is one cover that logically deserves a higher ranking but just kind of falls flat for reasons I can't explain.

143) DC Super Stars #11
January, 1977 -- Gray Morrow

There are a few things I like about this cover beyond Zatanna's fishnets (which, I might add, aren't even the best fishnets to appear on our list). I like how the text curves around Zatanna's bubble to help emphasize the shape of the cover; and I also like the monochrome demons swarming over her shield, though I do wish they had picked a bolder color for them instead of that godawful hue they used. Overall, though, this cover and its one-off "Magic" logo are a high point of the late 70's, an otherwise desolate wasteland for DC covers.

142) House of Mystery #277
February, 1980 -- Steve Ditko

Nine out of ten dentists agree that this is the creepiest Ditko cover of the last thirty years. It's a shame that Ditko turned into an addled hermit, because this cover shows that he still could put out awesome work when he wasn't composing manifestos on a pre-war typewriter. Thanks to the comparatively advanced printing and coloring available in 1980, this is also one of the cleanest looking Ditko covers you're going to find. It's a shame we didn't get more stuff like this.

141) Flash Comics #1
January, 1940 -- Sheldon Moldoff

A legitimate milestone in comics history, Flash Comics #1 is woefully ignored compared to comics like Action #1 and Detective #27. This comic is not only the first appearance of Flash, but it's also the first appearances of both Hawkman and Johnny Thunder. And it features a nice cover by Shelly Moldoff, who was turning out some fantastic stuff in the 1940's. His best work, though, came on his intricately detailed Hawkman covers (later issues of Flash alternated between Flash and Hawkman covers). So as much as I enjoy the design here (yellow cover! little circles with tiny other characters in them!), the unwarranted anonymity of this cover relegates it to a lower slot than it might deserve.

Tomorrow: #140-131! Teen Titans! Haunted Tank! And the first of many, many Batman covers! Be there!

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Hell of an undertaking. I look forward to the rest of the list.