Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #80-71

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.

Take a look at today's picks:

80) Lois Lane #80
January, 1968 -- Curt Swan and Neal Adams

Well, here's a coincidence -- two covers in a row that have characters ripping through the cover to show the interior of the comic. I particularly like this effort from the unusual team of Curt Swan and Neal Adams, as Lois tears the "Superman's Girlfriend" part of her logo off to show she's a modern woman. In fact, this isuse (and to a lesser extent the one that preceded it) is kind of the first time Lois appears modern rather than a throwback to the early 50's. In fact, let's face it, she looks really hot here, to the point where her new look has the unintended effect of making Swan's Superman look old fashioned. A clever, fun cover that also is visual evidence of DC finally reacting to changing times.

79) House of Secrets #88
November, 1970 -- Neal Adams

Another Gothic classic from Neal Adams, who seems to have enjoyed painting these covers almost as much as I enjoy looking at them. This one is pretty much a prototype for a Gothic romance/horror cover, what with the frightened and mysterious girl in white fleeing from the moon-shrouded, shadowy mansion. This cover sets and captures the mood perfectly.

78) Superman #24
October, 1943 -- Jack Burnley

One of the great early Superman covers, this patriotic effort from Superman came, as you might expect, during World War II. The black is nice, as is the fact that the entire cover isn't black; I like the (presumed) sunrise on the horizon backlighting both Superman and the modern and literally shining American city. A legitimate classic of the medium.

77) Sea Devils #2
December, 1961 -- Russ Heath and Jack Adler

Speaking of classic, Sea Devils has long been renowned among collectors almost entirely due to the series of beautifully rendered covers from Russ Heath and Jack Adler. Honestly, from my limited reading experience with Sea Devils, I have to think that these covers pretty much kept the series afloat as the stories were nothing to get excited about. But this, the best of the Sea Devils covers, is something to get excited about, as Adler uses all of his inking and coloring skills to turn Heath's always-detailed and precise pencils into something approaching photographic quality.

76) Detective Comics #476
April, 1978 -- Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin

I know what you've been thinking: where are all the Joker covers?! Well, they're finally here, starting with a cover that proves the Joker is so awesome he doesn't even need to be on the cover to make it great. The first of many Joker covers to come, this cover also has one of the best known and most effective uses of cover text on a superhero cover. Just seeing the name "Joker" written large against the backdrop of those grinning corpses is enough to give readers a shiver.

75) Mystery in Space #75
May, 1962 -- Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

Here's yet another classic Mystery in Space cover from the team of Infantino and Anderson, this time from the famous crossover between Adam Strange and the Justice League of America. By now you've probably all realized that I like covers with strong geometric design elements, especially ones that also utilize color to emphasize that design, so naturally I had to select this cool image for the countdown. I'm not sure why Roy Orbison is trying to conquer Rann, but I love the effect of the sonic waves radiating from his gong. Cool stuff.

74) All-American Comics #16
July, 1940 -- Sheldon Moldoff

Sheldon Moldoff lands his second cover in as many days, this time for the first appearance of the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. It's a testament to Shelly that he was chosen for such high profile assignments (you may recall from a few days ago that he also did the cover for Flash Comics #1, with the first appearances of both Flash and Hawkman on it). Though this isn't the only or the best golden age Green Lantern cover on our list (spoilers!) it's an iconic image that is also a very strong cover in its own right.

73) Batman #244
September, 1972 -- Neal Adams

Three words: Shirtless. Desert. Duel.

72) Detective Comics #457
March, 1976 -- Dick Giordano

This is truly one of the greatest images of Batman ever drawn. Giordano brilliantly places the flashback to batman's origin and the murder of his parents symbolically inside Batman's head as a perfect way of setting the stage for the classic retelling of that timeless story. Really, a cover that deserves to be top twenty. Except, everything about the cover other than the drawing itself is an utter disaster. The little line across the top probably seemed like a good idea when they designed it, but they basically jammed it with superfluous and useless text and junk. Then there's the horrible decision to shrink the Detective logo and jam a Batman logo in next to it, which is not only visually disastrous but also completely unnecessary; every cover of Detective has a giant drawing of Batman on it so it's obvious that this is "Batman's" comic. I mean, if you don't recognize Batman on the cover, then the Batman logo will be meaningless to you anyway, right? They could not have bollixed the design of this cover worse if they wanted to. No justice for brilliant art.

71) The Brave and the Bold #71
May, 1965 -- Gil Kane

What was that I was saying about designs emphasizing geometric shapes and color usage? Oh yeah. Well, here's another cover from Gil Kane, who is usually better known for his dynamic figure work. This time, though, he designs the living hell out of this cover, turning what could have been a pretty boring concept into something really sweet through the use of color and shape. Top notch. I also approve of the decision to let Green Lantern's logo go across the whole cover, as usually they bunch the logos up next to each other and it looks crowded and subpar. This style works a lot better for me, at least in this instance.

Tomorrow: #70-61 brings you excitement like you've never known. Batman! Superman! And believe it or not, a cover from the last ten years! Get psyched, you comics-loving fools!

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