Game Review: Diablo 3

Diablo 3 is out. But is it a game? Or is it the most brilliant money making scam in internet history?

Movie Review: The Avengers

Okay, okay, I posted my Avengers review. Get off my back already, geez.

The Most Important Comic Book You've Never Heard Of

Action Comics #1. Detective Comics #27. Why is All-American Men of War #89 as important as these great comics -- and why have you never heard of it?.

Tales From the Vault: Lois Lane #93

If you thought Superman was a total tool before, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Mass Effect 3: The Official Review

Mass Effect 3 isn't the end of the world, it just portrays it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: The Top Ten

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, here it is, at long last: the top ten covers in DC history.

10) Watchmen #1
September, 1986 -- Dave Gibbons

I originally planned to place this cover at number two on this list -- yes, even above the cover that is actually at number two. But then something happened that changed my mind -- I actually looked at this cover again. Not that it isn't a great cover, because it is -- it introduces the great design for Watchmen, with the big bold logo down the side and the iconic smiley face button and it is, of course, expertly rendered by Dave Gibbons in an almost abstract composition. No, the problem wasn't the cover but what the cover isn't -- it isn't this, more famous cover from the Watchmen trade paperback. Which presented two issues for me. Firstly, the TPB cover is much better known simply because far more people have read Watchmen in TPB than in the original comic form; and secondly, the TPB cover is also superior artistically. It's just a masterpiece of minimalist design. So as great as this actual cover for Watchmen is, I couldn't justify it any higher than tenth because it's really just a prototype for the justly revered TPB cover.

9) Justice League of America #21
August, 1963 -- Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson

The first crossover between the Earth-1 Justice League and the Earth-2 Justice Society also provides one of the great covers in DC history, courtesy of Mike Sekowsky and, of course, Murphy Anderson, who seemed to have inked just about every awesome cover DC had during the Silver Age. I love the design of this cover; there's just something fun and almost joyful about the Justice Society coming out of that cloud, even though this issue likely caused thousands of kids to horrify their parents by attempting their own Earth-2 seances. This issue also, of course, was the first of DC's many "crisis" stories, as well as the first in the annual JSA-JLA crossovers, a tradition that would last for over two decades. Just a fun, nostalgic cover for any fan of superhero comics.

8) Justice League #1
May, 1987 -- Kevin Maguire and Terry Austin

Since its publication over twenty years ago, this shot of the JLA looking up at the viewer with folded arms and grumpy expressions has been one of the most homages and parodied covers in all of comics. I would have sworn that this logo wouldn't have worked if I hadn't seen this cover, but the art and the unusual perspective are so powerful that they elevate everything, even that unfortunate font.

7) Crisis on Infinite Earths #7
October, 1985 -- George Perez

Both the DC and Marvel countdowns were filled with Pieta-style covers (such as the famous "Robin Dies at Dawn" Batman cover we looked at last week), but they all pale in comparison to this timeless cover by the master of detail, George Perez. While his covers can occasionally be accused of being too cluttered, this time around he find the perfect balance, mixing the powerful and unforgettable central figure of the weeping Superman holding his slain cousin with the background detail of the gathered heroes of the DCU looking on in mourning. Even that wonky DC 50th Anniversary banner can't detract from this indelible cover.

6) Green Lantern / Green Arrow #76
April, 1970 -- Neal Adams

While the Silver Age belonged to Marvel, in many ways the Bronze Age belonged to DC, as the company pushed the boundaries both in terms of design as well as innovation in storytelling and developing new characters. The DC revival and the Bronze Age in general -- an entire era of comics, really -- is summed up and represented in full by this renowned cover from Neal Adams. If you want to get really deep, the shattering of Green Lantern's lantern symbolizes the way DC itself was smashing their own traditions and cliches to try and form a new paradigm through stories like this one, the first of their "relevancy" comics; a symbolism, by the way, that I think Adams completely intended. Add in the fact that it's just really cool looking; brings back the classic (and much better) Green Lantern logo from the golden age; and features the new Green Arrow in full badass mode and there's no wonder that this is one of the best known comics of the past 40 years.

5) Star Spangled War Stories #138
May, 1968 -- Joe Kubert

I know I've said this before, but this time I'm serious: you have to click on this and see it at a larger resolution. As we've discussed before, War comics aren't exactly the most popular genre these days, so you may not be familiar with this cover; and though it's the first issue of Enemy Ace's ongoing series, to be honest there's not a whole heck of a lot of historical significance to it considering that series lasted less than 15 issues. Here's what is significant: this is probably the best war cover in comics history due to the fact that it's also, in my opinion and the opinion of many others, the best cover Joe Kubert ever did. Considering he's one of the greatest legends in comics history, that's saying something.l But most of all, it's just beautiful in design, detail and execution. Look at it and you'll see why it makes the top five.

4) Superman #14
February, 1942 -- Fred Ray

I've featured this cover before basically just because I wanted to look at it, so everyone pretty much knows how much I love it. It's not just one of the best and most famous war covers to come out of the Golden Age of comics, it's also an enduring and iconic image of Superman, directly associating him with America through the symbolism of the shield and eagle. What's more American than Superman, right? but when this came out, he had only been around for four years. It's covers like this -- or rather, it was this cover -- that really began to seal that link in people's minds. And it just is so damn nice to look at.

3) Batman #9
March, 1942 -- Jack Burnley

What's interesting about this cover is that just about everyone -- not just people in comics, I mean everyone in general -- is familiar with this image, it's just that most people don't know where it came from. Not that this cover has been reproduced all that much in broader media or anything, but the idea of Batman and Robin that people have in their minds was essentially generated here; this image has been so influential that it's become pervasive to the point of almost losing the origin. Basically, this is Batman and Robin. And beyond all that, of course, is the fact that's is a really sharp, effective and beautiful cover in its own right. It's fitting that it goes back to back with Superman #14, because the two covers share a DNA; not the first appearances of the character, maybe, but the genesis of the legends.

2) Detective Comics #27
May, 1939 -- Bob Kane

I actually struggled with the placement of this cover, strange as that sounds. There are so many classic, iconic and awesome Batman covers (as we've seen just over the last two days) that it's hard to pin all the importance on a cover like this one, even if it is his first appearance. On top of that, nearly every element of this cover was swiped by Bob Kane from other sources and sort of stuck together in this (admittedly very effective) pastiche. So I moved it around several times. IN the end, though, despite my reservations, I decided I couldn't justify putting this cover anywhere other than at number two (though if I had decided to make TPB covers eligible, that Watchmen cover might have snuck in). But, here it is, probably right where it belongs after all.

1) Action Comics #1
June, 1938 -- Joe Shuster

Could there ever be any other choice?

Next: What?! Where's All-Star Superman #1?! OMG!!! NOOOOOO!! Okay, calm down, dude. Relax. In a couple days I'll be posting my inevitable follow-up where I explain why stuff like All-Star Superman #1 and Justice League of America #1 didn't make the list and I'll also answer any questions or concerns that have cropped up during the countdown. So if you think I blew anything or left any important covers off, let me know now. Who knows -- I might even change something if you're persuasive enough.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #20-11

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 get on with the top twenty!

20) All-Star Squadron #1
September, 1981 -- Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano

This is a cover that's kind of crept up on people over the years. It's not as splashy as some of the other choices on the list, but when you ask people what their favorite covers are, it comes up surprisingly often. As a result, it's been homaged several times over the years. On a personal note, I think Hawkman looks particularly cool on this cover for some reason. Maybe it's just because you don't normally see him, you know, thinking about stuff, but for whatever reason this is just a memorable, fun image.

19) Showcase #34
October, 1961 -- Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson

As we've seen, Gil Kane turned out great covers for decades, but while he has some earlier entries on our list, to me this is the earliest prototypical Kane cover. The Anderson inks do add a different feel from the later stuff that he inked himself -- the guy trapped in the bottle seems lankier than usual, almost Kubert-esque -- but overall it's just a really fine example of Kane's striking figure work. It's also the first appearance of the Silver Age Atom and for decades has been considered by fans to be one of the best covers of the Silver Age.

18) More Fun Comics #54
April, 1940 -- Bernard Baily

Our final cover to feature the Spectre is the standard by which all other Spectre covers are judged. It has most of the elements that would later be used in other great Spectre books -- the mysterious look, the symbolically (?) gigantic form -- though it doesn't have the black background so many others would use. But this one still stands out above the rest just for sheer epicness, with the biplanes flying at him and the mass of soldiers at his feet. I particularly like the plane he's clutching in his right hand. He just looks like a truly frightening, unearthly power.

17) Strange Adventures #110
November, 1959 -- Gil Kane and Jack Adler

A personal favorite, this cover was actually one of a number of "giant hand" covers DC put out during the 50's across their genre books. but none of the others have the sheer visceral whallop of this cover, thanks in part to the coloring and inking job done by Adler. On a personal note, you know those guys at comic shows who have giant poster versions of famous covers for sale, so you can frame them as art and hang them in your den or office? Of all the covers on this (or the Marvel) list, this is the one I would most like to have a framed print of. It transcends comics for me to become a wonderful artifact of a whole era's aesthetic. Just awesome.

16) Batman #11
July, 1942 -- Fred Ray and Jerry Robinson

For the eleventy-billionth day in a row, we have our requisite Joker cover and as usual, it's backed by a nice black background. At least, what little you can see of it. Most of the cover, obviously -- and most of the reason this cover is so awesome -- is covered in playing cards, the high point of which is, of course, the fact that Robin, Batman and Joker are the face cards and Batman is punching Joker so hard he's knocking him clear off the Joker card. Obviously not the last time we'd see the card motif used for Joker covers -- we've already seen another famous example earlier in the countdown -- but the first and still the best use of this simple but visually arresting concept. Just about perfectly done here.

15) Flash #123
September, 1961 -- Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

One of the most famous covers in comics history, Flash #123 re-introduced the Golden Age Flash to the world of comics after a 12 year absence and in the process revived the entire stable of Golden Age DC character by introducing the concept of Earth-2. Having alternate universes ended up being problematical in the long run, but the idea was never so simply explained as here, thanks to Infantino's depiction of the hapless construction worker calling for help to two different Flashes at the same time. This classic cover has been homaged too many times to count.

14) Batman #404
February, 1987 -- David Mazzucchelli

It's a shame that Mazzuchelli didn't produce more mainstream comics work, because he's arguably one of the best comic artists of the past thirty years. And though his output was small, just about everything he worked on has come to be regarded as a classic of the artform, including this simple but haunting cover, which kicked off Batman: Year One and the post-Crisis Batman reboot. This pretty much gives you the whole origin story in one striking image.

13) Superman #199
August, 1967 -- Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

Speaking of covers that have been homages multiple times, this latest collaboration between Infantino and Anderson is one of the most popular covers (and stories) in DC history. The action really plays to Infantino's strengths, as he goes an excellent job of depicting the two in motion, something he had perfected in his years of working on Flash. The black background, classic Superman logo and "Who is the Fastest Man Alive" text combine to provide energy that just about explodes right off the cover.

12) Batman: The Dark Knight #1
1986 -- Frank Miller

Earlier on the countdown we saw the fourth issue of Miller's acclaimed mini-series and here was are, back again with the first issue. Like the cover for issue 4, this is a testament to design and iconography, as Miller relies on the reader to pretty much know who the silhouette is and what the imagery means without actually spelling it out. It's also hard to look at this cover without almost hearing in your mind the crack of thunder with this lightning bolt, which is an interesting sensation for a purely visual medium; I have to say it's maybe the only cover on this list that made me think in terms of sound as well as sight.

11) Batman #227
December, 1970 -- Neal Adams

You guys have no idea how hard it was for me to keep this out of the top ten. From a pure artistic stand point, this may be Neal Adams' best cover for DC, and it is certainly one of his most famous. It was covers like this that helped return Batman to his dark roots after the years of TV show camp had damaged the character. This cover is also an homage to Detective #31, which appeared earlier on the list. It was a hard decision trying to figure out whether an homage should actually rank higher than the original, but I felt that the iconic status of Detective #31 was based in no small part to how popular and awesome this cover from Adams is. Based on that and just the sheer sweetness of this cover (which includes what I think is the best Batman logo ever) I had to rank this cover higher. One of the best.

Tomorrow: At last, the Top Ten!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #30-21

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.

We're getting close to the top now!

30) The Shadow #1
November, 1973 -- Michael Kaluta

Pretty much every one of Kaluta's gorgeously rendered covers for this short-lived Shadow series could have ended up on the countdown. The fact that this series didn't succeed says to me that the character is played out, because the presentation was just unbeatable. Of the lot, though, this first issue re-introduction is my favorite. if this couldn't sell comics, then it might be time to pack it in.

29) Flash #163
August, 1966 -- Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella

Over the last few days we've talked quite a bit about effective word balloons, as well as to a lesser extent text in general on a cover. But this one, which combines word balloons with graphic design to create an unforgettable combination, takes the cake. Quick question: can anyone think of cover dialogue from a Marvel book that is as memorable as the DC balloons from the last few days? I can come up with one or two examples maybe, but that's about it.

28) New Gods #1
March, 1971 -- Jack Kirby and Don Heck

Kirby's DC stuff may not have ever really caught on with the fans, and his writing is debatable, but he still knew how to knock his first issue covers out of the park. Everything about this cover seems to come from a different time period from anything else on the stands in 1971. From the font to just the sheer size of the logo, the way the blurbs are laid out along the top, the photo style background -- this was just beyond modern and even now looks like it comes, not from our past, but from some alternate comics publishing world that was never quite realized. One of the best examples of how DC was pushing the envelope design-wise during that time.

27) House of Mystery #174
June, 1968 -- Nick Cardy

In 1968, DC decided to suddenly revive -- or create out of thin air -- their entire line of horror comics. I'm not entirely sure what this was in response to -- perhaps a loosening of the comics code restrictions? -- but as a result, they relaunched both House of Secrets and House of Mystery as horror books. This cover from Nick Cardy marks the first issue of this new horror era, complete with a great new logo and the memorable tag line above the logo. I usually love half-frame covers like this, though this is one instance where we debatably lose something by not seeing the top of the door. Maybe that's just me. But, anyway, top of door or not, this is an awesomely evocative image that provides the perfect graphic representation of the way DC was inviting kids to try their new horror books starting with this issue. Perfect concept, perfectly executed.

26) Showcase #79
December, 1968 -- Jay Scott Pike

Less, as they say, is more, and this almost minimalist effort from Jay Scott Pike is a perfect example. This is just an artist beautifully drawing a figure and letting that speak for itself; the little frogmen on the bottom half and the bubbles in the top help balance things a bit, but even the editor's realized this is all about Dolphin and as a result they ever came up with a cool, simple, small logo to accompany the picture. They didn't want anything to detract from Dolphin and, on the contrary, everything compliments her form perfectly. Sublime.

25) Bat Lash #2
January, 1969 -- Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy is back once again, this time with perhaps his greatest creation, the pseudo-pacifist, ladies-man gunslinger Bat Lash. Each of his Bat Lash covers is worth tracking down, but of them, this is undoubtedly his masterpiece, with the white frame perfectly blending in with the white of the snow; the sharp logo; the frame again helping emphasize the native American by allowing his head to break up through it into the logo space; and most of all, the crouching figure of Lash cradling the little girl as they crouch. The tension of the figures is only matched by the snowy beauty of the scene they are stuck in. And again, another great example of a cover telling a whole story in one image.

24) Green Lantern #49
February, 1994 -- Darryl Banks and Romeo Tanghal

One of the most memorable covers of the decade, even if you aren't a fan of the story. And despite the fact that the events of this issue have since been overturned, the image still packs a visceral whallop. I mean, Hall Jordan just looks legitimately deranged on this cover, and the way he holds of the trophies from his slain brethren is disturbing at best. A cover to stack up against anything the Joker has to offer.

23) House of Secrets #92
July, 1971 -- Berni Wrightson

This wonderfully rendered Wrightson cover is notable for a few reasons. Firstly, just on an artistic level, the composition is interesting, as we get a large, central image of the girl at the mirror, with the monster relatively small in the back of the scene. It's a bit unusual, but strangely effective. Of course, this is also the first appearance of Swamp Thing, which has given this cover added significance over the years. And then there's the story behind the story, which is that the girl in this famous image was one Louise Jones. At the time, she was the wife of painter Jeff Jones (who is about to reappear on the list in just two spots); Wrightson, to hear him tell the story, had a crush on her despite her marriage to his friend, hence his decision to draw her on this cover. of course, this didn't work out well in the end for either Jeff Jones or Berni Wrightson, because Louise ended up later becoming married to third comic book artist -- Walt Simonson. Yep, that's good ol' Weezy Simonson herself on the cover. And that... is the rest of the story.

22) Detective Comics #69
November, 1942 -- Jerry Robinson

Arguably the iconic image of the Golden Age Joker, this great cover from Robinson doesn't really need a lot said about it. Like most of the others on this list, it's black; and like many Joker covers, he's more symbolic than literal. As an aside, this genie-in-a-bottle design is very suggestive of a number of Spectre covers during Jim Aparo's acclaimed revival in Adventure Comics during the 1970's. It's no surprise other artists were inspired by this cover -- it's just damn cool.

21) Wonder Woman #199
April, 1972 -- Jeff Jones

And we're back with the second of the gothic horror themed bondage covers Jeff Jones painted for Wonder Woman. Or should I say the first, as this one appeared before the cover we spotlighted earlier on the list. I'm not sure whether or not I like the choice of background colors, but the image of that hooded executioner looming over Diana's chained figure is chilling and compelling. And, as I've said before, this is my favorite Wonder Woman logo during my favorite design era, so those are bonus points as well (though again, it's maybe just a slight bit crowded up there). As for the artist, we've already hard about some of his private life in our story about entry 24 on the list; the rest of the rest of the story is that he has since had a sex change operation and is now a woman. You hear that, Frank Miller? You're next, buddy!

Tomorrow: The top 20! Be there!

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #40-31

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.

Here we go.

40) Green Lantern / Green Arrow #86
September, 1971 -- Neal Adams

Over the last couple of days we've discussed some of the more effective word and thought balloons on covers; this cover, like those, probably has one of the most famous lines of dialogue on a cover ever in green Arrow's shocked "My ward is a Junkie!" This cover as a whole is still one of the most shocking covers in mainstream comics and, as usual, it was expertly drawn by Neal Adams.

39) Blackhawk #259
June, 1983 -- Howard Chaykin

Okay, it's all been building to this: and by all, I mean to two previous black and yellow war covers. First we looked at a cover that showed lighting inside a plane, where the yellow and black was used to provide dramatic lighting to a person. Then we looked at a cover that showed a low angle, looking up at some planes passing overheaed. Now we have the culmination. It's obvious here that Chaykin was very familiar with the classic covers from his predecessors and he puts it all together, from the angle to the people, with every bit of extraneous coloring removed so that this is reduced to its most elemental form. I also quite like the unusual decision to make the logo transparent. A personal favorite.

38) Detective Comics #31
September, 1939 -- Bob Kane

One of the all-time classic covers from the Golden Age, this cover, which was the third Batman cover, went a long way towards defining the mood of the whole series. It's justly famous but I had quite a hard time figuring out where to rank this because part of the reason it is so iconic is that it was homaged -- and the homage is perhaps better known and better done than the original. So some of the glory for this cover is reflected glory. Which cover, therefore, gets the credit? Both were great so they both got high rankings, but in this case, despite the added historical significance of this early cover, I decided to give the higher spot to the homage. Not sure that was the right call, but there it is.

37) Teen Titans #14
April, 1968 -- Nick Cardy

This cover is pretty much perfect in every respect. I love the angle, I love the shadows casting Robin's face into despair, I love the effect used to create the ghostly look to the other Titans, I love the lettering and I love the black border. This is basically a perfect cover and more proof, as we needed more at this point, that Nick Cardy is a wildly underappreciated comic book genius. The only real question for me was whether or not this cover should have been even higher. What do you think?

36) Batman #251
September, 1973 -- Neal Adams

Another day, another great Joker cover. Unlike the others, though, this one doesn't have a black background, but it does have a symbolically gigantic Joker striding like a behemoth through Gotham with Batman tied to an oversized playing card. The cover that really re-established Joker as a major villain for a new generation.

35) Wonder Woman #25
December, 2008 -- Aaron Lopresti

One of the very few covers from the last decade to make the list, this pick is a partially a personal choice. But this image has also been quickly embraced by much of the Wonder Woman community as well for the same reasons that I think it is one of the best depictions of Wonder Woman ever. The Rockwell-esque spirit of this cover, with the little girls emulating Wonder Woman, cuts right to the heart of the character and why Wonder Woman is an icon to millions in a way that is almost totally unconnected to her actual comic books. Making her into a poster (and I appreciate the logo and issue number being part of the cover as well) just helps emphasize her status as an icon to girls and women around the world in a very literal way. I may be wrong, but I think this is a cover that will have long term staying power for Wonder Woman enthusiasts.

34) Green Lantern #1
Fall, 1941 -- Howard Purcell

This lands in the top 40 for a few reasons, most of which have to do with how little this cover looks like anything else from its time period. It has a sharp black background and, of course, the excellent classic Green Lantern logo. And the big green power battery forms a nice backdrop for the unusually fluid action scene of Green Lantern fighting a guy with a scimitar. Indeed, this looks so little like the other books DC was putting out at the time I'm inclined to think some tomfoolery was at work in its design. But however this came about, it's a striking and bold cover to launch Green Lantern. And, as a bonus, it's also one of the few golden age Green Lantern covers not ruined by the presence of Doiby Dickles.

33) The Question #1
February, 1987 -- Bill Sienkiewicz

This ultra-modern cover from Sienkiewicz is a model of design. It's got a great logo and a great series of frames and mini-frames formed by the white lines. The topper for me, of course is the big smoke ? in the middle of the cover, forming a frame-within-a-frame for the Question's noggin. Some of the fashion on display may be a little outdated now, but the rest of this piece is timeless.

32) G. I. Combat #87
May, 1961 -- Russ Heath and Jack Adler

This was another tricky cover for me to slot correctly. As has been pointed out, war comics haven't really been popular since, well, before the Vietnam War, really. Correspondingly, I did drop most of the war covers back to the bottom half of the list. But once upon a time, back when war covers were popular, this was considered one of the best war covers ever and was singled out in fan voting at the time as being their favorite of the bunch. Because of this, it still has a high profile among fans of war comics but, due to the genre's unpopularity now, not much beyond that. Regardless, it's still a strong image whether you're into war comics or not and so deserves a decent ranking, but I moved this up and down the list several times before finally settling here. I'm still not sure this is quite the right spot, but what are you going to do, right?

31) Detective Comics #38
April, 1940 - Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson

No explanation is probably necessary for this choice, but for those who maybe aren't familiar with it, I'll point out the obvious and the not so obvious: this cover, which marks the first appearance of Robin, was so popular that it became a tradition at DC for many many years to debut big new characters by having them jump through paper hoops.

Tomorrow: #30-21 brings you everything you could ever have imagined in comics... and so much more.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Top 150 DC Covers of All Time: #50-41

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.

And now, the top 50!

50) Doom Patrol #121
October, 1968 -- Joe Orlando

One of the most shocking issues of the Silver Age came packaged with one of its sharpest covers, as the ghostly figures of the Doom Patrol rising from their own graves is appropriately creepy. It's also set off by the presence of the blindingly yellow masthead, which bleeds in a lightning bolt down to the surprising "You Decide!" blurb. The only nit-pick I have with the cover really is that the masthead seems just slightly empty -- not that I want it cluttered like some of the other DC covers we've seen, but maybe they could have filled a little bit of that empty space with a bigger logo. But overall, a great cover.

49) Showcase #57
August, 1965 -- Joe Kubert

Enemy Ace was one of the more unique concepts in War comics and Kubert arguably turned in his best artwork on the title, which, considering Kubert, is really saying something. This cover, for the character's first solo appearance, is excellent but it's also a prototype of sorts; the concept of the sketch of Enemy Ace on a black background with the dogfight in the foreground would prove to be so successful here that Kubert would return to it again once Enemy Ace had his own series, and to even better results.

48) Kamandi #1
November, 1972 -- Jack Kirby and Mike Royer

Yes, this series is obviously a Planet of the Apes ripoff, but it's also done by Jack Kirby, so one thing is certain: the covers are going to be big, bold and usually interesting. This is one of the best he turned out during his years at DC -- one look at it and you get the whole concept whether you've seen Apes or not. And, I might add, the composition is excellent.

47) Flash #174
November, 1967 -- Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

I always love it when the design people play around with the logo and this is one of the greatest examples ever. The Rogues Gallery looking down on the conquered Flash is cool, but it's obviously the amazingly gigantic logo for the issue that really sets this cover apart. Infantino and friends were really ahead of the curve with some of their innovations on Flash.

46) Adventure Comics #73
April, 1942 -- Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

And here's some Golden Age Kirby to go with his Bronze Age work. The symbolic giant has been a staple of comics imagery right from the start, but rarely has it been done as impressively as here; there's something almost 3-D about the way Kirby has Manhunter (in his first appearance) striding into the city. Plus, I love the guy at the bottom running so hard he's completely left his feet in a complete panic. How could you not buy this comic if you saw it on the stands?

45) The Killing Joke
1988 -- Brian Bolland

We've had some discussions over the course of the countdown about the effectiveness of word and thought balloons on covers. Enter exhibit A in the defense of word balloons. Not only is the one word "Smile" probably the most famous word balloon in the history of comics, for me it really makes the entire cover. yes, it's a cool image of Joker and the significance of him with the camera makes more sense once you've read the story, but that one word gives the cover all of its considerable impact. As a side note, I might add that this is yet another black Joker cover, and not the last by half. Some things were just meant to be.

44) Suicide Squad #1
May, 1987 -- Howard Chaykin

And right up next is another example of the impact good text can have on the cover. I love the layout here, but again, it's really the text -- which the cover is designed around -- that makes this cover. I do with that final exclamation point had been a simple period instead, but otherwise, this is a perfectly executed cover worthy of the best Hollywood advertising.

43) Superman #1
Summer, 1939 -- Joe Shuster

Simple, elegant and classic. I like the pose and the frame and, of course, the yellow background, not to mention that this is the first appearance of the famous Superman logo, which Shuster hand-drew on each cover for several issues before someone told him just to make a template. Note there's no issue number; I guess they didn't need one yet.

42) Young Romance #150
November, 1967 -- Jay Scott Pike

There have been dozens of great "reflections in glasses" type covers over the history of comics, but few have them have been as perfectly effective as this effort from Jay Scott Pike. The whole story is here, from the tears to the hand raised to the lips to the couple kissing in the reflection. Just perfect.

41) New Teen Titans #13
November, 1981 -- George Perez

We started the day with the Doom Patrol's death and we're going to end it there as well. I invite you to blow this one up to really see the detail work that Perez, as always, has put into this darkly evocative cover. The flashlight and the overgrown jungle really give this a creepy, mysterious air that is topped off by the chilling image of Robotman's body left hanging as a warning. Due to Perez's detailed style, it doesn't really shrink down well, so it loses a bit at this size, but at full size, it's a masterpiece.

Tomorrow: #40-31 brings you some true classics courtesy of... Bill Sienkiewicz! Bob Kane! Howard Chaykin! And more!

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