Sep 23, 2013

Back Issue Ben: Top 10 Covers

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

The Ten Best Comic Book Covers of All Time
as Determined by Back Issue Ben, the Ultimate Authority on Such Matters

I’m a sucker for covers. An appealing cover can get me to buy a comic I wouldn’t normally be interested in, only to later be disappointed that I just forced myself to read the most recent issue of Thunderbolts. Such is the power of a well-designed cover image. (Incidentally, I have the same weakness when it comes to magazines also. No, not Playboy!)

Whether it be the old school type of cover, with an image that represents the contents of the book, or the more modern pin-up style cover, it doesn’t matter (as long as there are boobs).

This week, I’m going to run down my top ten favorite comic book covers of all time, in no particular order, as near as I can remember it. Feel free to disagree, just know that you will be wrong.

Web of Spider-Man #32
Pencils: Mike Zeck; Inks: Bob McLeod; Colors: Janet Jackson

I’ve recently arrived at the realization that I was a bit morbid as a kid. If the image of Spider-Man dressed in black, crawling free from his own shallow grave counts as morbid, then I guess I was morbid! Who are you to judge 10-year-old me?! I was never creepy about it. Anyway, this has long been my favorite comic book cover ever, and Mike Zeck has me as a loyal servant for as long as we both shall live. (As long as it’s nothing sexual. If it is, then…we’ll just have to see where it goes, I can’t make any promises.)

Boob count: 0 (surprisingly)

Gen 13 #12
Pencils: J Scott Campbell; Inks: Alex Garner; Colors: Wildstorm FX

Probably the first J Scott Campbell cover I ever noticed, before I knew who that was. My love of cheesecake is no secret, and is on full display when it comes to this image. The best sign, to me, of a great cover, is if I want to attempt to draw it myself, and this is no exception, as I have tried and tried to replicate this image using my own feeble skills. Always wearing pants at the time, in case you want to be accusatory! Also, there’s no way I’ll ever actually read this comic, I just like the cover.

Boob count: 2, and they’re spectacular

X-Force (Volume 3) #9
Pencils: Mike Choi; Colors: Sonia Oback

I love Domino and her whole design (despite the dog-spot on her eye), and she just looks awesome on this cover. Not even the presence of Wolverine can drag this cover down. (This cover making this list is in no way influenced by my owning the original art for it.) I’d have to imagine, in the Marvel universe, seeking a mate with your normal real world skin color would be a bit boring. If I was a fictional character (and I’m pretty sure that I am) I’d be going after blue women, bone-white women, red women, and the ever reliable green. Basically, I’d be after Gamora, U Go Girl, and Domino, in that order.

And that my friends, is how you cross into creepy territory. Like a bespectacled Army scout trudging through the underbrush.

Boob count: 4

Amazing Spider-Man #121
Pencils: John Romita Sr; Inks: John Costanza; Colors: Dave Hunt

I can’t imagine seeing this cover on the racks as a kid and not wanting to pick it up. I wish I could have been old enough to get it brand new on the day of release (not really, because then I’d be older than I am right now, and had to live longer in the prehistoric ages before technology, and those days most definitely sucked). Would I have believed the promise of the cover blurbs, or simply thought they were bluffing yet again? Who’s to know, I wasn’t very smart as a kid. I like the yellow background too. It really pops right out at your face, like some kind of mustard-comprised phantom of doom.

Boob count: still at 4

Uncanny X-Men #138

Pencils: John Byrne; Inks: Terry Austin; Colors: Glynis Wein

I love it when they use grids of old covers as the background of new covers. It just works for me, because I’m nostalgic like that. Plus, the background is pink, which tends to stand out a little. John Byrne in his prime doesn’t hurt either. And its Cyclops being a total tool and quitting, which never gets old. Seriously, look me in the eyes. It never gets old.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I just really wanted that Toys R Us shopping spree.

Boob count: I can’t really get a good look at Storm here, so still at 4

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
Art: Kevin Eastman

The iconic image of the four turtles, huddled together on the rooftops, crouched in combat stances, prepared to strike. The amateurish quality of the inking only adds to the atmosphere of the image, making it seem all the more dark and moody. I like my turtles silly and fun like from the cartoons, but still jumping from roof to roof through the dark of the night, kicking ass and fighting the Shredder (which is why you all should watch the new cartoon on Nickelodeon!).

Boob count: 4

Crisis on Infinite Earths #8
Pencils: George Perez; Inks: Jerry Ordway; Colors: Anthony Tollin

The Flash, muscles tensed, ready to strike, making his last stand. The ultimate heroic death depicted in one iconic image. What’s not to love? I know most people prefer #7, but I much prefer Flash gritting his teeth and prepared to fight, over Superman bawling like a newborn baby. I used to pretend I was Flash in the bathtub. What that entails, I’ll leave up to your imagination.

Boob count: shockingly 4

The Transformers #5

Art: Mark Bright; Colors: Nel Yomtov
Look, just because I might have had a slight fascination with fictional deaths, doesn’t mean I was some emo kid. I never liked the Cure all that much, and I didn’t dress up like Edward Scissorhands and say “whatever” a lot. I just happened to enjoy seeing my favorite characters decapitated and mangled. This was a great moody cover though, Shockwave was badass in the comics.

Boob count: I’m not counting robot super one-boob

New Avengers (Volume 2) #15
Art: Mike Deodato; Colors: Rain Beredo

Squirrel Girl! That’s all that need be said.

Boob count: 6!

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #10

Pencils: Mike Zeck; Inks: Terry Austin; Colors: Christie Scheele

Tough pick for the final spot, but I have to go with this epic shot of Dr Doom, battered and ruined, as he faces the Beyonder “To the Death!” I was tempted to go with #1, with all the heroes barreling out towards the reader, but I always loved the detail involved in this image. And, once again, I was obsessed with fictional deaths as a kid, so Doom on his last legs was instantly appealing to my warped little mind. It’s really quite amazing that I ended up being a, at the very least, non-disruptive member of everyday society. I think I should be applauded for that.

Final boob count tally: 6 (All of this was just to highlight that I’m not as boob-obsessed as even I predicted I’d be. Most of these choices were pretty close to outright lies though. Next time I’ll just do my top ten J Scott Campbell covers, since those are the ones I really favor, I just didn’t want to admit it publicly and be branded some kind of anti-realistic- anatomy perv. At least not again. That was a bad summer.)

Final Brain Thoughts: That does it for what was no doubt a stirring and informative look at a list of comic book covers. A subject that I don’t think I can stress enough the importance of. My extensive lack of training in art criticism and genuine inability to appreciate normal things should in no way reflect upon the above covers in any negative way. In fact, feel free to print this out and carry it around in your pocket, so that you can whip it out at random passers-by. At minimum, it will be better than what most of you usually whip out at pedestrians.

This list could probably very easily change tomorrow (or just have easily been filled with ten different Spider-Man covers), but at this moment in time, here it stands, a monument to all that is excellent in comic book cover imagery.

If you’re feeling really froggy, feel free to comment with a list of your ten favorite covers, so that maybe we can get the seriousness that is comic book cover awareness out there. Only with your help can we tackle this serious problem.

Keep hope alive!

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