Tuesday, December 09, 2003

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Best superhero cover of the past decade? Nah. Methinks ADD lets his desire to stir up the drink lead him to slosh it out of the glass and onto the bar.

But, I do like this cover very much. It's a clever rendition of the classic X-Men, before Claremont and dozens of anonymous hacks had their way with the Merry Mutants. Its chief appeal, to me, lies in its novelty and subtlety, plus it gives me a nice little nostalgia rush, as someone whose first X-Men comic was #9. From 1964. The JSA drawing he mentions is a very nice one as well, with his understated and somewhat pug-ugly versions of the Golden Agers successfully evoking memories of the less, shall we say, accomplished or facile art style of that bygone age. I really like his Spectre, by the way. Does he look pissed off or what? I'm reminded of a Paul Grist X-Men illo that I saw in an issue of Comic Book Artist a while back, or the funny Dean Haspiel Captain Marvel story that appeared in Bizarro Comics, which ended in Cap buying the whole JLA and JSA ice cream.

Of course, how much you agree with ADD's bold statement will depend on what you think the function of a superhero comic cover should be. Seth's illustration is understated, muted. It's a nice drawing. Kinda fun to look at. And true, it has enough curiosity value that it might attract one or two readers who ordinarily wouldn't touch a Seth comic book. Plus, you can't underestimate the collector mentality- I'm sure there will be those who will buy the darn thing simply because it's an X-Men appearance!

But as the kind of comic cover that today's reader has come to expect, it fails miserably. It's not dynamic. It doesn't shout at the reader "Buy me! You won't be able to live with yourself if you don't!". It's not inspiring or heroic-seeming in itself, nor is it dark and gloomy or ironic enough to appeal to the Vertigo crowd. Its chief strength is in its novelty value, and the fact that it's a clever illustration doesn't enter into the equation. It creates the same impression as a new Fred Hembeck cover would, for example. It's tons of fun, but like the Haspiel Bizarro story, doesn't aspire to grandeur or excitement or Wagnerian stürm und drang nor does it aspire to the Perez, Adams or Kane model of a "good" comics cover.

So do I like this cover? Hell yes. It's great. But do I think it's the "best comic cover of the decade"? Nope. Sorry.

Besides, what the heck is a "Coober Skeber", anyway?