We tend to read a lot of comics around here. A LOT. We all have our favorite fictional characters that live in the panels of the pages of the series that we read that start a fire in us–that they are some comics that hold more weight than others. There’s certain comics whose covers have the power to make a statement. They have the power to make us feel some kinda way. They hold true to be the first visual representation of what lies within: what type of heroes we strive to be, what type of struggle they face that we relate to. The covers to our favorite comics are a pretty big deal and on that note here’s a few of our favorite comic book covers that have stayed with us since we first picked them up.
Title: Luke Cage: Noir #3 (2009) Cover Artist: Tim Bradstreet
First off, it was a tough choice between this one and the FAR more popular Noir #1. You know? The one with the bullets tearing his suit to shreds and the Apollo marquis in the background. But this one has the Caporal chicken spot in the back! I grew up eating at that place late nights after performing near Bowery (where there was no food). The spot was there on 157th and Broadway for 43 years before closing in 2011. Seeing that chicken spot made the cover NYC authentic. Deadass B. There was an aspect of the Netflix Luke Cage that definitely channeled this vibe (and arc).
Title: Elektra: Assassin #1-8 (1986-1987)
Cover Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
For this one I get to pop the red pill and break the system. One of my favorite characters is Elektra. She rarely gets the writer/artist combo she deserves, but Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz went to work. This was the first book where I was able to identify with a character’s dark side. There was nothing gender conforming about this Elektra, and it showed in the big ass gun and sai she wielded on the cover. The only way it could be one-upped was to be done again. Enter: Hit Girl #5
Title: Hit Girl #5 (2013) (Variant Cover)
Cover Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
There was always something cool about Hit-Girl, definitely the absurd and dark juxtaposition of how unassumingly lethal she was drawn. It had never been more apparent for me as when Bill Sienkiewicz put a big ass gun (and a bloody katana for good measure) in her tiny hands. –Frantz
I got this issue when I first started collecting comic books on my own in college. At the time, all I really knew about the Black Panther was what I’d seen in that short-lived motion comic series during a night of insomnia. But seeing this large, domineering figure walking through the tall grasses of Africa covered in black from head-to-toe spoke to me. I had no idea that I was in store for the definitive text on T’Challa and Wakanda. If I were to recommend any specific comic book to anyone to introduce them to either, this would be it. From cover to cover you get a perfectly condensed history lesson on the most advanced country in the Marvel Universe and the person who rules it all –Keith
Captain America: Sam Wilson #10 (2015) Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
Steve Rogers isn’t my Captain America. My Captain America can fly.
I’ve been a fan of Sam Wilson as Captain America for the entirety of Nick Spencer’s run with the character. While my initial choice for this spot was All-New Captain America #1, which shows Sam standing on top of a cliff in all of his Captain America glory, I remembered that Captain America: Sam Wilson #10 may be in my personal Top 5. But this list isn’t about what happened inside of the issue – which is all certified dopeness – but the cover. And watching Sam Wilson stand over the casket of James Rhodes who was an unfortunate – and unnecessary… – casualty in the recent Civil War II event. I always wondered how close black superheroes were, even if we didn’t see all of their interactions on the pages we read. This cover hinted at a deeper connection between Rhodey and Sam that wasn’t really on the forefront of any current plot lines. –Keith
X-Men Classic #74 (1991) (Reprint of Uncanny X-Men #170- 1983) Cover Artist(s): Adam Hughes
I’m a big Storm fan. Like diehard. Like I collected all her mini-series and have a special collection of variants of just her. She’s my favorite super-hero as I’ve noted before. This particular cover is actually my all-time favorite comic book cover of all time. ALL TIME. Over the years I’ve been making sure I pay close attention to how women are posed and placed on comic book covers: turns out I’ve been giving it more than earlier on then I thought. This particular comic was in my first comic book collection and I could recall exactly why I loved it so much: Storm is drawn in a striking, unforgettable way. She stands one hand grasping a dagger up in the air and the other near her hip. Clad in what’s left of her bikini-like costume she stands tall and unopposed: she is beautiful, deadly to be admired and feared. Pitor and Kurt stand in the background while she takes up space unapologetically.
She is the central figure. She is the most important. It’s all about her! As she asserts her dominance as disembodied raised fists join her to rally her on as their leader. In this particular comic, Storm fights Callisto, leader of the Morlocks the renegade band of misfits mutants who make their way of life underground in order to save her fellow X-Men comrades who came to the rescue of one of their own, Warren aka Angel. She challenges Callisto as leader of the X-Men even while not being 100 percent as she is afflicted by the fever and sickness brought on by Plague, a mutant under Callisto’s rule. Ororo succeeds in defeating the Morlocks’ leader and by their rules she stands as their new leader. I had already wanted to be like Storm as a child but this surely was one of the defining moments that solidified that desire. On the cover she is victorious. Gorgeous. And Fearless in this moment. And she is certainly NOT the one (to fuck with, mind you). “REIGN STORM” in unique font can be found on the lower half of the cover: which sums all of this up this: This is Ororo Munroe’s party. We’re just here to watch her shine.
Not too long ago I was telling some friends of mine of an incident that happened to me while I was at a bank waiting for an ATM: this stranger, a man complimented me and told me I was beautiful. In the next breath, he asked if I was mixed. As in mixed race, as in biracial or multi-racial. I deal with street harassment quite often so I was on guard with this soft-spoken man even before he gifted me this “compliment”. (Word to the wise: DON’T DO THIS. IT’S NOT A COMPLIMENT.) After I thanked him he blind-sided me with the question about being mixed. I am not ignorant to the fact that Black people are everywhere in the world. I’m also not ignorant that America has a population that is rapidly moving towards more interracial marriages and unions. Lastly, I’m not ignorant to the Afro-Latinx folks who live throughout Cali, especially Southern California where I make my home.
I was just emotionally exhausted when he replied to my bewildered expression that ”You just don’t look Black. Your features don’t look Black.” Beyond the “Why can’t Black Women just be beautiful, desired, sought after-and just be Black-without folks assuming we have to be mixed to validate those qualities” question which ultimately leads to the “Why can’t Black Women just BE?” I thought about what images in the media and what types of Black Women this man was used to seeing and interacting with (must be mad limited). I thought about even now, but especially how as a child I craved to find images of Black women real and fictional, looking like they could take on the world and win.
I suppose that’s why this comic book cover resonates with me so much even years later. Storm is, for the most part in my opinion all of the above and more. She’s serving us sexiness, power, attitude and the ability to get shit done. She’s worthy of all the praise, has a seat at the table and surely ain’t here for your mind games. She’s a leader and she’s a friend. Teacher. Lover. Royalty. And Everything in between. Even in a world that hates her (as a mutant, as woman, as a person who is Black and has heritage belonging to the African Diaspora) she won’t be easily defeated. I wanted to be like her and I KNEW she was Black as a child. There was NO question. She was a Black Woman and I wanted to be like her and still do. That’s what this comic book cover means to me. –Carrie
Civil War II # 0 (2016) (Variant Cover) Cover Artist(s): Phil Noto
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that 1.) I read all of Civil War II and 2.) I enjoyed it as a whole cause and lastly, 3.) I appreciated how Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers was written cause WOW, if there’s a physical complaints/suggestions box for Marvel—I’m going to stuff that box silly with paper. This cover right here easily slides into the top three favorite comic books covers this year alone based off the significance of what’s happening, our EIC Will dropped some words about this particular cover earlier this year as well. Our dearly beloved cinnamon roll and hero in her own right, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel stands ripping a photo of her mentor and idol, Carol Danvers.
The action of the ripping of the poster, the deliberate stare towards the viewer is all an act of defiance and I’m so here for it. On the surface we can simply acknowledge that it is of a youth turning away from her mentor, the way of things, the status quo. Under the surface though? It’s not lost on me that Kamala is a first generation Pakistani-American, a Muslim, a young woman and a child of immigrants, hell even a Millennial: such factors that make her a target in the world she lives in, fights injustice in and strives to be heroic in. She’s also a target in the world we live in, most immediately the country that we live in.
I think back to Ms. Marvel #8 when Carol assigns Kamala to a new task: utilizing Ulysses’ predicting ability to stop crime before it happens in her city (and ultimately arrest and imprison would be criminals). When Kamala questions Carol on the grounds that it makes her feel uneasy because it sounds a lot of profiling, I had to double a double take because that was exactly what I was thinking. Later Tyesha, Kamala’s new sister-in-law recalls the place she grew up, her old neighborhood: where she wonders about the futures of what could have been for boys on the corners scooped up by law enforcement. What their lives could have unfolded to without the tell-tale attitude that their skin color and environment made them no-good or more likely to be criminals. You know, racial profiling? By this point in the timeline, our hero is way less confident that’s she doing the right thing and very soon, sees firsthand how her actions affect others, especially those close to her.
I think of how universally loved Kamala is: she is a hero for the people. While comic book readers of all ages, ethnicity, races, genders and walks of life adore her she is especially a flaghead hero for women, POC and several marginalized groups under the sun, representation-wise. New Blood. That’s what Kamala is. A Newer hero in the Marvel lineup. A new person to add to the “Supes & Capes” brigade. But for me this cover begets the question: when the last time I felt betrayed by someone I loved or idolized or thought of as the mentor? When the last time I learned that an institution wouldn’t protect me or folks who look like me or placed profit and/or other gains above us? When was the last time it was revealed to me that the people who are in charge are tittering on the fence on subjects regarding people’s lives and basic living conditions? For me, to answer the questions for myself: all too soon and all this year. More so in the later months of the year.
Comic books are political. Get over it. I am Kamala here, ready to stand up and shake up what I’ve always known, what I thought would always protect me, to not cling to who I now know who really is not for me. Did you wake up one day to find that the world isn’t what you thought it was? That the hate of and overall lack of decency and compassion for people who are different hard to find nowadays? That those with twisted morales that preach division amongst us are closer than you think? That certain ideologies that are threatening to people everywhere are being normalized everywhere? Are you, too, Kamala now as you gaze at this cover? My last question is, if you are, just what are you going to do now? –Carrie
New X-Men Vol.2 #43 (2007) Cover Artist: Skottie Young
Now, if we talking comic covers then I gotta go back and flex on the squad from yesteryear with the X-Men. New Mutants vol.2 was my favorite X-Men/ Teen team title and a great introduction to the next generation of mutants. They were all bright and cherry and shit but they X-Men and that shit don’t last long at all, fast forward to when the title relaunched as New X-Me. Yeah, Look at that cover man. Ain’t Shit fucking funny now huh? That’s a squad that’s done seen some shit. You can almost hear Mobb Deep’s Quiet storm playing in the background as you stare at that excellence. The kids aren’t all right at all people.
This issue was back when mutants lost their powers and only 198 mutants remained, their school was attacked by anti-mutant terrorists, a bus full of their friends blew up right in front of their eyes, Anole got outed by Rockslide as gay Prodigy (my man in the right corner) now depowered and died on trip to limbo (he was healed by his man’s Josh instantly) got a shocker of Surge breaking up with him (by kissing Hellion purposely in front of him) trying to push him away from the school for his own protection, which leaads to my fucking favorite moment, the Stepford Cuckoos taking off the mental blocks from Prodigy’s mind that allowed him to retain the knowledge, experience, and learned skills OF EVERYONE HE CAME INTO CONTACT WITH up until being depowered, making him the smartest and technically most dangerous person in the entire school. You best believe that Prodigy is seriously still an underrated character in the X-Men universe.
Yoh! this was peak X-Men shit right here man the whole squad was going through it but still out here eaten young. Yaw! Look how gritty Skottie Young was getting with the dreary and the teen angst. Yaw! Look at that diversity up in piece too. My girl Dust rocking the fuck outta her Burqa, Surge flexing on’em in the lead!. Yaw. When the last time you seen X-Men blessed up like this? The Enforcer Double A Arn Anderson once said, “Adversity introduces a man [woman] to himself [herself].” To be an X-Man is to continuously suffer through adversity and you can see the each member of the squad rocking all they been through like a jesus piece on this cover –Omar
Sam Wilson Captain America #1 Variant (2015) Cover Artist: Mahmud Asrar
I don’t evne need to go into detail on the shit talking for this one. First things, first we gotta acknowledge that Marvel came out with these hip-hop variants for their comics making it a hot line but for years prior Long Boxes on 22’s had already made it a hot song. That being said, I can’t deny how hard this image is. Ya mans and dem Sam Wilson AKA Falcon Hand Rub done had the mantle and the shield of Captain America bestowed upon him and mofos didn’t know how to act. Literally, there was public outcry in the Marvel Universe and even in the real world Fox News was getting at Sam Wilson. You know you made it when the real world is hating on your glow up. There wasn’t a better representation for the whole “Not My Captain America” outcry then this variant right here. Isn’t that how it always is tho?
Black person / Person of color gets something the’ve earned, that they’re due, or that they won that involves a change to the status quo or to the distribution fo power and folks salty. Folk wanna put all the salt (which is seasoning for some) in their food cause they heard it a good cure for butt hurt. That’s why this cover resonadted with me so. Sam Wilson draped in the American flag amidst all that hate, all that “we don’t want you here”, all that “Why don’t you go back to where you came from”, and all that “mutha fuckas never loved us” If that picture ain’t that Black experience in America my dude. Trying to find some sort of comfort in an environment that doesn’t want to see you win while at the same time trying to make a space for you and yours to win. – Omar