12 Great American Comic Book Covers

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WATCHMEN #1 (1986)
 DAVE GIBBONS

This cover stands out as an early example of how the the look and marketing of comics began to change in the 80’s. The cover is simple and effective It gives you just enough to whet your curiosity. But what makes it so great when the reader realizes that the cover is actually the first panel of what would be come known as one of the greatest stories in graphic novels. Few covers in comics history have been as well-integrated into the story, or as thematically rewarding as Watchmen #1

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS #1 (1986) Frank Miller

This cover along with Watchmen #1 seemed to denote a sea change in how comics were marketed and sold to the public, and indicated a greater reliance on an older and more sophisticated audience. Now over 15 years old, this cover has been imitated more times than any other image in comics. Miller chooses a simple look relying on the iconic silhouette of Batman to carry the narrative weight of the cover. This cover marks for the beginning of things and a better future for The Dark Knight.

WEIRD TALES OF THE FUTURE #3 (1952)
BASIL WOLVERTON

A mix of humor and horror. which features the beautiful, grieving woman bringing roses to the grave of a dearly departed. Then all hell breaks loose, with a Zombie smashing through the ground, toppling tombstones and cracking open caskets for all to see. It’s also the best image from a series that features six all-time classic covers in a mere eight-issue run

FOXHOLE #1 (1954)
JACK KIRBY

The composition is masterful: central image at page right so that we can absorb the letter home and the background action before his expression registers, and again the whole scene is silhouetted by a simple, flat background of red sky and billowing smoke. The story is heartbreaking and poignant, evocative and intriguing–enough to entreat almost anyone to take a look behind this incredible picture

TRUE CRIME COMICS #3 (1947)
 JACK COLE

A great cover by Jack Cole get away with such a bravura display of showmanship and excess in a tableau like this!? WHO? wouldn’t want to read the “true” story of Benny Dickson, the killer whose body was tattooed by bullets to read: RAT! WHO? wrote the equally lurid and bizarre copy to this granddaddy of all Crime Comic covers? Who CARES? This is, simply put, one of the toughest, most ferocious pictures ever put on the cover of any comic book, bar none. The police are apparently shooting Dickson in the back (he is not carrying a weapon) no less than 44 times, while his moll returns fire in a bizarre sexual role-reversal. She is appropriately clad in red (mirroring the color of the logo) while the snarling action is framed in front of a eye-popping yellow background. Emblematic of the change in attitude toward crime in the 40’s, the goodwill which famous outlaws like Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde enjoyed during the 20’s and early 30’s had long since been used up; and while thepublishers titillated readers with Crime  eries like this, they still adhered to the FBI motto: crime does not pay, and RATS will get it in the end.


ACTION COMICS #1 (1938)
 JOE SHUSTER

This cover stands out as an early example of how the the look and marketing of comics began to change in the 80’s. The cover is simple and effective It gives you just enough to whet your curiosity. But what makes it so great when the reader realizes that the cover is actually the first panel of what would be come known as one of the greatest stories in graphic novels. Few covers in comics history have been as well-integrated into the story, or as thematically rewarding as Watchmen #1 What more can be said about the most copied, parodied and reproduced comic book cover of all time? The direct impact of the tableau and its historic importance make this an essential iconic image of not just comic books, but Americana. It is quite simply the most famous comic book cover of all time.

MASTER COMICS #32 (1942)
MAC RABOY

A perfectly drawn and lit figure of Captain Marvel Jr. streaking alongside an unforgettable depiction of our national symbol, the American Eagle. Released smack-dab in the midst of World War II (November, 1942), it was a powerful iconic message.

NATIONAL COMICS #26 (1942)
REED CRANDALL

Some people consider this the greatest cover of all time. The iconography is direct and obvious: Uncle Sam–rolls up his sleeves to get down to the business of taking care of the Axis.

BATMAN – THE KILLING JOKE (1988)

BRIAN BOLLAND

Perhaps the greatest villain in the D.C. universe. The Joker proves he can star in his own  series if need be. Who needs Batman when you got a character like this? Perhaps one of the most talked about comics of its decade. The comics cover is so powerful it in ways explains why the film The Dark Knight could be such a success. He’s the clown prince and the spotlights always on him.

CRISIS ON INFINATE EARTHS #8 (1985)

GEORGE PEREZ

The most important cross over / story line in the D.C. universe which since has changed  everything for every character. And how great is this cover. If having The Flash standing in front of a completely destroyed post apocalyptic like city wasn’t enough; he throws in a dying Captain Marvel in Barry Allen’s Hands. Standing in front of them is the figure of an unknown villain adding to the mystery. However what makes this truly a remarkable and unforgettable cover is the headline which informs us of another death in those same pages. That of the Scarlet Speedster. How often does one book take away a legendary hero much less two?

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