Stop! Don't pass up this thread! The Flash's life depends on it!
December 11, 2009 4:03 PM   Subscribe

The top 75 Iconic DC covers of all-time
posted by Artw (67 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love how they throw a Sandman cover into the mix, really highlights how that art style looks like nothing else. The Swamp Thing cover is beautiful too, although more connected to Golden Age style.
posted by Nelson at 4:13 PM on December 11, 2009


The top 25 iconic covers and a bunch from Green Lantern too.
posted by GuyZero at 4:13 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love how they throw a Sandman cover into the mix

I dunno, why that one? #8? I don't have them memorized but there has got to be a better/ "more iconic" Sandman cover than that one.
posted by GuyZero at 4:13 PM on December 11, 2009


I am shocked that Action Comics #1 won this.

I am, honestly, confused about how some of the goofier silver-age covers are iconic.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:14 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Though I've never really read the Flash comics great covers seems to be a tradition for it - here's some awesome Brian Bolland ones. I love this one in particular.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am, honestly, confused about how some of the goofier silver-age covers are iconic.

Because they are awesome.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


middleclasstool: "I am shocked that Action Comics #1 won this.

I am, honestly, confused about how some of the goofier silver-age covers are iconic.
"

well back in those days being turned into a tree by a glowing meteor was a real concern.
posted by boo_radley at 4:20 PM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think putting only one of the "Help, I turned into an ape" comic is an affront to all the hundreds of comics which are based on the exact same premise (half a dozen of which are Jimmy Olsen).
posted by qvantamon at 4:27 PM on December 11, 2009


I am, honestly, confused about how some of the goofier silver-age covers are iconic.

Because they are easy picks, basically. No one went broke upselling antiques.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:30 PM on December 11, 2009


Red Kryptonite's 9 Dumbest Effects on Superman

Action Comics #296 was robbed!
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on December 11, 2009


These covers are a quick textbook on why DC ruled and Marvel sucked (the only exception is that one crappy "New Gods" Kirby cover. Kirby was awful.) DC was the Apple of comics, and Marvel was the PC. DC gave us clean, functional superheros that did what they were supposed to without a lot of pointless features. When DC introduced a new app (Krypto, Robin, Red Kryptonite), it worked for years, and years. Marvel introduced garbagey superheroes with "psychological" problems and boo-hoo home lives. Marvel panels were crapped up with a lot of pointless inking, and introduced superheroes with "rage." Gee Hulk, you're angry? You're suffering? Like I really give a shit. You can beat up anybody in the world. Get over it. DC worked. Marvel had to keep relaunching their defective superheroes. In the late 1960s, they finally infected DC and brought them down. Steve Jobs, take note.
posted by Faze at 4:34 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am, honestly, confused about how some of the goofier silver-age covers are iconic.

I'VE GOT THE STRANGEST FEELING I'M BEING TURNED INTO A PUPPET
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:34 PM on December 11, 2009


I'VE GOT THE STRANGEST FEELING FAZE BETTER STOP TALKING SMACK ABOUT JACK KIRBY
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:35 PM on December 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


I'VE GOT THE STRANGEST FEELING MY CAPS Loh. Sorry about that, all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on December 11, 2009


I dunno, why that one? #8? I don't have them memorized but there has got to be a better/ "more iconic" Sandman cover than that one.

Sandman #8 The Sound of Her Wings is where the series grew the beard and stopped being just an comic about a goth with a magic bag of sand and started being something else.
posted by permafrost at 4:37 PM on December 11, 2009


DARK HORSE IS LINUX!
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I;m pretty sure that Sandman will always be a comic about a goth with a magic bag of sand.
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


He has a magic hat also. Don't forget the magic hat.
posted by permafrost at 4:42 PM on December 11, 2009


"Help, I'm in a vintage comic book cover and must narrate the entire synopsis of this issue as if it were something an actual individual would say to someone else!"
posted by qvantamon at 4:43 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think GuyZero has a point, though -- some of these covers (and I'd include Sandman #8) seem to be on this list because of the import of the issue itself, not for anything to do with the cover as a cover. Swamp Thing #21 is an even better example of this (though I'd argue that the Swamp Thing/Abby cover really is iconic).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:43 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always liked the games McKean played with Sandman covers, like the way that the cover of #1 is the background on #7.

Plus there's the cover to Orpheus, which had a glow in the dark face and writing, except due to a miscomunication no-one publicized it and a whole lot of people got totally freaked out when they left it on the floor and turned the lights off and OMG GLOWING FACE ON THE FLOOR.
posted by permafrost at 4:54 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I thought that was just me.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:56 PM on December 11, 2009


"The Flash is Dead? Ling live the Flash!" issue has stuck with me as an adult for some reason.

Oh, and more Breyfogle please.

Sandman, yes!
posted by four panels at 5:10 PM on December 11, 2009


He has a magic hat also. Don't forget the magic hat.

It was a helm. GAHD.
posted by emjaybee at 5:16 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, Helm is Rogue Troopers talking hat!
posted by Artw at 5:17 PM on December 11, 2009


FAVORITE THIS IF YOU TOO LOATHE ICONIC DC COVERS

And I mean digg reddit fark loathe. Like, real Kirby-New Gods Darkseid loathing. As in Baron Karza never wants to see you again off to the body banks loathing. Loathe.
posted by humannaire at 5:25 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


They missed The Great Darkness Saga cover with all of the Legion on their knees praying to Darkseid.

Nearly every cover of The Invisibles, though I guess Vertigo doesn't count.

And then this is my favorite cover of all time! Let's use our x-ray vision to look underneath each other's clothes! Lana will never suspect a thing!
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:26 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who is faintly amused whenever fans of the magic flying man in dayglo underwear complain about the goth with the magic bag of sand?

(Note: I am a fan of both.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:27 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


How anyone can pick just 75 is beyond me. Back to perusing my PHOTO-JOURNAL GUIDE TO COMICS in my smoking jacket whilst sipping a fine brandy.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:31 PM on December 11, 2009


I thought this was just fine. I can quibble about some of the rankings, but there is a bunch of great stuff in there.

Is the a good place to ask what comic this great image of Krypto the Superdog is from? Anyone know where I can find a good high-res scan of it?

Did I hear somebody talking shit about Jack Kirby upthread? Nah, couldn't be.
posted by marxchivist at 6:00 PM on December 11, 2009


I guess Vertigo doesn't count.

Well, there is a Preacher cover in there.

This is one of my favorite Superman covers, if only because it really makes me want to read that story.
posted by maqsarian at 6:01 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


These covers are a quick textbook on why DC ruled and Marvel sucked (the only exception is that one crappy "New Gods" Kirby cover. Kirby was awful.) DC was the Apple of comics, and Marvel was the PC. DC gave us clean, functional superheros that did what they were supposed to without a lot of pointless features. When DC introduced a new app (Krypto, Robin, Red Kryptonite), it worked for years, and years. Marvel introduced garbagey superheroes with "psychological" problems and boo-hoo home lives. Marvel panels were crapped up with a lot of pointless inking, and introduced superheroes with "rage." Gee Hulk, you're angry? You're suffering? Like I really give a shit. You can beat up anybody in the world. Get over it. DC worked. Marvel had to keep relaunching their defective superheroes. In the late 1960s, they finally infected DC and brought them down. Steve Jobs, take note.

I was thinking just the opposite, they emphasise the total irrelevance of the DC universe to reality, including the reality of the reader. Those apps you list are all hopeless, retread garbage. Superdog for fucks sake? Another pointless colour variation on kryptonite? What was ever the point of that? Even Superman was a tedious repetition of the same meme: really powerful, wins at the end, return to stable universe, no meaningful development. How many times does superman have to be tempted to kill someone only to not do so in order to avoid betraying his principles and then get let off having to face the repercussions? But a superdog? A superdog? Is that for the readers who find superman is too complex a character?
posted by biffa at 6:02 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Even Superman was a tedious repetition of the same meme: really powerful, wins at the end, return to stable universe, no meaningful development.

To be fair, you've just described pretty much every mainstream US superhero comic storyline ever.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:08 PM on December 11, 2009


But a superdog? A superdog?

That's part of the fun of some of these DC Comics, they are so unabashedly stupid and fun to read. I get a real Kavalier and Clay sense of "Shit, we need a new character and 10 pages on it by Monday!" These guys were cranking that stuff out month after month.

If I was going to complain about this list, it would be the fact that this cover wasn't on it.
posted by marxchivist at 6:16 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know what, if your complaint is that superhero comics aren't complex or realistic enough, I have this wild idea and it's don't read superhero comics.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:37 PM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm not asking for Umberto Eco, I'm not asking for David Simon, I'm just asking for a storyline that's a little more than humourless, witless, ex-Robin, saviour of Tonka town saves Tonka town.

And no superdog.
posted by biffa at 6:43 PM on December 11, 2009


You can have my comic books when you pry Beppo The Super-Monkey from my cold, dead hands.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:51 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or Comet, or Streaky or Proty for that matter.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:54 PM on December 11, 2009


I'm still leaning towards getting this image from Action #1 as a tattoo.

I dunno about the placement of some of these covers, but tyranny of the majority and all that.

so when are we starting the Mefi comicbook club again?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:20 PM on December 11, 2009


So... in a boxing match between Muhammad Ali versus Superman, who's supposed to be the winner? huh [wikipedia], interesting...

I think I have a copy of that "The *New* Teen Titans" (28 tie) somewhere...
posted by porpoise at 7:40 PM on December 11, 2009


I'm not asking for Umberto Eco, I'm not asking for David Simon, I'm just asking for a storyline that's a little more than humourless, witless, ex-Robin, saviour of Tonka town saves Tonka town.

And no superdog.


I'm picturing an endless parade of post-Watchmen overly earnest grimfests, each and every one exceeding the last in it's attempts to trumpet itself as "art".
posted by Artw at 7:41 PM on December 11, 2009


Different strokes and all that. I go to different comics (or films, or novels, or music) looking for different stuff with different expectations. I like the hell out of some Watchmen, and some Maus. I also enjoy the heck out of Brian Bolland, Mark Schultz, and Dave Stevens. Those guys can fucking draw. But how long did it take those 12 issues of Watchmen to come out? Let's not even talk about Xenozoic Tales or Camelot 3000.

More and more, my hat is off to guys like Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson, Gardner Fox, Robert Kanigher, Murray Boltinoff, Julius Schwartz, Mike Sekowsky, Curt Swan, George Tuska, John Romita, John and Sal Buscema. Kirby and Ditko of course. These guys drew and wrote thousands of comic pages, month after month, year after year. Sold them for 15 cents each, printed on cheap-ass pulp paper, everybody probably assumed they'd get thrown away after being traded around between the kids and carried around in their back pockets.

But the stories they wrote and drew made sense, and you could tell what in the hell was going on. They knew how to tell a story. The majority of people doing Marvel and DC Superhero titles today don't know how to do that. I was really into comics when Alan Moore and Frank Miller were hot, and doing good stuff. But man, it sure is fun to sit down and read a stack of smelly old Challengers of the Unknown, Cave Carson, or , dare I say, The Legion of Super-Pets.

*falls off soapbox, in doing so, knocks kids off lawn*

I just love that shit, that doesn't mean anyone else has to.
posted by marxchivist at 8:10 PM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Top __" lists with 'ties' are lame.
posted by cribcage at 9:04 PM on December 11, 2009


Of course Superman is going to wear a tie - when disguised as PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST Clark Kent! Or do you expect journalists not to wear neckties, you filthy beatnik?
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on December 11, 2009


75 "icons?" Someone is unclear on the principle of "iconic." Even 25 is stretching it a little bit.

Some of these are iconic in the sense that they are the models for a thousand other covers: Jimmy Olsen as Turtleboy, Superman/Superboy/Supergirl in the center of the cover surrounded by thumbnails of other characters, heroes quitting the job, a looming menace seen in the background, heroes and villains locked in a DEADLY GAME OF CHESS!

Others fronted big stories with big changes, but the covers aren't necessarily that special. They're iconic in the sense that they stand for that big change,and remind us of it.

Some of them are just nice art.

But to me, the true iconic covers are the ones that spring to mind when you think of the character, or of superheroes in general. Action #1 fits that definition. The Batman Year One cover is another, as is the Dark Knight cover. There aren't many that fit the bill. Certainly not 75.

I guess someone had a bunch of second-string Silver Age comics boxed up that they wanted to sel.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:16 PM on December 11, 2009


I'm pretty sure I went into this with an open mind, but I got all the way to #58 before the covers weren't out-and-out laughable or stupid. I mean, we're turning into trees? I seriously wondered whether this was a wind-up.

As someone who bought tons of comics through the 70s and 80s, let me opine that DC sucked ass 99% of the time. You've got Neal Adams and nothing else, basically. I'm going back and reading a lot of the DC stuff now, and I'm happy to say that Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali seems just as dumb as it when I was a little kid.

Remember kids, DC = Dumb Comic

/grabs the toilet paper
posted by stinkycheese at 9:18 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Superman #233 should be ranked higher than #34... that's the image that launched a thousand licensed Superman products.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:30 PM on December 11, 2009


Is the a good place to ask what comic this great image of Krypto the Superdog is from? Anyone know where I can find a good high-res scan of it?

TinEye helped ID it as being from Superman #659 - however, googling revealed that the Kurt Busiek-written Krypto story planned for that issue was bumped. I can't find out if it was ever printed, I'm afraid.

Also, this is a great opportunity to congratulate the Comics Should Be Good! crowd on their 5th anniversary!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:51 PM on December 11, 2009


But a superdog? A superdog? Is that for the readers who find superman is too complex a character?

I think it was for children.
posted by benzenedream at 9:51 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


You take back what you said about the Hulk Faze. You take it back right now.

Even as a kid I knew that Hulk was the strangest and artiest of all the comics. While other superheroes were nothing more than detectives in spandex and carnival masks, Hulk was a thing unto himself -- part Frankenstein, part Beauty and the Beast, part unrepentant Id of the atomic age-- Hulk was the only character that could consistently inspire pathos in the reader, while at the same time he was hurling tanks over the horizon.
posted by vronsky at 10:01 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Got it, got it, got it, missed it, don't know it, got it, want it, want it, got it ... AAAAH! Had it, got lost somewhere in the last thirty years ... got it, want it ...
posted by yhbc at 10:12 PM on December 11, 2009


I'm picturing an endless parade of post-Watchmen overly earnest grimfests, each and every one exceeding the last in it's attempts to trumpet itself as "art".

Nah, I'm happy with a bit of Bendis and the Avengers.
posted by biffa at 1:42 AM on December 12, 2009


marxchivist, apparently the Krypto image was to be the cover from Superman #659, which was to be about Krypto. In the end they changed the issue to be about Superman as an Angel instead. The art for the original Krypto cover was done by Carlos Pacheco.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:49 AM on December 12, 2009


Or what Alvy said.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:50 AM on December 12, 2009


Jimmy Havok pretty much wrote what I was going to say. Yes, these are fun covers but they're stretching the definition of iconic, if not missing it by a country mile. If the inclusion of Sandman #8 is to indicate when the series started getting serious then it's a landmark issue, not an iconic cover.

As for the state of comics today we're actually in a renaissance of comics as an art form. Some of the best comics ever made are being published today, including some about spandex-clad underwear-on-the-outside characters. I'll put Greg Rucka & J.H. Williams III's Detective Comics against any of those Challengers of the Unknown, Cave Carson or Legion of Super Pets books. There's also a burgeoning and vibrant comics industry outside of the big two and spandex fisticuffs which deserves far more attention than they're currently getting.

Anyway, 90% of what's being published today is crap. But that's not news and it was just as true back in the day.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:02 AM on December 12, 2009


Yeah, "iconic" is a pretty wrong word to use for this list. Should have been "75 DC Covers I Like."
posted by marxchivist at 6:33 AM on December 12, 2009


Faze speaks heresy! SEIZE HIM!
posted by Scoo at 7:52 AM on December 12, 2009


How can there be 75 "Iconic" anything?
posted by delmoi at 8:07 AM on December 12, 2009


I have 75 iconc representations of computer executables on my virtual desktop.
posted by GuyZero at 9:55 AM on December 12, 2009


Most of these covers just kinda remind me why I don't read superhero comics.
posted by egypturnash at 12:26 PM on December 12, 2009


Jack Kirby of the ugly, grimacing mouths; Jack Kirby of the squat, blocky figures; Jack Kirby of the ugly, downturned mouths; Jack Kirby of leaden outlines; Jack Kirby of the giant, crudely rendered fists with boxlike knuckles; Jack Kirby of the clumsy, swirling outerspace with heavily outlined stars; Jack Kirby with this pompous, ham-handed "cosmic" story lines; Jack Kirby the stiff; Jack Kirby who invaded the DC universe just as it was entering its death throes, and weighed it down with his crude, Marvelesque story lines, giant fists, teeth, and musculature borrowed from the statue of Atlas in front of Rockefeller Center. Poor DC, which for some reason had an inferiority complex, allowed this oaf into their sweet china shop, and our culture is still suffering for it. And here's more: Barack Obama is DC. John McCain is Marvel. Sarah Palin is DC. Jon Stewart Marvel. Conan O'Brian is DC. "Lost" is Marvel...
posted by Faze at 12:44 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jack Kirby, the creator of Captain America, The Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men, Darkseid and the New Gods. Kirby is one of the most influential figures in comics, not the 1960's equivalent of Rob Liefeld.
posted by factory123 at 2:41 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not to mention Black Bolt and the Inhumans. Nuff said.
posted by vronsky at 9:32 PM on December 12, 2009


Jack Kirby of the ugly, grimacing mouths...

That I still can't tell if you are joking or not says something about the average quality of comic-centric discussions on the internets...

On the chance that you are not joking (And the McCain/Palin comparisons lead me to think you are, but I'm in the mood to blabber anyway), I will agree that you are right about Jack Kirby's style being unappealing to you - most of your critiques are basically just rejecting his aesthetic, and there's nothing wrong with that, taste's taste. That said, the outlines thing is a little offbase, as that would be a failing of the inker - but yeah, a shit inker could really make for some bleah-looking Kirby. If you mean plot outlines, you are missing the mark again - despite what you said, Kirby's greatest skill as a writer was in plotting and scenarios and concepts; as a dialogue man, he was not so great.

The reason DC had a well-deserved inferiority complex in the late sixties was because, at the beginning of the decade, they controlled Marvel's distribution - think about that, they called the shots on their competitor's output. Yet within a few years of debuting their own superheroes (Timely/Atlas/Marvel were notorious for being trendchasers - legend has it that publisher Martin Goodman only decided to take another kick at the cape can after a DC honcho remarked on how lucrative their revamped superhero books were doing during a round of golf), Marvel was handily cleaning their Distinguished Competition's fairly dusty clock, despite the latter's five year head start in the genre, thanks in no small part to the dynamism of Kirby's work and the stagnation that had already set in at DC*.

*Arnold Roth's Doom Patrol being a notable exception. Despite being DC's failed attempt to out-humanize/out-offbeat Marvel's Amazingly Fantastically Incredible stable of characters, that stuff still holds up pretty good, in most cases better than the stuff it was inspired by.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:34 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Silver age. What a fucking misnomer. Silver age? The time whe it was settled that comics meant lowest common-denominator fodder for kids, bereft of anything that would give the most conservative and unimaginative concern. Dark ages more like. Shitty stories, mediocre art, crap publication quality. The fawning over the era never ceases to bemuse me.
posted by rodgerd at 1:32 AM on December 13, 2009


Silver Age comics were and are essential for this reason: they were so heavily censored that the creators had to come up with wildly imaginative images to fill the void left by forbidden sexy violent ones. They did such a great job at this that, some 50 years later, comics are still mining and updating its Phantom Zones and Danger Rooms and bottle cities. Silver Age comics were the Second Big Bang.

And if you seriously hate Kirby's work, I defend your right to do so and mine to pity you.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 9:56 AM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have to agree with Superfrankenstein. The beauty of the Silver Age is the sheer looniness of invention that went on, the reworking of the same themes over and over into fractal iterations of themselves, so even though you'd seen the same theme to a story a hundred times and knew exactly where it was going, you still were eager to see what strange facet would be polished onto it this time.

I was pretty contemptuous of the Silver Age in my teens (as it was dying) but now I can see the qualities that the stories and art manifested within their constraints. I especially enjoy the realism that Curt Swan brought to the Superman Family, including pot bellies and jowls. If you saw Perry White on the street, you'd recognize him in an instant.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:27 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Alien Vs. Cereal: a rather loquacious alien expoun...  |  Snapshots of Mike the Headless... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments