More DC Cover Grousing: BANNERMANIA is Running Wild!

Posted by on Thursday, July 1st, 2010 at 02:08:13 PM

My complaint about DC’s handling of interlocking covers a couple weeks ago got me thinking more about recent comic covers. Big Two superhero comics have long been a place for boilerplate standard cover layouts: title along the top, number and company logo in the top left cover, more recently creator credits running below the logo/number. In principle I applaud any attempt to expand the range of the covers, though more often than not that just seems to involve running some sort of design element across the top or side of the book, something that goes back to DC’s “Go Go Checks” or the little translucent bar along the spine of practically every Vertigo book in the 1990s. Whoever designed the covers for Ink and the Rise & Fall crossover went in for some blocking, and messed up the interlocking covers in the process.

To be sure there have been good recent examples of blocky cover design elements that instantly define a line of books:


While some people complained about all of these designs, particularly Civil War and Siege and how about half of each cover’s space is devoted to “design”, at a glance you immediately recognize these as Ultimate/Civil War/Final Crisis/Siege titles. Marvel’s been going nuts with these lately, giving crossover events and even individual story arcs a unique unified cover design:


I’m not in love with all of these (though Stark Disassembled and PunisherMAX both look so nice that I nearly regret being a trades-only guy) and yes, most of them also involve blocking out areas. Blockiness isn’t really the problem, considering that practically every comic ever is going to be quadrilateral. But at the very least they have distinct cover schemes. On the other hand, check out the following selection culled from only the past two years of DC titles:


Banners! Banners!! Banners!!! This isn’t even counting all of the ‘SECOND FEATURE’ banners that appear on top of some DC titles, or more often along the bottom because some other banner is already on top: that’s right, DC is now resorting to multi-bannered covers. Banners are approaching the abused status that colons suffered during the dark period of Countdown Presents: The Challengers of the Beyond: The Search for Ray Palmer: Wildstorm though I pray DC finds help before they hit that low.

Then again, yesterday saw the release of Action Comics #890. Action has had a banner for the past thirty issues, with New Krypton/Origins & Omens/World Without Superman/Codename Patriot/World Against Superman/Last Stand of New Krypton cluttering things up for over two years, often with a “Second Feature: Captain Atom” banner running along the bottom. Finally, with a fresh new creative team (Paul Cornell & Pete Woods) and a new lead character (Lex Luthor), you’d think Action Comics could slip loose the surly bonds of ugly banners, right?

action890Just kidding!

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