The quest to discover the Best Cover EVER? continues. But the great thing about Best Cover EVER? is that there is no definitive Best Cover EVER?.
So each week we get to show you another great cover, and get another comiker to tell you all about it….
This week the cover suggestion comes from author James Lovegrove, whose prolific and quality output covers all ages, from children’s fiction (most recently his new series Ford & Keane), young adult and all the way to adult fiction.
His work includes the recent Pantheon series, mixing military sci-fi nd ancient gods and the Redlaw series combining vampire hunting and police procedural.
As well as his fiction writing, he reviews fiction for the Financial Times and contributes extensively to Comic Heroes magazine.
Moon Knight #29 – Marvel Comics, cover dated March 1983. Cover by Bill Sienkiewicz
Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz’s early-eighties run on Moon Knight was a superhero comic like no other. Moench took Moon Knight away from his origins as a poor man’s Batman, a Dark Knight in white, and made him infinitely more interesting with his soldier-of-fortune past and his multiple personalities, a good-doer standing forever on the brink of madness, ranged against a set of villains who were far removed from the standard Marvel fare, few of them super-powered, many of them downright psychotic. This was the superhero tale as itchy, feverish pulp-noir nightmare, its street-level feel pre-dating the grim ’n’ gritty trend of the 1990s by several years.
Sienkiewicz’s art started out aping Neal Adams but soon developed a distinctive style of its own, his pencils never looking better than when inked by the redoubtable Klaus Janson. As the series progressed, Sienkiewicz’s covers became ever more daring and experimental, full of ink spatters and colour washes, and their arc of inventiveness reached apotheosis with #29.
Minimalist, brutal, iconic, this cover graces a story, “Morning Star”, which sees Moon Knight reunited with the character he was originally created to battle: Jack Russell, a.k.a. Werewolf By Night. A werewolf’s baleful yellow eyes loom out from an entirely black background. Blood drips from its jaws onto one of Moon Knight’s shuriken-like throwing crescents. There’s scant visual information here, yet it’s more than enough. The threat is barely glimpsed but crystal clear. The blackness and boldness are immensely striking. At the time, nothing like it had been seen on the comic-shop shelves before. It stood out by virtue of saying so little so loudly.
It’s also a neat parody of the poster image for the musical Cats, which started its Broadway run the year this cover appeared – 1982. Instead of the blurred silhouettes of dancers that form the pupils of the cat’s eyes on the poster, Sienkiewicz has put sparks of eldritch light into his werewolf’s glare, a knowing look of pure evil. Maybe he understood more about Andrew Lloyd-Webber than the rest of us realised at the time.
Oh, that was magnificent, thank you so much to James for taking me right back to teenhood once more, discovering the utterly bizarre artwork (or at least it seemed that way to me at the time) of Bill Sienkiewicz. Makes me want to track down the issues now – and a quick check tells me the best way to do that is through Essential Moon Knight Volume 2.