10 Amazing Marvel Comic Book Covers –
When it comes to comic books, the story and artwork are the most important aspects of the book. Even though that’s true, nobody is going to pick up an issue and read it if the cover art is terrible, which is why cover art is the most important aspect of any comic book ever published.
Marvel Comics has been around since 1939 and has introduced the world to some of the most iconic superheroes ever created. Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Black Panther are only a small number of the incredible characters the company has produced, but nobody would know about them without the beautiful cover art made over the years.
The comic book covers considered to be the best often contain some of the most well-written stories ever told, which is why many of the books on this list will be familiar. Whether they were pivotal issues or not, these comics are the ones Marvel is best known for… and for good reason.
10. Silver Surfer #4
John Buscema worked with Stan Lee on the first four issues of the Silver Surfer series in the 1960s and they turned out some phenomenal work. The last one they worked on, Silver Surfer #4, is considered to be their best collaboration, but making the book was no easy task.
According to Buscema, Lee tore apart much of his work on the book… literally. He stormed into his office one day and ripped up the pages he didn’t like, which left an impression on the artist.
Years later, Lee called him to discuss the book and its success, but Lee didn’t recall tearing up the pages or the conversation at all. It’s a shame he ripped up some classic Silver Age Buscema art, but the book they turned out went on to become one of the best of the Age.
Silver Surfer #4’s cover art by Buscema is absolutely beautiful. The stark contrast between the characters and the background highlights them in a dramatic way. Their poses suggest action and intense conflict in a way static artwork often fails to capture. Because of the story and intense artwork, this book is often valued higher than the first in the series.
9. Fantastic Four #48
Fantastic Four #48 is one of those landmark issues within the franchise, not because of the titular characters, but rather for those it introduced. This issue saw the first appearances of Galactus and the Silver Surfer, both of whom would go on to become integral characters within the greater Marvel Cosmic Universe.
The Coming of Galactus was the beginning of a three-issue miniseries dealing with the threat of Earth’s destruction at the hands of the planet-eater and his herald.
By the time the story concluded, Galactus agreed to leave Earth alone, though he abandoned/trapped the Silver Surfer within its atmosphere. This allowed for the eventual creation of a Silver Surfer standalone series, which makes this issue one of the most important Fantastic Four books ever printed.
Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott’s artwork for the cover perfectly captures the fear and foreboding of an unknown threat. At this point, the heroes know little of Galactus, as do the readers, which is why their stance and gaze towards the unknown suggests an ominous tone. The image instills a fear of the threat without ever showing what that threat looks like and it’s one of the best covers drawn for the series.
8. Spider-Man #300
There have been some incredible Spider-Man covers over the years (With more than a couple landing on this list), but Todd McFarlane’s work on The Amazing Spider-Man #300 is one of the most impactful and memorable.
To be fair, any McFarlane cover could be on this list… Spider-Man #1 almost made the cut, but issue 300 doesn’t just feature a spectacular cover, it introduced Venom in his first full appearance and is one of the most important Spider-Man books published in the past 30 years.
Venom would go on to become one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes, which is saying something seeing as his rogues’ gallery was fully established long before this book was published. The character went on to star in his own series and landed a feature film in 2018.
There are two elements of this cover that make it stand out; the image of Spider-Man breaking out of the center circle denotes action and intensity while the repeated “300” in red over black lets you know exactly why this issue is important. Marvel traditionally makes a big deal of centennial issues, and their tricentennial issue of Amazing Spider-Man was no exception.
7. Iron Man #128
These days, it’s pretty clear to the world that Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, has a drinking problem. You don’t often see Robert Downey Jr. without a glass of something in his hands over at the MCU, but alcoholism was a touchy subject in comics for years, which is why Iron Man #128 is such a landmark issue in the series.
Back when the Comics Code of Authority was a thing, publishers couldn’t put up provocative stories about alcohol or drug use without a whole mess of trouble. Marvel decided to roll the dice with the nine-issue story arc called Demon in a Bottle, which began with issue 120 and ended with this issue.
This series has been called “the quintessential Iron Man story” by critics and is often regarded as one of the best stories to feature the character. It influenced every Iron Man story that followed and raised awareness of alcoholism with fans.
Bob Layton illustrated the cover for this issue, which shows a man who has truly reached rock bottom. The desperation and shame in Stark’s eyes shows his struggle and truly captures the pain and damage that comes with alcoholism, even for one of Earth’s Greatest Heroes.
6. Marvels #1
Marvels was a miniseries that amounted to an homage Marvel made to its past. The four-issue miniseries delved into the history of Marvel’s most important events between 1939 and 1974, with the stories unfolding from the perspective of the Everyman character – a news photographer named Phil Sheldon.
The series was released in 1994 and was one of the most celebrated miniseries Marvel has ever published. The first issue revolves around the origin of the first Human Torch, the android created by Phineas Horton, and the public’s reaction to a new world with superheroes. Subsequent issues detail the rise of mutants and other important events in Marvel’s publishing history.
Alex Ross painted each panel as well as the covers for the books, and while each and every painting is a masterpiece, the cover art for the very first image says so much about Marvel Comics’ history, it stands as the best of them all.
The image is an homage to the first appearance of the character in Marvel Comics #1, originally published in October, 1939. While it pays tribute to that original cover, it stands apart as its own unique take on the character in a way only Ross could truly illustrate.
5. Avengers #57
Typically, when a publisher introduces a new character, they are thrown into the book somewhere far from the cover. There may be a tease in text about a hidden threat lurking around somewhere, but in most cases, the new character rarely graces the cover.
When it came to the introduction of Vision to the Silver Age, Marvel not only put him on the cover, he took up a good 80% of it! This choice created a stark, in-your-face presentation, which could only have been made by the likes of John Buscema.
This was the first appearance of Vision, but it was technically the second version of the character to appear in Marvel’s books. His introduction was a compromise between writers Stan Lee and Roy Thomas who wanted to bring back the Golden Age version of the character, but with a twist.
Making Vision an android was a bold step, and it paid off. He brought back or made mention of previous characters like the Golden Age Human Torch, but he also stemmed from Ultron and increased the popularity of the characters related to him. It all stemmed from this amazing cover, which may not be the most valuable Avengers book, but it is one of the best covers from the entire series.
4. Captain America Comics #1
When it comes to superheroes from the Golden Age of Comics, Marvel (formerly Timely Comics) had some incredible characters, but none so perfectly patriotic as Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.
Back in March, 1941, the United States had not yet entered the Second World War. The country watched in amazed horror as Europe and Asia succumbed to the might of the Axis Powers, but remained on the sidelines, reluctant to get involved.
That message failed to make it to the desks of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who thrust America into the conflict in the boldest way possible: they put their character, brandished in red, white, and blue, on the cover of a comic book punching out the Chancellor of Germany.
At the time, this was considered quite controversial. After all, the U.S. wasn’t at war with anyone at this point, but that didn’t stop Captain America from doing what was right. Hindsight being what it is, it seems perfectly natural to kick Hitler’s ass, but that wasn’t the consensus when this book went to print, which is why Jack Kirby’s cover stands as one of the best in the history of comics.
3. Amazing Spider-Man #50
One of the ‘jobs’ a comic book cover has it to convey the message of the book in a single image. Often, this can be difficult to accomplish as there are typically 20-25 pages in each book. Choosing an image that sums up those pages can be challenging, but when it works out well, the results can be amazing.
Spider-Man comics have always been able to do this well. The Amazing Spider-Man issues 2 and 129 did this remarkably well with images of the Vulture dangling Spidey over the city, or the Punisher showing him in his sights perfectly depicting what the books contained.
The best example of this, with what many consider to be the most evocative cover from Spidey’s Silver Age library, was John Romita’s The Amazing Spider-Man #50, which told the story, “Spider-Man No More!”
Not only did this issue tell an amazing story, which included the first appearance of Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, it shows Peter what would happen were he to hang up his tights and quit being Spider-Man. Romita’s drawing on the cover captured this in a single image with Peter literally walking away from his responsibilities. It was a bold statement and an even bolder image collectors have been going after for decades.
2. Giant-Size X-Men #1
When a major comic book franchise changes things up, it can be dangerous to the brand. The world went crazy when Superman lost his external underwear, and that was just a costume change, so it shouldn’t be surprising that changing an entire team lineup might cause a stir.
When Giant-Size X-Men #1 hit the stands in 1975, it had only been 12 years since the first X-Men issue reached publication, but Marvel decided to shake things up with a whole new team. This issue introduced them in the best possible way on the cover.
Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird were introduced in this issue alongside their new teammates, Wolverine, Banshee, Sunfire, and Cyclops as they burst through the pages of the book onto the cover. Behind them, the old team roster looks on in shock and amazement as the new blood takes the place of the old.
Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum’s action-packed cover image perfectly captured this momentous occasion. Marvel hadn’t printed a new X-Men story in five years by the time this book was published, so this was a gamble, but it was one that certainly paid off with more than 40 years of successful X-Titles that followed.
1. Amazing Fantasy #15
Marvel began from Timely Comics back in the 1940s so it had been around for a long time before the Silver Age was a thing. In all those years of comic book publishing, there were some amazing characters and beautiful covers, but nothing compares to the introduction of Marvel’s most iconic superhero, Spider-Man.
1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced Spider-Man to the world with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko’s drawing of the character swinging from the buildings while holding a criminal in his arms. The story within told the origin of the character and arguably changed superhero comics forever.
Before Spider-Man, superheroes were either rich orphans who had it all or were godlike beings whose power went untested. Spider-Man was different. He was a teenager who had the same problems everyone in the real world had, but also had a daunting sense of responsibility thanks to the powers he was accidentally given.
Like DC’s Pre and Post-Crisis timelines, Marvel can be divided into a Pre and Post-Spider-Man era. This book divided Marvel in a way that helped bring superhero comics to a wider audience and with dozens of animated series, video games, movies, and comics, there’s no denying the importance of this gorgeous cover.
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