Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alex Ross Does More Guardians and X-Men for Marvel's 75th Anniversary


Doug: Marvel's latest solicitations are out, and Alex Ross has two variant covers in the offerings. As has been the case over the past several months, these covers are in celebration of Marvel Comics' 75th Anniversary. Today's fare rank among my favorites in the entire project! Naysayers -- have at it!


  1. The Guardians image is pretty good, but I have to say, neither of these hold a candle to those awesome Darwyn Cooke images from a few days ago...

  2. Oh, I dunno Edo-- I think it's truly an apples/oranges comparison. Would you say Andrew Wyeth is the better painter, of Van Gogh, y'know? Stylistically so different that it really falls into the realm of personal taste and what speaks to each viewer individually. The habit of my taste is still to fall more into Ross' camp, I think-- although I will admit that Cooke has the edge on capturing the warmth and heart of the specific moments that he puts on the page. I'm not sure we get a lot of that from these latest Ross works, as they seem much more like movie posters than snap-shots of a story.

    Of these two, I do prefer the GotG work. VERY retro, pulp-sci-fi feel to it-- like it could be right of the cover of an old issue of ASTOUNDING or something. I have to say, though, that I'm still not loving the skewed/tilted POV thing that Ross seems to be married to nowadays. It simply does not help me to actually SEE the image-- it gets in the way of being able to take the moment in. . . a bit of a visual barrier, really.

    Boy, how does Ross put out so many paintings so quickly? Has anyone ever seen an interview where he discusses his average timetable? I mean, this things can't be the product of a couple of days work, y'know?


  3. I have to go with Edo on this one. I personally don't love either one of these images. The colors are way too muted for my tastes.

    I've always liked Ross' work, especially back in his Marvels and Kingdom Come heyday. I have a poster of his Amazing Fantasy 15 cover on my wall. But lately it seems his stuff has gotten a little loose and rushed looking (or something like that) that I can't quite put my finger on.

    Don't get me wrong, Ross is an extremely gifted artist, who will forever be revered amongst the comicbook community, but I prefer my comicbook characters looking more comicbooky.

    So, if I had a choice of reading a book with art by Darwyn Cooke, or art by Alex Ross, I'd definitely go with Cooke every time.

    But as HB pointed out, that is more a matter of personal taste than anything else.

  4. You know, after looking at those paintings again, I think I know what's bugging me.

    They both kind of have a Joe Jusko vibe to them. And I never really cared too much for Jusko's superhero/comic work.

  5. William, I definitely get a Jusko vibe from Thunderbird in particular in the X-Men painting.

    HB, as many of our readers comment that they feel Ross's work is too static, I find it interesting that you say the tilted images (which yes, does seem to be overused) are distracting. While no doubt we're dealing with flat 2D images, that to me is Ross's way of adding dynamism to the work.

    I am happy to see that on the last several paintings we've looked at that Ross seems to have moved toward a more traditional "four color" palette and away from his odd monochromatic works.

    I think Storm's face is flat in the X-Men painting. I really like the Guardians painting, and I know virtually nothing of Star-Lord!


  6. I guess I'm a Ross groupie. I really like both of those covers. The Starlord pose reminds me of the cover of Marvel Preview 11:

  7. I really like Ross's work (especially his earlier work). But sometimes if I look at it too long, I start to question the perspective and layout. At first glance I really like these - but as I was looking at the Guardians one, I realized I could not really "see" the enemy well. They just look hazy and ill-defined and I cannot really tell what they are. The light and the fuzzy outlines make them too indecipherable. Also, I initially thought the female character was Nikki - not so though and again I cannot really tell who she is. She blends in with Charlie 27 too much. In the X-Men - I really like the characters individually, but here perspective gets in the way. How big is the Beast? The position of Jean's hand makes Hank either huge or her very tiny. They don't seem to be on the same plane and I would have thought Jean is behind Beast. Some characters seem thrown in - Wolverine's position seems odd and I start to question how much distance he can get in a leap or is he going to tackle a fellow X-Man. I also feel like Sunfire is tacked in to fill space - but not really positioned well in the story the scene shows. I don't know why these things distract me, but they do. I like Ross's general handling of the characters but some of the dynamics of the layout and lighting and clarity leave me less impressed.

  8. Martinex --

    If I can be an apologist for Ross, I'd counter your argument about the Guardians cover by saying that it's just that -- a cover. Curiosity might grab the buyer and make him/her lift the book from the shelf for a peek inside. So any ill-defining seems more marketing to me if I think of the image in that regard.

    My sense of the X-Men cover from the time I saw it was that it's a jam piece. Think about it -- that mix of characters was never together, as the Beast was absent from Giant-Size X-Men #1 and X-Men #s 94-95. So I didn't get the sense that there really was any story being told.

    My points-of-view, for what they're worth.


  9. I agree that I am over analyzing. Like I said I generally like Ross, the Guardians, and the X-Men. Actually I think the Beast figure is outstanding and I like his retro Starlord a lot. I have this weird habit even when looking at covers and asking "what are people standing on?" And then I can't unsee it (ie Xavier and Cyclops floating in the background -although maybe I should chalk that up to Jean's telekinesis. Ha.). But Doug your point is absolutely correct as I have no doubt that if this was a cover I saw on a spinner rack I would not even hesitate.

  10. The GotG print looks, as has been said, like a snapshot of some action sequence, as though Ross has frozen a moment of time, as though he has trapped time almost.

    With the X-Men, I at first thought it was just a random collection of X-Men images thrown against canvas to see what would stick. Then I thought, what if you printed it out, tapped it to a can and rotated it, would that make it work. Then I started to try to put like images together.

    Then I saw something shiny. There went the day.

    The Prowler (run and hide your crazy and start acting like a lady).

    PS: Wait, like tomorrow tomorrow, like only a day away tomorrow? I need to put the cat out and hit CVS before all the smokes are gone!!!!!!!

  11. OK we all know that Ross is not everyone's cup of tea. Personally, I like these two covers he painted. The Guardians look good, especially Starlord swooping in to zap whatever baddie that is supposed to be.

    The X-men poster looks cool too. I like the classic Storm costume here. My only quibble here is that Ororo looks as if she's reclining on a bed! It would look more natural if Ross drew a bed as the background! If Storm is supposed to be flying then this doesn't do her justice. I would have preferred a more dynamic pose for her in this cover.

    - Mike 'mellow and undynamic' from Trinidad & Tobago.

  12. I'm trying to think if I've ever heard anyone discuss the JSA covers Ross did a number of years back. The ones that, for the most part, were simply individual 3/4 length portraits against a black background? I LOVED those so MUCH! Across the board, they quietly conveyed an incredible sense of the characters' self-confidence-- pretty much brimming with "power at rest", as it were.

    The Jay Garrick Flash, of all things, is its own subtle, easily-overlooked masterpiece.

    (A tangent, yes-- but I just felt compelled to put that out there. . . !)


  13. Neither is especially coherent, but I like the stolen StarLord pose.

    Why is Cyclops a tiny figure in the background? Just another bizarre layout from Ross. It's not his strength.

  14. Those covers are ok. But they lack the dynamic nature of Marvels.
    Remember the scene of Giant Man towering over everyone walking down a NYC street?
    That one is burned on my retinas. Loved it!
    I am a Ross fan. Justice was good because of the artwork.

    Darwyn Cooke easily conveys motion and energy in his work. He elicits excitement without effort on the part of the reader.

  15. William (Preston), I noticed that about Cyclops, as well. Maybe Ross is giving a nod to when Storm assumed leadership of the team, who's prominently featured front and center and leading the charge of the others?

    Ross's strength may be in the fact that his layouts are more suggestive than representational, leaning more toward general nostalgia. He does tend to throw everything but the kitchen sink into a good deal of his work; I much prefer the "less is more" approach when he steps up to the drawing board.