Ah, the comic book cover. There is something unique about the cover that stands out, sometimes more than the content of the book! In fact, there’s a whole market for stylish variant covers done by guest artists.
However, there are some covers that irk or insult more than inspire. This is especially true of the comics of yesteryear, which had to be incredibly sensationalized and bizarre in order to sell. Since then, many covers have more-or-less turned into glorified pin-up pages and standalone images that may or may not relate to what’s happening within the books.
Don’t get us wrong — artistic freedom is great, but there are times when decisions are made that rustle a few jimmies unnecessarily. We at CBR are fascinated by these beautiful train wrecks, and have decided to compile some of the most notorious covers to ever hit the shelves.
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Judge A Book: 15 Controversial Comic Book Covers
Judge A Book: 15 Controversial Comic Book Covers Click to watch
15. Sex Criminals’ Variant Covers
It’s kind of amazing that Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s ongoing series “Sex Criminals” gained the acclaim that it did. The topic of sexuality in fiction as a whole (especially in comics) is something of a hairy topic for many, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised with Zdarsky and Fraction’s view of sexuality in this urban fantasy noir. It’s also brought in some fantastic variant covers. Perhaps the biggest head-turner among the covers featuring art from commissioned illustrators was the variant by Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley.
It was… overt, to say the least. Featuring some full-frontal nudity, which looks really weird in O’Malley’s cartoonish art style. We are also treated to a huge phallic goombah from Super Mario Brothers. So that happened. We shouldn’t be too surprised. This is a comic about sex, after all, and it’s by Zdarsky and Fraction. Still, we hope Nintendo didn’t see it.
14. DC’s New Teen Titans # 1
Right off the bat, we’ve got a lot to unpack with this one. Long-time readers will remember when former DC editor Janelle Asselin did a big take-down of the cover for “DC’s New Teen Titans” when it came out. To summarize the key points, there is a sexualized teen girl on the front cover with what look like silicone implants, a hugely distracting signature between said teen girl’s legs and very bizarre placement and framing of each of her teammates. All this was done with an incredibly dated and unflattering art style ripped from the dark and pungent corners of ’90s “Cool.”
Unfortunately, certain ill-tempered fans took umbrage with the claims Asselin made, to the point that they bombarded her with threats of violence. Obviously, we know that many of our readers are good people and we do not believe in harassing people over comic covers (particularly ones about sexualized teenagers), but as we’ll see these are not exactly isolated incidents. Case in point…