Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Top 10 Despero Covers (Updated & Revised)

Official Justice League Of America Index #8 (1987)
I first attempted a top ten list of Despero covers six years ago. Since 2010, Comic Vine stopped allowing remote embeds of art, so I had to do my own hosting (and a few scans.) There's also been a fair few new covers produced in that time, and I felt the need to reevaluate the earlier rankings as well.

Despero the Destroyer is something of a nemesis to the Manhunter from Mars, and there is no shortage of impressive images of him. However, because he's often the big bad in a big reveal during a story, the covers often do not reflect the magnitude of his presence.

Honorary Mentions:

10) Justice League of America #38 (2009 Andy Kubert Variant Cover)

Left this one off on the first try because it wasn't very imaginative, but neither was the Gary Frank Supergirl cover, and in retrospect I think the technique and impact were greater here.

9) Justice League of America #133 (August, 1976)

Flanked by the world's greatest heroes, Despero kills Superman and ask who wants next.

8) Justice League Task Force #27 (September, 1995)

The finest cover example of Despero's gun-toting, anti-heroic, "the Savage Dragon stole my bit" period.

7) Superman/Batman #33 (March, 2007)

Literally chewing up a host of alien heroes in his jagged maw. I went back and forth on the placement of this one, because it seems static at first blush, but then I factored in the World's Finest duo reflected in Despero's third eye which also incorporates the logo and the demolished cities in his main two eyes. That took a fair amount of thought to execute.

6) R.E.B.E.L.S. #12 (March, 2010)

Nothing says "we're in trouble" like someone holding Despero's severed head, while nothing quite says "our way out is almost as frightening as how deep we're in" like Vril Dox grinning.

5) Justice League Task Force #31 (January, 1996)

Just a striking image of Despero in bondage-- no small accomplishment. You want to know how this happened and who the captor is.

4) Justice League America #39 (June, 1990)

I almost threw in the issue where Despero crash lands in the JLI's midst, but he's just a funky colored blob in an intentionally obscured image. Here, you can clearly see the result of his onslaught, and the beginning of his fan favorite villain status. I lowered this one because the composition isn't all that interesting. Despite the damage done to the surrounding city, it's still standing, as is Despero's lone visible adversary, J'Onn J'Onzz. It's got attitude and a low key swagger,

3) Justice League of America #251 (June, 1986)

The first clear cover image of Despero reborn as a finhawked badass of massive scale. I moved this one up in rank because while it foreshadows the Despero-smash sameness of many post-1990 pieces, it's more metaphorical than representational in that regard. Despero is god-sized, threatening to smash the League with their own satellite, as two worlds visibly appear bound to collide. Also, while his new wardrobe said "barbarian warlord" instead of "alien telepath," that's a lot more distinctive than the naked pink Hulk he'd later become.

2) Justice League of America #178 (May, 1980)

A great riff on Despero's debut, beautifully rendered by Jim Starlin, and the first indication of personal animosity toward the Martian Manhunter. I had to move this one up in rank because it's simply too swell for fifth place, but also because it includes classic character touches and the twist of the Leaguers as miniaturized chess pieces reacting individually.

1) Justice League of America #1 (November, 1960)

The original. The classic. One of the most inspired and imitated covers of all time.

1 comment:

Grant Richter said...

Wow. The Starlin cover is freaking amazing