Marvels #3 (1994)
Cover art by Alex Ross, Marvel Comics.
This time the POP Retro Cover Of The Week is from the mid-1990s, when fussy cross-hatching and questionable anatomy was the prevalent art style, and a talented new artist was still trying to make a name for himself in comics: Alex Ross.
For decades, talented painters like Joe Jusko, Earl Norem, Bob Larkin had dazzled fans with painted covers for Marvel's B&W magazine covers, and their work came as close as we had yet seen to depicting heroes as they might look IRL. However, Alex Ross’s style was photorealistic to an extent never seen before in comics, and Marvels made him a superstar.
Marvels featured the advent of superheroes in New York City as seen through the eyes and lens of a Daily Bugle photojournalist, so it was very appropriate that Ross’s work was so snapshot hyper-real.
The cover of issue number 3 in the 4-issue series was the standout, with a close-up of the Silver Surfer, beautifully and expertly illustrated in all his chrome-plated glory. Any illustrator who has attempted it will tell you that chrome is damned difficult to render because you have to deal with all the damned reflections. Ross embraced the reflections challenge he made for himself, and all the meticulously details are exactly what made this cover so outstanding and phenomenal. Reflected in the Surfer’s head and body were: the New York City skyline, the curvature of the Earth’s horizon, and the fiery glow of the Human Torch approaching him. Even more amazing is how Ross treated the Surfer’s torso as symmetrical convex mirrors, so there are two Torches!
It was the first of many iconic covers of Alex Ross’ career, and I have no doubt that another will be chosen as a POP Retro Cover Of The Week, or a POP Cover Of The Week, since Ross is still a very prolific cover artist today.