Invisible Woman #2, Cover art by Adam Hughes, Marvel Comics.
"Invisible Woman #2" by Adam Hughes (virgin cover)
This POP Cover Of The Week features an illustrative technique created over a century ago: the Fadeaway. An advance preview of Adam Hughes’ cover for Invisible Woman #2 was an example included in a May POP Comics Art article on the novelty and enduring popularity of Fadeaways.
The Fadeaway was debuted by advertising and magazine cover artist Coles Phillips in the May 1908 issue of Life, and typically features a foreground figure in solid colored clothing, placed on a solid background the same color as the clothing. The colors merge seamlessly, causing the figure to “fade away” into the background, with the figure’s edges defined by surrounding objects or sometimes by a contrasting pattern on the clothing.
On the cover of Invisible Woman #2, the background as well as the clothing of Invisible Woman/Sue Storm and the Black Widow are all the same dark color gradation. Only the red-webbing-as-barbed-wire defines the outlines of their bodies. However, Hughes does cheat a bit with some highlights on Sue’s uniform, arms, and shoulders; I imagine the lighting was necessary to define the connection with her exposed hands and fingers. He more faithfully honors the Fadeaway technique on the flat coloring of the Black Widow. It’s a shame Hughes didn’t take full advantage of the technique on Sue, because who could possibly represent a better visual example of fading away than the Invisible Woman herself?
The illustration itself is typical Hughes: beautifully realistic renderings of the female form and all objects, expert metallic effects and hair highlights (bonus detail: Sue's hair getting caught in the web/wire!), and a nearly symmetrical cover composition…a very well-conceived design overall.
The trade dress (the comic title logo, the publisher logo, the issue number, etc.) for this cover was not, however. It was placed at the bottom of the cover and obscured nearly everything from the Black Widow’s arms to the bottom of the image. So, the “virgin” cover was chosen. A rare example where the trade dress is not a critical factor in the selection of POP Cover Of The Week.