The Retro Cover Of The Week is a Steve "Retro Fan" Rude painted classic from 1990: World's Finest #1

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

World’s Finest: Worlds Apart #1, 1990, DC Comics, Cover by Steve Rude.

The POP Retro Cover Of The Week continues its examination and celebration of iconic comic covers from the 1970s through the 2000s, this week returning to the Nineties, a decade that continued a publishing trend begun in the Eighties: perfect-bound miniseries with card stock covers.

One of my favorites was the three-issue series written by Dave Gibbons (the artist of favorites such as Watchmen and Green Lantern), and illustrated by one of my all-time favorite comic book artists, Steve Rude.

Rude was the co-creator of one of the most underrated comics of the Eighties and Nineties, Nexus, which featured some of the most beautiful painted cover art, ever. Rude’s design style and color palettes have always had a throwback look to them, a mash-up of Alex Toth, Maxfield Parrish, and Andrew Loomis, a prominent mid-century commercial art illustrator and illustration textbook author.

When he has done work for Marvel and DC, Rude prefers to use retro designs of characters, and nowhere was it more evident than in the 1990 miniseries World’s Finest. Long-time comic readers will recognize that title as the Superman/Batman team-up book that’s been around since the Golden Age, and occasionally gets revived.

Rude’s gorgeous cover to issue #1 features an attempt to illustrate the series theme of “Worlds Apart,” by having Superman and Batman depicted in literally two different lights. Superman is backlit by the golden rays of the sun with a flock of white doves, while Batman is backlit by the Bat-signal with a spray of bats in flight. Superman stands on the edge of a building which has a cornice featuring an eagle of Justice, while the rooftop Batman stands on features a gargoyle. There’s an awful of symbolism and metaphorical dichotomy crammed into this cover design, but Rude makes it look uncluttered.

Superman’s likeness and body type is heavily influenced by the Fleischer Bros. animated cartoons of the 1940s that Rude loves so much, while his Batman has a dark, sleek, Art Deco design. That Art Deco feel is carried through into the trade dress, with the retro comic title logo and cover fonts. The issue number designed into the triangle across the title banner is VERY Golden Age.

All the retro features of this cover make it a natural for the POP Retro Cover Of The Week!

Next week: A cover from the Awesome Aughts: the 2000s!

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