What’s More Lost? Atlantis or the Importance of Comic Book Covers?

In today’s Marvel Review, Comic Book Herald takes a look at a few pressing issues. Is Matt Cherniss’s six issue Sub-Mariner run worth your dollars? Is it at least relevant to the Civil War continuity it follows? What happens when you mix the Thunderbolt’s Venom with Namor’s little footie wings? And most importantly: What’s going to happen to cover art in a digital age? 

Venom gonna eat a Namor Face
Venom bout to eat a damn face


Comic Book Run: Sub-Mariner (#1-6)

Publication Dates: June 2007–Nov 2007

Writer: Matt Cherniss   Artist: Philippe Briones

 CBH Score: 7.6

Continuity Relevance?: Yes, major.

Who Needs It?: Fans of alternate Marvel civilizations. Women who like a foreign man in a speedo. Readers who always felt Venom was a bit long in the tongue.


 Namor vs. Venom – Body Parts Will Be Removed

I initially started my recap of this with a look at Namor’s underutilized role in the Marvel Universe, but there’s a better time and place to really dive into (Water puns, better to just get used to them now. You’ll be drowning in them by the end of the post) whether or not Namor’s underrated, overrated, or properly rated. The Atlantean King has gotten some high quality love as a member of Brian Michael Bendis’ Illuminati, so I’ll splash through his place in another review.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, though, the facet of this Sub-Mariner run I find most interesting has to do with a particular cover. The storyline itself is a compelling look at how Namor is forced to deal with a post-Civil War America and Tony Stark led S.H.I.E.L.D. Writer Matt Cherniss doesn’t nail the opportunity to explore the Atlantean civilization with nearly as much depth or skill as Paul Jenkins’ run on Inhumans, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Sub-Mariner isn’t about culture and Atlantis so much as it is about their King in a time of crisis. And Cherniss, paints a portrait of one bad-ass king.

It’s in the process of restoring order to his kingdom (a process we see Namor stop at nothing to achieve), that everyone’s favorite Thunderbolt, Venom, is assigned to bring in Namor. I’m not sure this particular fight has ever happened in Marvel Comics history. Either way it’s a heavy weight showdown that changes both characters for the foreseeable future.

And at the center of this knockdown dragout, there’s a comic book cover that I want to hang on my wall.

 Comic Book Covers in the Digital Era

The cover I included above comes from issue #4 of Sub-Mariner. The cover is wonderful for a number of reasons. There’s the attention to detail, with Venom – in his full, hulking, post-Brock glory – wrapping his preposterously long tongue around Namor’s neck. There’s the white background allowing the focus solely on the main powerhouses going at it. And there’s the timing of it all, coming fresh off the heels (inside joke pun!) of Venom’s issue #3 torture and beatdown of Namor.

Here’s my point: Having read issue #3, the cover to #4 makes you want to buy the comic. It makes me want to pick that up in a comic book shop and start flipping through the pages.

I think with Digital Comics, readers everywhere are going to put less and less importance on this component.

Personally, I read a ton of my comics online, through Marvel’s digital subscription. When I open the flash-based app, I don’t need to pause and really look at the cover. I can just click ahead to consume the content.

There’s nothing really wrong with this. I like consuming stories. That’s what I come to Marvel for in the first place.

But digital comic covers will never be able to compete with the sensation of being in a comic shop, looking up and seeing Venom about to eat the Sub-Mariner alive.

Again, I don’t think I’m really sad about this. I’m a huge fan of digital comics and I think all comic retailers need to be more infinitely more progressive with their offerings.

Speaking of progressive… if Cover Art has a substantially greater chance of being ignored in a digital format, what changes can be made? I’m glad you asked.

The Potential Within Digitial Comic Covers

Here are some quick ideas, off the top of my head:

  1. Clickable items within the digital version of the cover. For example, in issue #4 of Sub-Mariner, make Venom clickable and take me to a profile of his current status in the Marvel Universe. Maybe all this reader knows about him stems from the 90’s Spidey TV cartoon? Increased knowledge of the comic book universe is never a bad thing.
  2. For the artists out there, why not offer a quick, one-click feature that allows the pencilled, naked version of the cover art? If you think artists aren’t interested in a little more of Marko Djurdjevic’s process, you’re nuts.
  3. ANYTHING interactive. You can probably see what I’m getting at by now, but anything that allows readers to color, click, create… it all adds to the cover’s value in the digital age.
At the end of the day, the moral here is covers don’t have to die with digital comics. But some sort of adaptation needs to take place, or we’ll begin missing out on stuff like Sub-Mariner #4. 

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