I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got seven new comics:

  • Bloodshot −13
  • Clone – 9
  • Dark Horse Presents – 26
  • Harbinger – 14

  • Mind MGMT – 13
  • The Massive – 14
  • Lazarus – 2
  • This week’s comic book cover to look at and examine is “Nick Fury and His Agents of SHIELD” #2 by Jim Steranko. A comic I got this very week. It’s from 1972 and is falling apart but I like the cover. I think it’s a cover I’ve seen before but I’m not positive. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read this comic but I may have this cover reprinted in one of the Jim Steranko collections that are on my shelf. Here he doesn’t do the interior art though. Just the cover.

    I’d say that Steranko is more known for his graphic design approach to drawing comics than his rendering skills. That means that there may be some awkward parts in his bodies but they will be stylish. I think this one is one of his better drawn covers (not that he has any badly drawn ones that I know of). There is no awkwardness to be found here.

    There are three main elements to this cover. The flag, the lighting, and Nick Fury’s pose. There isn’t much of a story to this cover besides Fury and his agents beating back the flames to protect the USA but that’s all you need. Japar Johns’ painting of the American flag from the mid-1950s popularized the flag’s use as a design element and that has continued to this day. The stars and stripes are used by Steranko not only as part of the story but as part of the composition and design. It creates a backdrop for Fury and allows him to stand apart form a blank background.

    Nick Fury’s fighting pose is probably the most striking part of this cover. It’s not a realistic pose but a stylish one. Fury is lifting one arm as if in the middle of a movement which not only adds action to the figure but makes the figure look long, powerful, and lean. All the other characters on the cover have their own individual poses but Fury’s is the most dramatic. He is clearly the star.

    The final part of this cover that catches my eye is the lighting. The background figures have flat lighting on them but Fury is lit by the flames. The edges of Fury’s figure are colored yellow to represent the light of the fire. When something has a strong highlight on its edge that’s called rim-lighting and that’s what’s going on here. I’m not always a fan of rim lighting because it’s done wrong so often but here it’s done right. Usually rim lighting is done wrong by ignoring the light source. A colorist will just put a highlight along the whole left side of someone even if there is no way a light source could make a highlight that big. Here Fury’s highlight stops at his elbow on one arm and his wrist on the other. Plus it’s on both sides of his leg as if he’s standing in the flames. That all makes sense. I like that. The highlights weren’t put in the other figures but that’s okay. Steranko was going for symbolism over realism. They’re all there to support Fury. Fury is the star/hero. Good stuff.

    One last thing. You won’t see this many belts, buckles, and pouches on super heroes until the 1990’s. Maybe this is what inspired all those artists twenty years later.