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Superman: Cover to Cover

June 7, 2006

Quick Rating: Great

Over 270 of the most memorable Superman covers of all time!

Art: Alex Ross, Ed McGuinness, Matt Wagner, Neal Adams, Curt Swan, Joe Schuster, Walt Simonson, Leinil Francis Yu, Jim Lee, John Byrne and hundreds of the greatest Superman artists of all time
Commentary: Grant Morrison, Jeph Loeb, Mark Verheiden, Mark Waid, Elliot S! Maggin, Murphy Anderson, Al Plastino, Jim Mooney, Nick Cardy, Bryan Singer, Richard Donner, Jack Larson, Erica Durance and more
Collected Edition Editor: Robert Greenberger
Senior Art Director: Robbin Brosterman
Publisher: DC Comics

The follow-up to last year’s popular Batman: Cover to Cover, this handsome hardcover volume collects over 270 of the most memorable covers featuring Superman since the character’s first appearance back in Action Comics #1. Note that I say here “most memorable,” not “best” – while a great many of the covers included here are magnificent works of art (Alex Ross’s work on Superman: Peace on Earth and Kingdom Come #4, for example), many others aren’t quite as powerful from a purely aesthetic sense, but still deserve a place for honor for what they represent. Several covers from the Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane series are included to demonstrate how a bizarre cover, such as Superman standing by the graves of Lois, Lana Lang and Lori Lemaris, would entice a reader to grab the issue.

The book is divided up into several segments, each showcasing a different aspect of the man of steel – one section focuses on his relationship with Lois, another on the members of his extended family, one on Metropolis and one on Krypton, a section of patriotic covers and a section devoted entirely to his team-ups with other superheroes. The book is divided into over 20 such categories, and looking at the list it’s hard to think of any aspect of the character that isn’t covered somewhere.

In addition to the sections focusing on the different aspects of Superman, several times some of the writers, artists and other people most associated with Superman take a page to present their personal favorite Superman cover, and those covers are usually placed in the category they most belong. Classic artist Nick Cardy, for example, chooses his cover to Justice League of America #102, where Superman stands on a hilltop and announces that one of the assembled members of the Justice League and Justice Society must die to save the world. This powerful cover is, appropriately, placed in the “World’s Finest” chapter, which includes Superman’s great team-ups. Brandon Routh, who plays Clark and Superman in the upcoming Superman Returns film, chooses the simple but elegant Ron Frenz cover to Superman Vol. 2 #120 – a classic image of Superman bursting through chains with the entire cover colored green except for the S-shield. This is included in a section of covers selected for their clever and innovative graphic design qualities.

By the very nature of this project, not everyone will agree with the final covers selected. Everybody will have their own favorite covers that may not be included, and they’ll come across a few they may think less than deserving of inclusion – but the art by its very nature is selective. Most readers will be hard-pressed to argue this isn’t, overall, a very entertaining collection of iconic and eye-popping Superman images. This is a book that every Superman fan needs to have on his coffee table.

Rating: 9/10

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