Welcome to the maiden voyage of the "Worst Cover Ever" feature. In my years of collecting comics, and researching new columns, I've come across some great comic book covers...and some not so great comic book covers. Of those not-so-great covers, there are some that definitely qualify for "Worst Cover Ever" status. What defines a Worst Cover Ever? Sometimes it's an idiotic, bizarre, or even disturbing theme (which can sometimes...and paradoxically...make it a great cover), sometimes it's simply poor drawing & layout...sometimes it's both. Obviously, it's a highly subjective kind of thing...so take it for what it's worth. Okay, back to business. The inagural Worst Cover Ever is Action Comics #455 (1976):
If the terminally dull layout hasn't already caused you to nod off, pour yourself a cup of coffee and stick with me.
1. The background: More accurately, the complete absence of a background. Granted, lots of background detail isn't essential for a dramatic cover, but in this case, some would have helped. The flat gray and pale blue color fields give no sense of place, scale or spacial relationships.
2. "Junkman": Besides being one of the worst-designed characters I've ever seen, Junkman is also so awkwardly posed, it's not entirely clear what he's doing, or what his intent is. Is his foot recoiling from Superman's exploding midsection...or is he mercilessly stomping Superman's groin? Most likely the latter, but not as clear as it could have been.
3. Superman: One of the few bright spots of the cover, obviously drawn by Bob Oksner. Shockingly, the entire cover is credited to Bob, but knowing what I know about his skills as an illustrator, I find it hard to believe. But, everyone can have an off day, and maybe this was one of his.
4. Logos: Could there be more confusion on the use of logos on this cover? We've got the large Action Comics behind Junkman (with enough space above it to fly a 747 through), a tiny Superman logo sloppily intersecting with it, and yet another Action Comics logo stuck into the masthead.
5. Green Arrow and the Atom: Wow. Some horrible positioning here. It's not entirely clear if they're even aware of the stomp-assault on Superman's groin, since no word balloons or facial expressions convey any sense of urgency or alarm. True, Ollie's got his bow drawn, but it seems to be pointed more toward the reader than Junkman...while the Atom appears to be...flying??? (as the tiny drop shadow indicates).
6. The coloring: The muted, low-contrast color pallette was an unfortunate hallmark of mid-70's DC Comics covers, and this issue was no exception. The pale gray, blue and yellow combined with Junkman's mishmash of drab secondary colors (orange, green and purple) provide zero impact and excitement. From top to bottom, this cover strikes out...which is probably why I haven't gotten around to buying it for my Action Comics collection, despite having had a few opportunities to do so. I'm not sure if I'd even be willing to pay the 25¢ cover price, much less the $3 to $5 a dealer would charge for this dog.
Well, that wraps up this week's Worst Cover Ever. I'm open to suggestions for future candidates, so drop me a line (or leave a comment) if you've got a contender.