Thursday, June 12, 2008

Iwo Jima Covers

The flag raising on Iwo Jima is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. It has been the focus of books, movies and yes, even some funnybook covers. As far as I can tell, there aren't that many Iwo Jima covers but I am certain that I've missed some. Here are a few good examples.

I'll start with the newest. While reading a copy of The Spirit and I noticed a house ad for a Countdown #37. I haven't the foggiest idea what Countdown is all about, but this image made me think of another Iwo Jima cover and before I knew it, I had a whole new cover theme. This one is ok, but it suffers from much of the blandness that haunts many modern covers. I can recognize GL and the Atom (although I'm sure that neither Hal Jordan nor Ray Palmer) and I'm guess that's Donna Troy. Not sure about the dude in the pleather jacket - Ultimate Snapper Carr? Anyhow - this cover is lame (the background colouring is really unappealing) but it serves as proof of the enduring appeal of the Iwo Jima cover.

Let's cleanse the palate with this lovely cover to Speed Comics #38, which was published mere months after the flag raising. This is the earliest example of a flag waving cover that I could find. The GCD indicates that it might be Bob Powell artwork but it's a bit tough to say for sure without seeing the faces of Black Cat, Captain Freedom or Shock Gibson. Based on the figures in the background, I'd be tempted to say it was Al Avison. Rudy Palais was doing a bunch of Speed covers at the time, but he was signing them. It is just a gorgeous cover - the figures are wonderfully posed and really convey a sense of motion.

It is no surprise that an Iwo Jima cover would pop up in a war title. What I do find a bit surprising is that more companies and artists didn't take advantage of the pose (I can only think of 2 others). Charlton rarely passed on any opportunity and chose the image to help make Fightin' Marines #26 fly off the stands. The image was already more than a dozen years old by the time this was published and had likely achieved full 'icon' status. This is one of those 100 pagers that you rarely see for sale. The Rocke/Alascia cover is quite good, but the impact is certainly lessened by the panel down the left hand side.

My final selection is an Iwo Jima cover with a twist. Mike Kaluta's cover to Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #2 is simply stunning. If I recall correctly from the magazine's editor's column, the cover may have come first and inspired the War Toy story. I may be wrong, and perhaps someone who has read it more recently can correct me. There are two things I love about this cover. The first is that we don't know where the flag is being raised, only that it's not Earth and not Saturn. The second detail I really dig is the stars on the flag. Just how many countries has the U.S. turned into states by this point? 70s Black and white magazines really allowed artists to let their freak flags fly, and Kaluta did it quite literally.

1 comment:

Eric said...

In the Countdown cover, the Atom is actually Ray Palmer, the Green Lantern is Kyle Rayner and the guy is the leather jacket is Jason Todd.