10 Terrible Comic Book Covers Marvel Wants You To Forget

Comic books have been an important media for almost a century, but not every comic book ever made has been unforgettable for the right reasons. There are plenty of books out there that introduced a new character or crossed a line in an innovative or creative way, but for every stellar example, there are thousands of terrible ones sitting in boxes somewhere collecting dust.

Not every book can be worthwhile, but there are some that take the cake as being unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. When it comes to bad books, it’s not always about the artwork or the story – many times, it’s all about the cover.

Comics book covers are what draw in a reader, and a comic book cover can often be the most memorable part of an entire book. When people think of Amazing Fantasy #15, they don’t consider the stories inside, they mostly focus on that iconic front page depicting Spider-Man Swinging through New York clutching a bad guy.

Covers have a lasting impression on fans, which is why some of the worst covers Marvel has done are ones they wish everyone would forget.

10. X-Statix #15

X-Static was the retitled book originally known as X-Force. It fell into the hands of Peter Milligan and Michael Allred as a somewhat less-than-serious look at some of Marvel’s stranger superheroes. The book quickly became a way to satirize the celebrity culture running rampant across the planet while still taking the time to pull apart the superhero genre.

For the most part, it worked out rather well. Fans who knew what they were getting into appreciated the social commentary while not taking the material too seriously. The whole thing got a little off the rails when, in 2003, the book relaunched with a resurrected mutant-version of Princess Dianna who had passed only six years previously.

Not only did the cover feature Princess Di in a rather inappropriate pose on the cover, but the story was also titled, “Di Another Day,” which really didn’t go over well with people who were still mourning the loss of Diana.

In one way, it was nice of Marvel to pay homage to the deceased Princess, while in another way, it was a crass misrepresentation of a recently-deceased public figure many people around the world still mourned and adored. The cover caused controversy and was reprinted with another character design.

9. Daredevil #168

Mistakes aren’t common in comic books, but they do happen. At the end of the day, the people working on them are, well, people. They make mistakes just like everyone else, but usually, those are relegated to an incorrect coloring, the accidental repetition repetition of a word, or forgetting to draw a part of the costume.

While those mistakes can happen, they tend to be somewhere within a comic book and not smack dab on the cover. Cover mistakes are much easier to notice and they tend to remain in the fans’ collective memories for a long period of time.

Take, for example, Daredevil #168. The cover art by Frank Miller is spectacular as always. There is a lot going on in the image, which showcases Elektra and Daredevil amidst some lightning. With such evocative imagery, you might be asking what is wrong with the cover… take a closer look and it will become all too apparent.

They misspelled the name “Elektra,” which is bad enough, but worse than a simple misspelling, it was her first appearance. It isn’t misspelled anywhere within the book, just on the cover. Seeing as it was her first appearance, this seems like one of those covers Marvel would want to be forgotten.

8. The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #125

Star Wars is one of the most financially successful franchises in the history of film, which is why it should come as no surprise that it has been ported over into the world of comics. Marvel published a number of comics under the Star Wars header pretty much as soon as the first movie came out, which is why they hopped on The Empire Strikes Back when that movie was released.

The comics supplemented or retold the stories told in the movies and have become classics in and of themselves, but not every one is a winner. The one most fans recall as not being even remotely adequate has got to be The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #125.

By the time this book was published in 1980, everyone in the world knew what the characters from the movies looked like… except for the artist who knocked out this cover.

Strangely, Carmine Infantino’s work on Star Wars comics looked like the characters from the movies, but not this title. It’s obvious who they are, but Chewie doesn’t look much like Chewie and there isn’t a person on the planet who would say this looked like Carrie Fisher or Harrison Ford.

7. Silver Surfer #50

Comic book cover gimmicks and the nineties went together like peas and carrots, but they didn’t always look terrible. When they worked, they looked rather impressive and added a little something to a cover that would otherwise have been somewhat dull.

In those rare instances when a cover worked well with something like a foil emboss, it was incredibly important that nothing went wrong in the printing or embossing process or people would notice in all the wrong ways.

That’s exactly what happened with Silver Surfer #50. When it was done well, the foil embossed over the title letters as well as the Surfer himself. Showing the Silver Surfer in reflective silver foil was innovative for the time and looked great. Sadly, it didn’t always work.

There are hundreds of examples of this book making it to store shelves with messed-up foil. This would often involve a book with no foil at all, the foil patched on in places it shouldn’t be, or most often, with the foil not set on the image in the way it was supposed to be. This book’s problems were more about quality control than anything, but it stands as an example of how things can go wrong on a cover.

6. Wolverine Revolver #1

When an artist is given the honor of illustrating the cover for a comic book, there are a few important aspects of the character that need to remain without much alteration.

While some may alter a costume or throw a little extra facial hair onto a guy’s face, it’s incredibly important that the character on the cover looks like the intended character within the comic.

Folks like Wolverine have been around for decades with pretty much the same look. When that look is altered, the fans tend to unite in protest, but none so vehemently as with the release of Wolverine Revolver.

The best way to describe Julio Das Pastoras’ work on the cover is ugly. The costume is correct, but drawn strangely with a grotesque focus on the mouth and asymmetric muscle definition. The look on Logan’s face is distorted and strange, which is why this cover is often considered to be the least appealing to look at across all of Marvel’s publishing history.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man #400

There are cases when a gimmick cover works well, but there are plenty more where it fails completely. The Amazing Spider-Man #400 is an example of the latter thanks to a poorly executed embossed cover depicting a tombstone.

The purpose of the tombstone is clear: someone is dead in this issue and it’s an important death in regards to Spider-Man. The only problem – you can’t see the image or the title on the cover.

It’s fairly important to be able to read the cover of a book without having to pick it up and flip through the pages. Because the emboss covered the drawing (right side of the picture), it wasn’t immediately clear what was sitting on the shelf.

There aren’t many collectors who slab ASM #400 so they can display it proudly. The cover looks terrible, which is a shame seeing as it obscures some beautiful artwork by Mark Bagley. Fortunately, this was a variant cover, but it remains as a poor example of cover embossing.

4. Peter Parker Spider-Man #55

Spider-Man is one of those characters who has always been something of a contortionist. His agility and ability to balance on his pinkie finger make it possible for him to contort in numerous ways, but he always does so to the limits of human anatomy.

Unfortunately, Francisco Herrera clearly didn’t get that note when he sat down to draw the cover of Peter Parker: Spider-Man #55.

While the inside pages of the book feature Spider-Man in his usual, human anatomical form, the cover depicts the superhero in an odd, overemphasized manner that suggests he doesn’t possess any proper bones.

The cover image wouldn’t be as bad as it is were it not for the complete lack of anything else to look at. The focus is purposefully drawn directly onto a Spider-Man who looks unnatural and contorted in horrific ways. Fortunately, the contents of the book are top-notch, but that doesn’t change the fact that Herrera drew the main character in the weirdest way possible.

3. Fantastic Four #375

There was a dark time when gimmicky covers were all the rage: the 1990s. That decade stretched the limits of imagination relating to what a publisher could do to get someone to buy a book. Competition was high, which meant that all manner of holograms, polybags, foil-embossing, and reflective techniques were employed to attract customers.

This gimmick amounted to higher cover prices, a need to purchase multiple copies, and less focus on what mattered, which was the art and story. Instead, the focus was on attracting attention with the worst example of them all being Fantastic Four #375.

This book isn’t remembered for the story, the artwork, or anything else important. It is best known for having the worst prismatic cover ever put to print on a comic book cover.

This thing was so reflective, it was actually difficult to look at. This took shiny foil to a whole new level with an abandonment of what really matters in comic book storytelling and going crazy with reflective material. It had the effect of making people not want to buy it, which couldn’t have been the impact the publisher was looking for at the time.

2. Captain America #2

Rob Liefeld is one of those comic book artists who gets a lot of flack for his unique style of drawing. While there are dozens of lists and articles online discussing his worst covers (there are a ton to choose from), he did give the world Deadpool, Domino, Cable, and many other characters we all know and love.

That being said, he really has a hard time drawing characters in any way that looks remotely human. Steve Rogers is drawn to the limits of human anatomy with his feet obscured (Liefeld can’t draw feet), but that’s not the worst part of this image.

That disembodied face near Rogers’ left thigh is paired with an arm that’s just placed incongruously and with no explanation.

With those two elements, this cover is just weird and unsettling. You have to read the book to understand what that face and arm are doing there, but few would feel comfortable picking up this issue after seeing a no-necked Captain America looking mad as hell with a woman’s face three inches from his junk.

1. Spider-Woman #1

The most infamous comic book cover to land on this list is also the most recent. Fortunately, it was a variant cover, which means it didn’t land everywhere when Spider-Woman #1 went to print, but that doesn’t mean people didn’t stand up and take notice.

As more and more artists divest from sexist art-styles, Milo Manara illustrated a cover for a comic book that seemingly disregarded that notion altogether. Marvel published this book and almost immediately took flak over the way Spider-Woman was depicted on the cover.

The image was about as over-objectified as it could be and the world took notice. The story revolving around the cover was picked up internationally by Time and many other outlets, but even with word of the cover going out prior to its release, Marvel went ahead and released it anyway, but with one minor change: they moved the title to cover the most offensive part of the image.

Needless to say, Spider-Woman received a redesign just a year later curtesy of Kris Anka – no doubt spurred on by the controversy Manara’s cover stoked.

Please wait...

And Now... A Few Links From Our Sponsors