Saturday, September 15, 2012

An Uncanny Homage!

The cover by Jim Steranko for X-Men #49 is truly one of the stunning images of the Silver Age of comics. Steranko's presence on the series was momentary, but left a deep impression on fans who were there to witness it. I was one of those fans, and Steranko's offbeat rendition of the "Merry Mutants" was dramatic and oddly attractive. Werner Roth and Don Heck had been giving the team reliable service for many years. The series had seen talents like Ross Andru and George Tuska and Dan Adkins drop by after the initial burst of issues by Jack "King" Kirby. But it was mostly rather workmanlike if quite decent by and large, until Steranko busted out with his version. Neal Adams came aboard soon thereafter to give the team a final burst before the ultimate flameout of the series.

Here's the original to Steranko's groundbreaking superhero image, a Dali-esque nightmare vision. I can't recollect how many times as a kid I traced the Angel figure, at once awkward and compelling.

The art looks perhaps even more dramatic with a black background as seen on this Masterworks cover.

But what really caught my eye recently and got me to thinking anew about this classic Steranko image was this homage/swipe by Jean Frisano for the French comic Strange. He does a valiant job of capturing at once the weirdness of the original Steranko art and adds if anything even more kinetic activity to it. Steranko for all his elegant design work could draw somewhat static figures, here that seems to have been solved.

Frisano even went a step further on a later Strange cover and created an original cover done in a distinctively Steranko style. It's almost akin to finding an unknown Steranko featuring classic Marvel characters.

My compulsion to be complete requires the addition of Steranko's other two X-Men covers from issues #50 and #51. Steranko only drew a few issues, but what issues they were.

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