I got quite a bit of feedback in comments, on Instagram and on Facebook for Part One of the Alex Ross Timeless Covers rankings. The first piece looked at the bottom half of the recently released 32 covers, while here we will look at the top half.
Most of the comments were some iteration of “you’re being too hard on them,” or “don’t you know they were part of a mural that shows a much larger picture,” or “that specific one should not be in the bottom half,” or “Idiot.” Something like that.
And those folks may all have been right. That’s the nature of ranking 32 things. By definition, 16 of them have to be in the bottom half. All of those previous covers are great – this exercise is like ranking the top 32 ice cream flavors. All good, some better than others.
What Are Your Alex Ross Timeless Covers Rankings?
I do encourage anyone who has different opinions to put your top ten in the comments or maybe your top 20 or just your top five. I like knowing WHY you disagree with me on some of these, not just that you do disagree.
Without further ado, here are the top 16 Alex Ross Timeless Covers.
Improvements: Alex Ross Timeless Covers 14-16
16. Iceman – I’m clearly no artist (or art critic or even art viewer, if some of the comments from Part 1 are to be believed), but it must be hard to draw a human made of snow and ice. I am a big fan of Iceman and have even written before about how I wished Marvel used him more. In this specific cover, I give the face a 9/10 for what looks like a snow/ice combination and the body a 3/10. But again, grade it on a curve because there’s just not much that can be done.
15. Spider-Woman – Thank god Ross went with the Spider-Woman #1 version of the character and not the Marvel Spotlight #32 version, which would have immediately sent her to the bottom with that ridiculous cowl she wore upon her debut. I’m really a fan of how menacing she looks and wish Ross had gone with the white eye pieces for Spidey instead of the reflective eyewear he landed on.
14. Ghost Rider – In my first piece, I talked about how I was disappointed in the cartoonish nature of Human Torch. But on this second flame attempt with Ghost Rider, Ross absolutely smashes it. The realism of the skull on fire combined with an obvious note that he is sitting on his motorcycle; this one impressed me.
Alright, I Fold: Alex Ross Timeless Covers 11-13
13. She-Hulk – I received a fair amount of feedback from the first part of this piece wondering why I was so concerned about how many had their arms folded on the cover. It’s true that if you look at each one individually it’s not a huge deal. It’s only when you compare all 32 next to one another that you start to see just how many are in identical poses.
She-Hulk looks to me like you ripped her right off the cover of She Hulk #1 and placed her here. It’s the right combination of strength and poise, plus extra points for how much the color pops on this one.
12. Iron Man – The “up the nostrils” pose for Iron Man really works for this one. The pose plus the fact that Ross really does well with the metallic armor here gives us a sense of an old-school costume combined with the MCU agility and flexibility.
11. Sub-Mariner – As one of only two covers where the hero shows up sans-costume (Shang Chi being the other), Ross really got the muscular human form right here – perhaps even more so than with the Master of Kung Fu. I think the strong symmetry and the angles Namor gives us in his hair, ears, and eye brows really gets my ocean waters churning.
Things Are Looking Up: Alex Ross Covers 8-10
10. Storm – These next three form a triumvirate of the traditional superhero pose. Standing with hands on hips, looking stoically into the distance. Bonus points for the magnificent white hair which is mirrored by the glassiness in her eyes. We know when this happens, Storm is up to something.
9. Captain America – These next two are about as timeless as timeless can get. They embody and, by necessity, must be posing in the traditional superhero pose. Cap only falls behind Thor because he is looking little pasty on this cover, like he needs to take the cowl off and get a day in the sun every once in a while. The detail on the chest of his uniform is impeccable.
8. Thor – Oh, those flowing golden locks. Just the slightest shade of blue in his eyes. That square jaw. And I was actually convinced those wings on his helmet were silver. This entry was not written by my wife. Sadly.
Timeless: Alex Ross Covers 5-7
7. Hulk – Literally the only knock I have on this one is that could easily be the duplicate image of Immortal Hulk #18. In terms of available real estate, Hulk takes up more room on the cover than any other except maybe Thor. This simple decision does an excellent job of conveying how Hulk is a larger than life character, and not your run-of-the-mill superhero-sized human.
6. Black Panther – The genius in this cover is how much Ross does with such a monochromatic character/suit. On a comic book cover you have so much more action and color to play with, but this simple contrast of black on white is gorgeous.
5. Daredevil – My favorite all-time character, but even my blatant bias only gets him to the edge of glory here. Look at each of these covers individually and tell me Daredevil doesn’t look the most bad-ass of the whole lot.
A lot of credit should be given to the original designers and artists of Daredevil who gave him the red eyes with the red costume. His suit in this picture also looks like it is actually shining. The beautiful horns are just the icing on the cake.
The Elite: Alex Ross Covers 1-4
4. Nightcrawler – While these last four might not be the most “timeless” of characters – you’ll only find one here that is pre-Bronze Age – the way that they are conceived and executed on the covers are close to flawless.
Tell me if you agree with me on Nightcrawler. Those eyes look like they are actually glowing. It’s such a stark contrast compared to the dark skin and costume and sells the menacing nature of the character. I also love that his pose is so active and makes it look like he is milliseconds away from “bamf”-ing his way right off of that cover.
3. Shang Chi – As you know by now, I am a fan of the “action” covers more so than the “posed subject” covers. Perhaps Ross went a smidge overboard with the muscles of Shang chi, but every time I look at it, I have flashbacks to Enter the Dragon or Fist of Fury with Bruce Lee. The resemblance is stunning.
2. Silver Surfer – What a brilliant move to have the reflection of Silver Surfer show up on the board. Compared to fellow silver-skinned Colossus, this one stands out in terms of life-likeness and detail. It’s simply stunning.
1. Phoenix – The Winner. Probably not the one you expected, so let me explain.
First, the blowing, bright red hair calls back expertly to X-Men #101 when we are introduced to the character. On several of the females, we see hair at rest, so I am a big fan of the wind-blown look. Plus, the red hair covering one eye, which might be a reference to the fire eyes when we first meet Phoenix.
Second, the green in her eyes matching the green in the costume. Third, the placement of the Phoenix symbol by having it stand out from the shadows on her uniform is brilliant.
And lastly, that expression. It’s so well done and borders right on the line between heroic and mischievous – just like the Phoenix we know and love. This one defines timeless to me.
Bring Your Alex Ross Timeless Covers Rankings!
That’s my list. What’s yours? Where am I right, where am I crazy? Let me know in the comments below!