This installment of Standard Deviations takes us back to the Spring of 2009 as Marvel Comics produced a set of “Art Appreciation” variants as part of their celebration of Wolverine’s 35th anniversary. The books also coincided with the release of Fox’s Wolverine: Origins in theaters around the world on May 1st of that year. With another movie featuring Marvel characters debuting next week, the publisher has opted to do a follow up set of Avengers Art Appreciation variants throughout April of this year. This post is part of a Standard Deviations double feature today as we look at both entries in Art Appreciation collection.
The angle for these Art Appreciation variants sees the creators paying homage to a classical art style or a particular classical artist’s style using Wolverine as the central figure. The result is a set of images that are anything but typical fare for modern comic book covers. Some work better than others and even though I’m not the biggest Wolverine fan (even though I follow the X-Men very closely), I think this is a fun theme to apply to one of Marvel’s most recognizable heroes.
Without question, my favorite of this set is Chris Eliopoulos’ cover for Wolverine: First Class #14. Eliopoulos has had a long career as a letterer, but his work on the humor series, Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius, is what saw him included in this set of variants. Eliopoulos channels the style of the Sunday comics strips Peanuts, Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes to great effect for his cover, and he captures the essences of Charles Schulz, Jim Davis and Bill Watterson’s work perfectly for his Wolverine and Kitty(ies). Plus it’s on the cover of an actual Wolverine title (as opposed to Moon Knight, for example) which puts it over the top. I fully realize this opinion says everything there is to say about my appreciation of art history.
Coming in as a close second and third to my eye is Paolo Rivera’s Dali-inspired image for Amazing Spider-Man #592 and Ed McGuinness’ cave painting of Wolverine versus a sabertooth on the cover of Hulk #11. Although, as I alluded to earlier, having a Spider-Man logo floating above a truly amazing surrealist take on Wolverine takes something away from the finished piece. Any of these images would make a great addition to anyone’s collection and I made it a point to add Laura Martin’s “Van Gogh” edition of Uncanny X-Men #508 and Morry Hallowell’s Miller/Warhol version X-Men: Legacy #223 to my own.
These covers shipped as 1:10 variants for their respective titles and even though they weren’t necessarily scarce, they weren’t something I was seeing on shelves at the time. For the few books I sought out, prices were typically around $10 and below. Most of these variants are still readily available from online retailers (Midtown Comics has many of them currently listed as in stock) and the price points haven’t moved much. If you dig hard enough you can even find listings for these books closer to or even below cover price (for example on Comic Collector Live).
As a fan of the art featured on these covers and not being particularly interested in collecting the books, I was thrilled when these images were released as a collected volume at the end of 2009 in the Wolverine Art Appreciation One-Shot. This was one of the first sets of Marvel variants collected in a comic sized volume and it’s a tradition that has continued with many of the sets with themes connected to Marvel’s film line. It’s a great and affordable way to truly appreciate some great art and that’s what these posts are really all about.
Wolverine Art Appreciation variants released in April 2009:
- Agents of Atlas #3 by Gerald Parel in the style of Edvard Munch
- Amazing Spider-Man #590 by Paolo Rivera in the style of C.M. Coolidge
- Amazing Spider-Man #592 by Paolo Rivera in the style of Salvador Dali
- Captain Britain and MI: 13 #12 by Skottie Young in the style of Edward Gorey
- Daredevil #118 by Russ Heath in the style of Roy Lichenstein
- Exiles #1 by Jason Chan in the style of Rene Magritte
- Ghost Rider #34 by Alina Urusov in the style of Japanese woodblock
- Hulk #11 by Ed McGuinness in the style of a cave painting
- Incredible Hercules #128 by David Williams in the style of Jack Kirby
- Moon Knight #29 by Juan Doe in the style of Pablo Picasso
- Ms. Marvel #38 by Paolo Rivera 4/29/09 in the style of Wyeth
- Runaways #9 by David Lafuente in the style of Alphonse Mucha
- Secret Warriors #3 by Gerald Parel in the style of Gustav Klimt
- Uncanny X-Men #508 by Laura Martin in the style of Vincent Van Gogh
- War Machine #5 by Fiona Staples in the style of John Singer Sargent
- Wolverine: First Class #14 by Chris Eliopoulos in the style of the Sunday comics
- X-Men: Legacy #223 by Morry Hallowell in the style of Andy Warhol using Frank Miller art
Be sure to check out an analogous set of “Avengers Art Appreciation” variants published throughout April 2012 to coincide with the premiere of Marvel’s The Avengers (Avengers Assemble) on May 4th.
Read more entries from the Standard Deviations series on MyLatestDistraction.