To that end, I want to look at a recent Marvel Comics trade paperback cover. I should note that I used to be a freelance employee of the collections office during the eight years I worked on the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and other projects (2004-2012). Consequently, I know a few of the people who put this collection together, particularly the researcher/layout designer Jeph York, who was also a member of the OHOTMU team. But I really have to say something about the cover to Wolverine Epic Collection V.13: Blood Debt.
Blood Debt is a real hodgepodge of material. It reprints Wolverine's 1999 Annual, Wolverine#150-158 and the entire mini-series Origin#1-6. The book is titled after the story 'Blood Debt' which ran through issues #150-153 and was written & drawn by Steve Skroce. Skroce, strangely, never became a big name in the comics industry, even though he was the guy who storyboarded the film The Matrix, which you'd think would have parlayed him to the top tier; it was enough to get him his own Wolverine story, but he's mostly worked in movies. When he drew the mini-series We Stand on Guard for Image a couple of years ago, it was his first monthly comics work in a decade. Skroce was always considered a talented guy and there was precious little of his work in print. So as the collection is titled 'Blood Debt' you'd think the cover would be a beautiful Steve Skroce image, right?
That's right; you're wrong.
See, after Skroce, Wolverine was very briefly taken over by Rob Liefeld, who only managed to squeeze out two issues of art (and two more on plot) before leaving. There's no shortage of Liefeld in the world - even though he has burned many bridges in his career, the industry keeps asking him to come back. Why then, with so much Liefeld already out there, would you turn to him instead of Skroce? Or, for that matter, Joe Quesada & Andy Kubert, who drew the Origin series also included in this volume?
Deadpool, obviously. Yeah, that's Deadpool on the cover, and that's the only reason I can think of that the collections department chose this reprinted cover for the front honours. But it's not even a good image of Deadpool - it isn't full-body, he's pushed off-centre, and even though Liefeld is Deadpool's creator, it doesn't look especially on-model. It was already a bad cover, but I suppose the hope was that Deadpool's presence would shift a few more copies than Skroce, Quesada or Kubert would. And perhaps the collections department is right. From a marketing standpoint, maybe this was the right call... but from a philosophical and logical standpoint, it makes no sense. It's a bad image of Deadpool and it does not reflect anything about the title of this trade. It's disappointing.