Artist Darwyn Cooke's variant covers are the best version of DC Comics

They're only variant covers, but Darwyn Cooke just gave us a peek into the DC Universe we deserve.

You might best know Cooke for his comic adaptations of Richard Stark's Parker novels, or for his superhero work on books like DC: The New Frontier or The Spirit, or you might just know him for the beautiful covers he's drawn for everything from All-Star Western to iZombie to Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen. Since 2005, his work as a writer, artist, letterer and designer has earned him a whopping 12 Eisner Awards, including at least one in every year since 2010, and he's become a fan favorite in part because of his bold retro style reminiscent of the DC Animated Universe (he worked as a storyboard artist for both the Batman and Superman animated series and animated Batman Beyond's main titles). 

This December, Cooke's art will grace the variant covers of 23 different DC Comics, 22 of which are the company's prime superhero titles like BatmanSupermanJustice League and many more. The covers will be offered in a "widescreen" format, meaning they'll fold out to reveal a landscape-style image, and while you as a comics reader might ignore variant covers most of the time because you really just want the story, trust us: These are covers you want.

Why? Well, not only are they beautiful Darwyn Cooke art, but they're basically a peek into an alternate DC Universe that doesn't really exist in the company's main continuity right now. There's a lot of joy in these images, from Batgirl enjoying a ride on her motorcycle to Superman and Wonder Woman enjoying some down time. There's also a lot of humor, including a Batman/Superman cover in which the Caped Crusader and the Man of Tomorrow breathe a sigh of relief after defusing a bomb and a Teen Titans cover in which the gang's in a rock band. Those images are a welcome break from the often super-serious, angst-ridden DC stories we're getting these days (not that there's anything wrong with those), but Cooke also brings some drama to the party with covers for Green Lantern Corps, Batman and more. When you look at all of the images together you get an spellbinding mix of tones, from high action to poignant moments of quiet, and you're reminded of just how many different kinds of stories you can tell with these characters. I might be alone in thinking this (I doubt I am), but DC could really learn a lesson from Cooke here. Superhero comics could be (should be) this vibrant all the time. 

Check out all the covers in the gallery below, and look for them in comics shops this December.

(Via ComicsAlliance)

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