In today's world of competing billion-dollar brands, fans of one form of entertainment or media typically have enough to keep them busy - staying up to speed on new releases, collaborations, and online conversations. Given that, it's easy to forget that creators of one type of art tend to be informed by others... and some of the most brilliant creators alive spend just as much time with the TV show, movies, music, and video games as their fans. Case in point: the latest batch of comic book covers Marvel has cooked up to show their undying love for Hip Hop.
Specifically, it's seminal releases that had a lasting impact on Hip Hop music and culture, and it's not the first time Marvel has fused legendary hip hop artists with their superheroes. It was an idea launched back in 2015 spurred on by Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, with groups like Run DMC, Redman, The Roots, Raekwon, and too many others to name seeing just how much their own art had influenced those behind some of today's biggest superhero comics. And as any Hip Hop fan knows, a hunt for pivotal, influential, or simply unforgettable albums will always turn up more.
The newest batch of variants for Marvel's Spring and Summer titles have just been released (via CBR), and contain, as expected, even more Hip Hop/Hero mash-ups that fans won't want to miss. After all, how many chances do you get to see 2Pac and Spider-Man sharing an unforgettable moment?
The new selection also features a cover of Nick Fury #1 based off the cover of RZA's "Bobby Digital in Stereo" from artist Bill Sienkiewicz (who actually produced the original art as well). The variants will be available for a variety of #1s, with influences as recent as 2016, and as far back as the Masters of Ceremony's debut album "Dynamite" (Grand Puba's first album in 1988, shortly before he founded Brand Nubian). Fans are sure to expect even more announced in the near future, but with homages from Frank Ocean to Tupac Shakur, there looks to be something for everybody... regardless of how interested they may be in the actual comics (we see what you're doing here, Marvel...).
Take a look at the full list of variants revealed and their release dates (if available) below:
- Royals #1 by Keron Grant, based off Frank Ocean’s “Blond” (2016). Available April 5, 2017
- The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 by Sam Spratt, based off 2Pac’s “All Eyez on Me” (1996). Available June 2017.
- Nick Fury #1 by Bill Sienkiewicz, based off RZA’s “Bobby Digital in Stereo” (1998). Available April 2017.
- Luke Cage #1 by Tim Bradstreet, based off Method Man’s “Tical 2000” (1998). Available May 17, 2017.
- Generation X #1 by Kevin Wada, based off Rae Sremmurd’s “SremmLife 2” (2016). Available May 17, 2017.
- X-Men Blue #1 by Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain, based off Masters of Ceremony’s “Dynamite” (1988). Available April 12, 2017.
What began as a simple tribute has since grown into a collection of over four dozen covers merging the characters and styles of Marvel Comics with the underground, mainstream, experimental, and formative Hip hop albums of history. It's hard to wonder just when, and why, the initiative would stop. The artists assembled continue to turn out work that isn't just clever, but accomplished in its own rite. And while Hip Hop and comic books may both be enjoying mainstream success these days, it was the people who spent years-- decades working in the trenches to make it so.
The average ages of comic book writers, artists, and Hip Hop stars may be dropping by the year, but it's always nice to know that some things never change. And if there's one thing most comic book fans can agree on, it's that a little rebellious attitude is always a good thing.