covers (city as character): daredevil reborn – jock

August 29, 2010




Marvel have shown two rather blurry snaps of new covers for Andy Diggle’s upcoming Daredevil Reborn series . For more on this release of information, as summarised by Comics Alliance, click on the image below (Four issues, Writing: Andy Diggle, Art: Davide Gianfelice, Covers: Jock):



The release of these covers has been something to look forward to, for a few reasons:

  • Jock can be relied on to produce something you will want to look at. (See below for other possibly related material by this artist)
  • The Daredevil covers have a history of being some of the best covers drawn for comics, notable examples being those drawn by Esad Ribic and Roberto de la Torre (some of which, from each artist, feature on this blog). 
  • We know the cover will feature the City (which is a main character in the related stories), but it has been mentioned (where?) that it will not be the Gotham we have so far come to expect. The way the city is depicted and imagined is critical to how we, the viewer, fit ourselves into the story, so to see it afresh gives us a new angle on experiencing the work of an otherwise familiar character. 
  • Daredevil is one of the Marvel heroes who is closer to the reader’s everyday experience than most of the others, for a variety of reasons and, based on his previous history, it seems likely that Andy Diggle will keep him this way.
  • Andy Diggle tells a great story, but (I believe), irrespective of the story, can put together his comic script, so he gets the best out of the artists he works with. The mechanics of what makes the best comic scripting is something I don’t understand and probably should be making an effort to learn about, but this is true, I think, having *heard* Andy tell a story. 
  • Cover design is a constantly developing and competitive art, for a variety of (mainly commercial) reasons. How many genuinely competitive arts are there? This added edge means there is a reason for the artists making the covers to innovate.
  • My life’s work involves the design, drawing and making of the world we live in, both real and imagined. I’m not able to let this work past without at least thinking about it. I don’t pretend to know much about much, but all this is sufficiently thought provoking to make me try to organise my ideas in writing. 

Here are some notes, in no particular order. Comments (as always) are welcome, and (in this case) are invited.

  • Marvel always has a character from the story centrestage on the cover of their comics. This is no different, whether that character is a Daredevil-shaped void, or the city itself.
  • It’s not clear to me how these will be seen by the consumer, so I’m commenting on what I can see, not the eventual product these are part of. I have no other knowledge than what is shown here, so apologies if this does not match up with what other people know to be the reality.
  • Please can Marvel (or someone) release some better quality images. The city exists on a variety of scales and one of the points of depicting it is that you can see more than one*. It is not a one dimensional character. Image added on 31.08.10, via The Man Without Fear.



07.09.10 Update: Line art added, via Jock



  • It’s totally refreshing to see a take on cover design, where the hero is at large in his/ her environment, not standing in front of it, or subsuming it altogether. Just as people are essential in architecture, people, even  and especially heroes, do not exist entirely without environment (and the world).
  • This is a city we can recognise and we can situate ourselves there (1). This is to say we can imagine ourselves in the space in an abstract sense as we can infer it was a real  place (as opposed to made up, like the Gotham of previous stories). This draws the viewer into the story.
  • This is a city we can recognise and we can situate ourselves there (2). Not only are we set in the environment in an abstract sense, but also in a real sense as well. Our actual subjective point of view is placed at what could be an inhabited level i.e. one of the views is a real view, as opposed to an impossible view (one you would never actually see as you physically could not get to that point). Architects get this wrong all the time. We so often show our clients the birds-eye view, when in fact they should see the view they will actually get (which may not be as pretty).
  • There is nothing wrong with a birds-eye view for giving us the bigger picture, the objective bit of information. The first image, above does this. I’d expect it to be the top image to be the second cover used, if this is a crime story and some level of mystery is going to be preserved. This is to say, living in  the city itself is a detective story. You piece together small truths (people and place you know) and over time get a bigger picture of the whole. I’d expect the story of an urban hero like Daredevil to reveal itself in the same way. The city image here serves as a tease but we don’t understand much. See the note below about literalism. All this city image tells you is that there are questions.
  • The police line symbology superimposed on a large urban area infers a death (or change), but also mystery. 
  • The body is missing, but the space is empty and a void has been identified. Voids do not naturally occur in nature and will be filled in. Who by? 
  • The city can be taken as an environment, but it can also be taken as a protagonist, especially in the sense of a crime story: organised crime can operate city-wide and (for example as demonstrated in the the film The Departed) can be the entire place as well as the people who live there. 
  • The city in the birdseye image is a passive construct. Things happen to it, it does not impose strictures, at least on our main protagonist. This is true of Daredevil. Part of the point of him is that he is not held up by his environment. It is inferred that when he falls, the whole area is affected.
  • This is a city we can recognise and we can situate ourselves there (3). Our idea of the city where the events are going to take place is informed by our pre-existing ideas about Hell’s Kitchen as a real and imagined place. For me, I think “Taxi Driver” and a whole part of the background is painted in. Click on the image below for more about New York and its relationship to film shooting.



  • One image is dystopic (the top one), the other isn’t really. Its is easier to draw a dystopia (if you are drawing), its not easy to draw a non-dystopia, but we have the beginnings of one here (the second image).
  • The reality of life is that we do not live in a dystopia: therefore to situate the story in something that is not entirely about misery is helpful to the reader and draws us in. Again we fill in the blanks with our own experience. A comparison can be made to the cities in the film Inception here. Architects criticised the film for the ordinariness of the architecture and interiors. This is missing the what that design was about: it would be distracting to be anything other than generic, unless there was a specific point being made.
  • One image is a fractured view, a figuratively broken city, with an unbroken hero- so far, so comprehensible. The cityscape is a dystopic view, with a broken (and possibly fallen) hero. Would this have worked better if the city had not been drawn quite so blackly (i.e. it was drawn in a more ordinary and realistic fashion and showed the hero had been overcome while the city remained relatively undamaged?) This would depend on the story. You’d have to buy the book to know. Does subtlety have a place on covers? Probably not.
  • Is New York ever ordinary?
  • That second image is uncomfortable to look at (1) and the instant reaction is ‘I don’t like it’. Why is this? I’ve not worked it out but in order to see that view I think you’d have to be in a pretty uncomfortable or unbalanced position, possibly that of a victim. Again, (whatever is going on here) we are placed within the story, possibly literally.
  • Speaking of literally, Daredevil literally casts his shadow over the city (etc.) in that way. There’s nothing wrong with being literal as long as the design works on other levels too (which it does).
  • That second image is uncomfortable to look at (2). Graphically we are confronted with two pointy spikes in high contrast, one dark on light, the other light on dark. The graphics put into view ideas that cannot be put into words.
  • This is as close, almost as the cityscape itself can get to being shown as a physical protagonist: it visually presents the big pointy spikes to the exposed body of the flying man. 
  • Im impressed by the level of storytelling embedded into these cover graphics. Whether I’m making all this up or not (and whether this thought went into the original cover-making, or not) is not relevant. It is the fact that I can infer all this from the covers, and can be backed up by the image, that is important.
  • I think with these covers that the bar has been set higher for other designers. 
  • I’ll be buying this.
  • I hope to see more work of this standard (and which provokes thought in such a way).
  • There is more I could probably say and there is more I could edit here, but this is enough to be going on with.


* Example: see the second image in the Bruce Davidson post below. Foreground, middle ground and background are all visible and all tell different stories at different scales, which work as more than the sum of their parts).

Here is another Daredevil cover by Jock: original art for the Vampire Variant from Daredevil #511 (also for sale at Splashplage Art).




One Response to “covers (city as character): daredevil reborn – jock”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ted Brandt, alison. alison said: trying to get my head round something daredevil related. apologies in advance for the punctuation. […]

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