Somewhere along the line, the powers-that-be realized that perhaps Liefeld’s “greatest” weaknesses — complete lack of page layout ability, utter disregard for basic anatomy, the wordsmithing of a Tourette’s-afflicted kindergartner, unnatural fixation on shouting/grimacing/overwrought faces — could be turned into strengths if he were used as a cover artist instead of a regular interior penciler. Which gives us horrors like the following:
The beauty of the cover layout is that you can easily avoid the little niggling details that bedevil you as an artist, such as anatomical bits you can’t really draw. Which Liefeld has managed to screw up by actually including feet. In his defense, however, it’s really hard to illustrate a scene were a dozen super-powered individuals watch in horror as one of their members takes a power-dump right in front of them without including a foot or two.
It’s hard for me to figure out any other explanation for what this cover is supposed to portray; all I can come up with is perhaps this team consists of a collection of metahuman proctologists, and we’ve interrupted an exam? What’s worse is, judging by the look on the brickish fellow’s face in the upper right quadrant, the exam results are not going to be good news for our hero.
While we’re looking at that guy, notice the lovely spread of phlegmings he’s sporting. I always try to figure out if the clingy ropes of spittle festooning these wide-gaping maws spell something, like an alphabet soup of mucous in some kind of disgusting homage to Hirschfeld hiding his name in his drawings. I think in this case it’s “RAR”, which is possibly Liefeld crying out for help by saying “REPENTANT ARTIST RAVAGER” or “RESIST AVENGER REHASHES”. Or maybe it’s like a double-layered dose of screaming savagery as, denied the right to make word balloons out of inchoate screams of rage, he’s managed to embed a mighty RAAAAAARRRR! in his figure’s mouth anyway. Fight the good fight, Rob, don’t let The Man keep you down!
Of course you’re also given a number of other Liefeld staples here, unfettered by the bonds of a panel. You’ve got plenty of room, for instance, to dwell lovingly on the wicker shoulder pads; the impossibly-held sword hilts; the aforementioned ab-clenching power-squat stance; the background figure with no nose in the full face mask (seriously, how does that guy breathe?!); the spray-paint-on-boobs “t-shirt”; the lack of any sort of background setting other than a generic “space stars”; and random full figures floating about in the foreground. What the hell is that girl doing squatting there? Why is she so very tiny? And what is she standing on that makes a squat necessary?
The classic bad Rob Liefeld cover, of course, is the infamous “Floating Body Parts” Captain America joint, which I will urge you to not look at, even though I am putting it next. Look away and save yourself, I beg you!
Again you have the power-dump-squat, although this time the main figure appears to be pooping out random body parts, like the weird disembodied hand or the skull-less face, which seems oddly chipper given the alimentary odyssey it’s just been through. Indeed, the power of this intestinal expulsion is so mighty it appears to have bent Cap’s unbreakable shield, forming it into a bizarrely foreshortened and distended bowl. But the worst is how the massive strain is clearly about to make his entire upper chest explode into a mass of hemorrhaged veins. No wonder Nick Fury looks so depressed; you would too if you had to appear on a Rob Liefeld cover.
And anything that makes Colonel Fury sad gives me reason number nine that I hate Rob Liefeld’s art.
(Top image ©Rob Liefeld; bottom image © Marvel Comics.)