One of my favorite super teams is The New Defenders and it’s no small part due to the amazing covers of Kevin Nowlan. His take on Valkyrie alone is enough to leave me breathless, but his Doctor Strange is classic and elegant. I’ve never been much of a Hulk fan, but I like the over-sized hands and feet and raw expression of anger on his face (although he does look a bit small to me overall). Thank goodness Nowlan is sharing some of his past artwork and process on his blog.
This image is from cover of The New Defenders #134. The colored version is beautiful, but I love the simplicity of the inks alone. Nowlan’s covers were haunting and eerie, well-suited for a team consisting of a valkyrie, a gragoyle and an angel. You can check out all of the covers of the series here. The strange lanky man stepping on Valkyrie is Manslaughter, a minor villain whose powers were telepathic in nature. His claim to fame is invading the Defenders’ headquarters twice. He had a bit of a Joker vibe to him. (For those who might not know, the defeated heroes are Angel, Beast, Cloud and Valkyrie).
More amazing Doctor Strange goodness with different hungry tentacles! I love the lightning bolt effects around Stephen’s hands and the window behind him. Doctor Strange is loaded with symbols and iconic imagery and a truly talented draftsman/designer like Nowlan knows how to incorporate them into the overall image! We all benefit from the result!
I love the amazing lines in Nowlan’s inks–the heavy use of shadow, the tiny lines denoting muscles on Namor, the Sub-Mariner, and the Hulk, even the crescent and stars around Dr. Strange’s hand representing his magical prowess–they all add up to a spectacular pin-up of the original Defenders.
Here’s the pencil drawing of the above inked version. It’s so much fun to compare and contrast the differences. They are both pretty amazing. Awesome art by an industry legend! One more thing: here’s a fun X-Men Vs. Apocalypse image (featuring Storm!).
It seems that Kevin Nowlan has not drawn Storm often. At least, I had a difficult time finding images of her drawn by him. I found this one quite by accident as it is an image from New Mutants #51 (page 30). Storm looks more severe than was usual during her punk phase. I do find Magneto’s shirt-ripping tantrum to be rather amusing.