Marvel Mixes Hip-Hop With Comic Books to Make New Covers
It's no secret that the hip-hop and comic book cultures have always had a symbiotic relationship. This fall, Marvel Comics plans to give fans physical evidence of that phenomenon by reissuing five of its seminal works with covers that invoke classic hip-hop albums. The first, designed by Mike Del Mundo, takes the legendary (and legendarily expensive) Spider-Man #1 with A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders. Released in 1993, Marauders caught Tribe at the height of their fame, with Q-Tip saving barbs for the race politic police ("Sucka N---a") and Phife warning foes about his impending solo career ("Oh My God").
Also from Del Mundo (and also from 1993) is this, a mash-up of the first issue in the Squadron Supreme series and The Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. The Squadron first appeared in Avengers #85 in 1971, confusing the more famous super-team with their similar names and powers. But the line-ups quickly joined forces, fighting Brain-Child and a host of other villains. The Wu, of course, formed with equal force, and 36 Chambers set off a domino chain of classic solo albums and a commercial reign unheard of for such a specific, uncompromising sound.
Casual moviegoers might be aware that Ant-Man has been adapted in a new Paul Rudd-starring summer flick. But the Mark Brooks-designed cover for the first issue of his comic series hearkens back to a time when the Avengers' smallest member was just a little-known ex-scientist. The cover is based on The Notorious B.I.G.'s classic Ready to Die.
The first issue of Spider-Man/Deadpool is reimagined by Dave Johnson as Eric B. & Rakim's 1987 debut album, Paid In Full. A famous anti-hero, Deadpool was always a thorn in the side of his more famous friend, famous for breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to readers. Paid In Full is one of the most stylistically influential rap records of the late 1980s, with Rakim's carefully crafted internal rhymes forming the blueprint for much of Nas' early output.
For the newest comic series of the five, artist Phil Noto went with the most contemporary album. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which was finally announced as its own series last year, is crossed here with Tyler, The Creator's tongue-in-cheek cover for Wolf. Though some comic fans may be unfamiliar, Squirrel Girl will be included in the cast of New Avengers.
Adi Granov reimagines Miles Morales, the best-known non-Peter Parker Spider-Man, as Nas from the Illmatic cover. Of course, that 1994 debut is often seen as the gold standard for a hip-hop album; in addition to ferrying Rakim and Big Daddy Kane's precise patterns into the modern era, it predicted the practice of assembling an all-star list of producers for a single rapper's LP. Speaking of which:
In Jim Cheung's version of this Avengers cover, some of the world's most beloved superheroes assemble as a team. The cover is of the Roots' Illadelph Halflife; while other albums garnered more acclaim from national publications--and while it doesn't have the hit singles or the Grammys--many fans consider Illadelph to be the Roots best, or at least hardest record.
Finally, digging way way back, Hawkeye gets dropped onto the cover of Pete Rock and CL Smooth's seminal Mecca & the Soul Brother. Artist Sanford Greene reimagines the cover as something even more sinister.