Friday, August 13, 2010

The Top Ten Nightshade Covers

Nightshade is not a popular character. Google "Nightshade Wiki," and the minor Marvel Comics villainess pops-up on the first page, whereas I gave up on finding Eve Eden after page five. The "Darling of Darkness" was the daughter of a senator who took up crime-fighting with her ability to literally meld into shadows. Nightshade shared a romantic partnership with Captain Atom, then replaced Blue Beetle as a back-up strip, before the Charlton Action Heroes line was canceled. As part of a various revivals of the characters, Nightshade served as "the girl," and inspired the creation of the Watchmen roulette girlfriend Silk Spectre. As a member of the Suicide Squad, she was "the other girl," consigned to the background on covers, even in a multi-part story bearing her name. I haven't read much Shadowpact, but seeing as her placement on covers wasn't much more prominent than in Suicide Squad, my expectations are low. What started as as a strong martial heroine became a perpetual victim at DC-- traumatized, tragic, and otherwise in distress. Personally, I like her costume, she has a cool origin, and an artistic lineage including Steve Ditko, Jim Aparo and Pat Broderick is nothing to sneeze at. Still, one look at the "honorable mentions" tells the tale of potential squandered.

10) Suicide Squad #21 (December, 1988)

A flat, ugly, and awkward cover made relevant because it was the only one in the series to feature the character solo and in full costume.

9) Suicide Squad #57 (September, 1991)

Without her trademark New Wave specs, Nightshade is barely recognizable, and in a compromised position besides. Still, you just saw the cover grading in effect on the ten spot.

8) The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #4 (December, 1999)

Speaking of unrecognizable, this short-lived and economically imagined redesign barely outlived the mini-series everyone chose to forget ever happened.

7) Captain Atom #85 (March, 1967)

A cluttered, uninspired cover, but improving.

6) Suicide Squad #12 (April, 1988)

Jerry Bingham was always good for a cover, and this was the last noteworthy appearance of Nightshade's original and best costume. Another Nightshade cover pattern is that even in the rare instances she's the featured hero, she's invariably in such a position of weakness the villain becomes the de facto star.

5) Secret Origins #28 (July, 1988)

Not a terribly appealing piece, but Nightshade is the main draw, signaling a blue moon/solar eclipse. Well, unless your taste runs to the Spirit's answer to Marvelman.

4) Captain Atom #82 (September, 1966)

The colors are too dark, but looking through the villain to our partnered heroes is novel. Note the perspective favoring Nightshade over Captain Atom.

3) Justice League Quarterly #14 (April, 1994)

Mike Mignola teased a cool, new school Action Heroes revival, but the interiors were pure dud. Nightshade is clearly in her element, even if the shades and aerobic leotard were looking mighty dated so many years out from Flashdance.

2) Americomics Special #1: Sentinels of Justice (August, 1983)

The only redesign to capitalize on the unusual blue/orange color scheme, and while not as hip as the McDonnell suit, it's also less stuck in one period. Fact is, this design seems to anticipate the '90s somewhat, and is probably the least objectionable of all Nightshade costumes. Finally, the Darling of Darkness is dynamic and visible!

1) Captain Atom #14 (April, 1988)

Retro charm meets modern rendering for the one truly great Nightshade cover. I love the cute/creepy bug eyes and the miniskirt.

Honorable Mention
Captain Atom #22 (1987)
Suicide Squad #58 (1987)
Suicide Squad #66 (1987)
Suicide Squad #1 (2007)
War of the Gods #3
Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe Vol. XVII

Check out more spotlight countdowns of great art from the past 75 years of DC Comics Covers at DC75: Top Character Covers of the Dodranscentennial

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