Faced with the challenge to lead a little discussion, I'll start with something that's been on my mind for a bit, something I hope other people might be willing to chime in with their own examples, too: Covers that were so compelling, you just HAD to buy the comic.
I have a few examples, so I thought I'd share them.
My leadoff example is this little gem: Avengers #158 (April 1977), the very first brand new, hot-off-the-presses comic I purchased with my own cold, hard cash.
Before then, all the comics I had were back issues, acquired from the friendly neighborhood corner store at a dime apiece (thank God for neighborhood corner stores!), or from a buddy who was into comics before I was (thank God for comics fans who spread the word!), or from one of my uncles, who left some at my grandmother's house (thank God for cool uncles!), or from the friendly neighborhood library's swap table (every Wednesday, they put some comics out; you traded any comics you didn't want, one for one, for any comics in the pile, or just bought them) or from the friendly neighborhood thrift store my family ran for a time, which had a three-foot-high stack of Silver Age DCs for me to peruse (sheer wonderfulness, let me tell you!).
So, casting about with some loose change burning a hole in my pocket, I selected carefully from the spinner rack at the neighborhood drug store. Being the cheapskate bargain hunter that I am, this seemed like the best choice: Why get a book with one hero when you can get a story of a whole team? But that cover -- !
It's a masterpiece of design. In the upper left corner, you have The Vision emerging from the Avengers logo, with its arrow guiding the eye over to the right side of the page. Directly below the logo, however, is the blurb "IT HAD TO HAPPEN -- WONDER MAN VS. THE VISION!" just over Captain America's shield on his outstretched arm, which guides the eye right to left back across the page to Iron Man's exhortation "NO! DON'T STOP THEM! LET THEM FIGHT IT OUT!", which steers you to the concerned visage of The Scarlet Witch and then Iron Man himself, blocking her and Captain America from breaking up the fight.
And what a fight it is! Wonder Man's left hand is all the way inside The Vision's chest! And he's preparing a mighty swing with his right as The Vision stands immovable and resolute!
Finally, to balance things out is this second blurb, a black circle with white text signaling the grim nature of the affair: "TWO OF THE WORLD'S MIGHTIEST BEINGS LOCKED IN MORTAL COMBAT -- UNTIL ONLY THE VICTOR REMAINS!"
And not only that -- this comic had the first appearance of Graviton! Whatta deal!
No question. I saw a house ad for Flash #189 in a DC comic from that same month which my parents had bought for me. I didn't even know who Kid Flash was at the time, but I had to find out the story behind this cover and that big ol' tear!
It took me 20 years before I scored a copy, and when I finally did, I found the story to be kinda boring. The anticipation really was better than the story itself. Great cover, though!
Recently this and
Or just about any Steranko cover from the late '60s. They were more like movie posters, or rock concert posters, than comic-book covers. They really jumped off the stands, as comics had to in the newsstand era.
Gene Colan was a master of the mysteriously symbolic cover. I wasn't sure what was going on in this cover ... but I sure wanted to read the story and find out.
Doc Beechler's choice (X-Men No. 172) was a good one. Here's another eye-catching cover from the same year.
I posted some recent one so I'll go back a little further
Nothing specatuclar about this cover but I thought it was kinda cool. This was also before I knew Marvel had a line of covers like it. I would post more Amazing Spider-man covers but I'm trying to collect that series as slowly as possible to any issue I see I buy it. So it's not really for the covers though I like a lot of them.
I mentioned this over here, but it bears repeating:
I got this (that is, Wonder Woman #202, May 2004) because, one day, I visited my friendly neighborhood comics shop and found that they had only two comics set aside for me that week. So, with a little extra cash, I looked around for something else to buy and saw this -- Wonder Woman as I've never seen her before! Not in the usual uniform, not in her battle armor, not even in the ceremonial garb she wears on occasion. No, here she is at a red-carpet event, in strappy sandals and a slinky, form-hugging, fire-engine-red floor-length satin halter gown sure to cause heart failure -- or other circulatory distress -- in any male within a thousand yards.
How could I resist?
While I was at it, I got the previous issue. It was a good thing, too, because it seemed #202 was a change-of-pace issue between two major story arcs -- and this cover scene wasn't part of the story! Not only that, Wonder Woman wasn't even in the story! Instead, it was the secret origin of Veronica Cale, a new antagonist for our heroine, a media mogul in the J. Jonah Jameson/Richard Mellon Sciafe vein bent on using her publications to discredit and destroy Wonder Woman in the public's mind.
It was disappointing not to find Wonder Woman in that story, but it was more disappointing to read the issue prior; the Veronica Cale story was drawn by guest artists who, frankly, drew a lot better than the regular art team.
In any event, that cover got me back on board with Wonder Woman for the duration of the Greg Rucka era and all that followed ... at least, until J. Michael Stracynski started boring us to tears ...
Nothing says "The Sixties" like MJ in her go-go boots. Still one of my favorite covers.