Last year, Marvel decided to pay tribute to the long history of hip-hop artists inspired by comic books with a special series of variant covers that were designed to look like classic albums. Iron Man did a 50 Cent homage, the Sam Wilson version of Captain America did his best A$AP Rocky, and Ms. Marvel recreated the cover art for The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. This year, Marvel’s doing the hip-hop thing again, with some of the company’s famous heroes and villains filling in for Chance The Rapper, Salt ‘N Pepa, L.L. Cool J, and more.
Playboy has the exclusive reveal of six hip-hop variant covers, along with some background information about this project from Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso. He says comic books and hip-hop music tend to “share a common narrative,” since they’re both “about underdogs struggling, striving, and persevering against overwhelming odds.” He also says that the variant covers are Marvel’s way of showing the many musicians influenced by its heroes that “the love is reciprocal.”
As for the covers themselves (at least the ones Playboy has revealed), Marvel seems to have mostly gone for aesthetic similarities and not necessarily thematic ones. For instance, one cover features Jessica Jones’ take on Kevin Gates’ Islah, with Alonso explaining that Gates’ “body language” on the original cover “simply nails who [Jessica Jones] is.” Similarly, Alonso says they chose LL Cool J’s Bigger And Deffer for Cage! because “the stance, the attitude was all Luke Cage.” The connection between Nova and Chance is a little flimsier, since it seems to be based entirely on the spacey background of Coloring Book, but whatever.
You can see the six covers below, and you’ll be able to get them in real-life this fall on copies of the debut issues of Champions, Ultimates 2, Infamous Iron Man, Jessica Jones, Cage!, and Nova.