Comic book covers are like the best movie posters: they make people desperate to buy the product while also standing on their own as a piece of artwork. It’s this incredible balance that makes these artistic creations some of the most memorable pieces of comic books. A great cover is not only something that can stand the test of time on its own, it is a promise made to readers about the quality of the content in the pages that lie beyond the cover.
Comic book covers, like comics as a whole, have gone through a massive evolution in the decades since the medium was first created in the 1930s. As comic book art has progressed, with a vast array of styles taking shape throughout the decades, covers have become more and more unique. The creativity that took shape in the 1970s and 1980s combined with the artistic flourishes of the somewhat dull 1990s, resulting in the fantastic 2000s.
These 25 covers, which were published from 2000 through 2009, represent some of the best covers ever created in the medium. Unlike many of the other decades, the 2000s have some of the most variety in cover styles, with artists putting their hearts and souls into insanely memorable pieces of art.
For other lists spotlighting the best covers across the years, check out The Greatest Comic Book Covers by Decade.
25. Green Arrow #1 by Matt Wagner
24. The Amazing Spider-Man #611 by Skottie Young
23. Daredevil #115 by Marko Djurdjevic
Djurdevic’s cover is equal parts stylish and realistic, combining the two to make a powerful piece of art that is just violent enough to strike terror into viewers. Daredevil seems helpless and with Bullseye’s signature target on display, The Man Without Fear is obviously in trouble.
22. Detective Comics #745 by Dave Johnson
While the story may not be remembered by most as vividly, Jonson cretes a striking art deco cover that stands out from the typical comic art by embracing an old fashion sensibility. It’s a perfect match for Batman’s noir detective roots.
21. Batman #686 by Andy Kubert
A lineup of enemies and a ghostly visage of The Caped Crusader looming overhead make for a perfect entrance into Neal Gaiman’s surreal story of the many possible deaths of Batman. Stark shadows bounce wonderfully off harsh lighting for a striking cover by Adams.
20. Captain America #25 by Ed McGuinness
This ultra-realistic cover may telegraph the ending of the comic, but Marvel had already spoiled the death of Captain America before this issue debuted. Violent, sad, and shocking, this is the perfect way to usher in a new era for Captain America comics.
19. Thor #8 by Marko Djurdjevic
If there is one word to describe Thor, it’s powerful. Djurdjevic’s painterly style shows Thor’s power off in striking detail, surrounding The God of Thunder with lightning and wind that feels as if it is about to leap right off the page.
18. The Amazing Spider-Man #500 by J. Scott Campbell
Spider-Man is defined by his rogues and his relationship with Mary Jane Watson as much as any other factor in his comics, so it’s only fair that his 500th issue be jampacked with this characters. Campbell’s style makes this as fun as it is intense, with the white background making each colorful character stand out.
17. Gotham Central #11 by Michael Lark
Gotham Central was an intensely realistic comic book, tracking the rough daily lives of the police officers in Batman’s city. So turning one of the issue’s covers into an old school romantic throwback featuring The Dark Knight in an impossible situation is a striking and fun change of pace.
16. The Incredible Hulk #34 by Kaare Andrews
As a detailed homage to The Incredible Hulk Annual #1, Andrew’s intense covers is a perfect visual pair for an issue trumpeting the “Return of the Monster.” All rain, fire, ripped clothing, and bulging veins, this rubble-strewn piece of art is one of Hulk’s defining images.
15. Klarion #2 by Frazer Irving
Irving has a taste for silhouettes and his cover for Klarion is the height of that style. Horns, burning eyes, and flaming insides don’t make the hero of this series seem all that likeable, but this intense cover will burn itself into your brain.
14. Invincible Iron Man #20 by Salvador Larroca
Since this story arc in Invincible Iron Man completely revolved around Tony Stark in a coma, trying to recover from a mind wipe, it’s only appropriate that the cover features Iron Man inside the head of Iron Man, studying the head of Iron Man. Trippy.
13. Captain America #6 by John Cassaday
The Sentinel of Liberty is the perfect hero to put front and center in the most patriotic cover possible. Decked out in gold, red, white, and blue, Captain America looks fantastic as a living and breathing statue. It’s inspiring, iconic, and an image so perfect for Captain America, it’s a wonder no one did it sooner.
12. Captain America Reborn #1 by Alex Ross
After more than a year presumed dead, Captain America returns to the world of comic books, but as this Alex Ross cover shows, it won’t be an easy journey. Ross’s ultra-real paints are shown off with this blinding white background, heralding Cap’s rebirth in a style no one can forget.
11. Runaways #18 by Marcos Martin
Bright blue skies and green grass team with the carefree nature of both framing and the characters themselves juxtaposed against a dire warning. This is the perfect marriage between image and tagline, making a statement that dares any passerby to not pass this comic by.
10. Captain America #600 by Alex Ross
Captain America and Alex Ross are just too perfect together. For the 600th issue, Ross jams in every element needed in this vital installment. It’s a dynamic and arresting layout that would stand among the best film posters, as streaming light, Bucky’ gleaming Captain America outfit, and an incoming shield line up in a pitch perfect dutch angle.
9. Astonishing X-Men #1 by John Cassaday
By this point in time, not much is needed to announce The X-Men besides Wolverine’s claws. The character and team are synonymous, so putting three gleaming claws front and center over a black background sparks imagination and anticipation for a brand new series (written by Joss Whedon) more effectively than a character-stuffed piece of art.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man #578 by Marcos Martin
While not every comic book cover needs to telegraph an eventual plot point in the pages beyond, the image of Spider-man desperately holding up what surely must be tons is meant to entice readers to find out what happens next. With title, number, and names all crumbling down, this cover is a powerful and complete experience. You just know Spidey will make it out somehow!
7. Batman #669 by J.H. Williams, III
Williams’ art is an effective blend of both the modern and classic, especially during “The Black Glove” arc of Batman. As a story that sees Batman and Robin forced to team up with a selection of washed-up heroes who followed in their wake, an image of heroes united brings excitement as the arc hits a climax. With red fists against a grey background, this is a rallying call for heroes and readers alike.
6. Captain America #2 by John Cassaday
It’s simple and powerful the way a propaganda poster should be. It’s a rallying call in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks with the powerful and iconic image of Captain America making the first strike against terrorism. While the art may be simplistic, it’s detailed in every way possible and has been planned to the exact detail. Terror doesn’t stand a chance against Captain America.
5. Daredevil #13 by Joe Quesada
The Kingpin is a frequently imposing and frightening villain, so seeing him sink to the depths with a bloody trail in his wake can capture the imagination of any reader familiar with the character. For those unfamiliar, Quesada’s watercolors are strong enough to make a violent and somewhat gruesome image into something beautiful, with Daredevil’s iconic logo spelled out in the visceral aftermath.
4. Wolverine #41 by C.P. Smith
For being a ubiquitous character that is often oversaturated in the comic book market, Wolverine is rarely the subject of truly artistic covers. This is easily one of his greatest ever. Smith’s stark blacks and rough colors portray the rugged and violent nature of the story while the baby Wolverine is tasked with protected is brought to life in simple and innocent detail. It’s an effective and frightening portrait of life’s fragility and Wolverine’s sacrifice.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man #612 by Marko Djurdjevic
After being gone from the comic pages for a period of time, Electro is back in a big bad way. There’s something incredibly simple yet insanely complex about this cover, as Electro’s face, Spider-Man’s eye, and the New York cityscape combine to hint at an incoming epic showdown. The danger is palpable and the crackling electricity on display slices through red, black, and white for Spider-Man’s best cover of the 2000s.
2. Batman #676 by Alex Ross
In what has easily become one of Batman’s most iconic images, Ross creates a sense of foreboding and dread, both for The Caped Crusader and the enemies who choose to oppose him. While it is far from the most complex of Ross’ covers, the black pit of Batman’s cape juxtaposed with dynamic blue blur make this one of his defining works. Plus, with that “R.I.P.” logo in the corner, you know something terrible is about to unfold in the pages within.
1. Daredevil #71 by Alex Maleev
That’s quite the statement, especially for a man who dresses up a red devil and beats the pulp out of criminals with his bare hands. This may be the pure essence of simplicity, but this first entry into Daredevil’s “Decalogue” story arc makes an incredibly powerful statement. Daredevil has become The Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen, and he has come to establish law and order in his own image. The rest of the entries into this arc follow in this style, but it’s the first entry that packs the strongest punch.