13 Fab Variations on KEVIN MAGUIRE’s Famed JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 Cover

The fan-fave artist — born Sept. 9, 1960 — turns 63! Wanna make somethin’ of it?


Artist Kevin Maguire has entered that rarified air where, if he chose to, he could probably make a great living doing nothing but drawing custom homages to his revered Issue #1 cover for DC’s 1987 relaunch of the Justice League. In much the same way with Bob Layton and his Iron Man #128 cover or Mick Zeck with his Captain America Annual #8, there seems to be an endless appetite for variations on those much-loved themes.

And while I often try to showcase lesser-seen pieces to celebrate a creator’s birthday, Kevin has done too many amazing homages to that Justice League #1 cover to spotlight anything else here, in honor of his birthday.

Which certainly isn’t to imply that Kevin hasn’t done amazing work on many other titles throughout his career – he certainly has, and I’d recommend pretty much all of it, from The Adventures of Captain America to his Defenders series with Justice League writer JM DeMatteis, to his periodic work on series like Supergirl and Legion of Super-Heroes—but he’s just done so many great variations on that Justice League cover that I can’t resist spotlighting them.

Like pretty much everyone, I love that cover, too, and I couldn’t resist homaging it myself on a Weekly World News trade paperback cover, courtesy of artist Alan Robinson.

But we’re here to celebrate Kevin, no one else, so unless you “wanna make somethin’ of it,” please join me in celebrating the birthday of the inimitable Kevin Maguire!

Before we jump into the 13 variations, we have to start here, of course: with Justice League #1, an image Kevin revisited a while later with this “one-minute-later” variant.

Batman ’66. This poster displaying heroes and villains from the beloved Batman TV show of 1966 perfectly displays Kevin’s unmatched skill with facial expressions, and also shows off a helluva talent for actors’ likenesses, too.

Captain Carrot. Any piece that gives Pig Iron his due is good with me.

Chanukah. This holiday piece from 2022 gathers together Jewish comics characters both prominent (the Thing, Magneto) and lesser-known (Sabra).

DC Gay League. DC’s various LGBTQ+ characters band together for this image.

DC’s CW TV Universe. Kevin again showed some real mastery of actor likenesses here with this collection of characters from across DC’s modern television universe.

Super Friends. This piece is one of the few times I don’t find Marvin annoying…

Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know Nick Fury is the leader but it’s pretty impossible to take your eyes off Maguire’s version of the Hulk here.

Marvel Monsters. How badly does this piece make you want to see Maguire draw a Man-Thing series?

Universal Monsters. OK, now I want a Gill-Man/Man-Thing monster crossover series. This one is one of my all-time favorites.

Doctor Who. This was done before Jodie Whittaker took on the role but I’ve no doubt Kevin would’ve handled her likeness as well as he handled all the Doctors that came before.

The Portland Avengers. From Marvel’s 75th anniversary celebration, part of the Best Marvel Comics Never Made (which also included a censored Alan Davis image featuring Rom and other forbidden licensed characters, but that’s for another column another day).

JLI — 35 Years Later. As we celebrate another year passing for Kevin, he created this 2022 piece that contemplated what the Justice League might look like if they aged 35 years since Kevin’s first JL cover was released.

Modern Masters Vol. 10. And finally, Kevin did a version of his famous cover that included him, and rightfully so, since this was the cover of a TwoMorrows Modern Masters spotlight on the man and his art.

As a bonus, while neither one is as direct a riff on that first cover as the preceding 13 images, here are two final pieces that reference it: one from 2020, as the team tried to lead the way in masking up, and a variant for the newly released first issue of Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville, featuring two characters who were important parts of the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire version of the team.

OK, one more even if it further breaks the “13” theme, because there are still so many other homages I’m not able to feature here today. There are plenty of others, and they’re all great fun, so if you want to carry the celebration from here to Google to see even more, it’ll be time well spent. But this one feels like a great way to stop – Kevin’s wraparound cover for the monster JLI Omnibus, which is pretty perfect in every way.


— 13 COVERS: A KEVIN MAGUIRE Birthday Celebration — 2022 EDITION. Click here.

— 13 COVERS: The JUSTICE LEAGUE in the BWA-HA-HA ’80s. Click here.

Chris Ryall is the co-owner/publisher of Image Comics imprint Syzygy Publishing. His latest series is Tales of Syzpense, out now. Subscribe to his Substack of the same name!

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Great stuff as usual! Have you done a collection of other artists who’ve referenced this cover over the years?

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  2. What, no aging Elvis on the World Weekly News cover? Sacrilege!

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  3. Great stuff, and a Portland Avengers would be awesome!

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  4. Fun piece, and Happy Birthday Kevin

    Who’s that behind Tasmanian Devil on the gay cover?

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  5. Love how William Hartnell is pushing Peter Cushing out of the pic in the Doctor Who cover (upper left corner…)

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  6. Your so right about actor’s likenesses. I can tell that the Hunchback of Notre Dame is Charles Laughton.

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  7. These all look great. So much so that I’ll overlook the fact that in the “one minute later” variation Guy is grabbing Dr. Fate’s helmet when at the time that premiered the rings still had their yellow impurity.

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