Last year, Marvel Comics celebrated hip-hop with 50 variant comic book covers recreating album covers from a wide variety of rap artists. Suddenly Spider-Man was paying tribute to A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders; Ant-Man to The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, Silver Surfer to Drake’s Nothing Was the Same. In January, they all got rounded up in The Hip-Hop Covers, a free 32-page comic with an introduction from Run the Jewels rapper/activist Killer Mike. “This was clearly done with love and the type of responsibility we could only hope more people take cue from when representing such an influential art form in my life,” he wrote.
Today Fuse is excited to announce that this fall, Marvel will tackle a second run of hip-hop variant covers, beginning with three homages to young, vital emcees: Black Panther #7, above, echoes 26-year-old King Mez’s Long Live the King. It's the work of Bill Sienkiewicz.
Below, Doctor Strange #1 reworks 19-year-old Desiigner’s “Panda," by Infinte Mind War. Also, Mosaic #1 by Marco D'Alfonso takes on Earl Sweatshirt's 2010 debut mixtape Earl, released just a month after the Odd Future member's 16th birthday. “It’s about two creative art forms shouting out to each other," Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso tells Fuse. "Hip-hop is the backbeat for any number of people who are writing, drawing and editing these comic books.”
King Mez digs his, saying:
"Growing up a huge comic book fan, it was a dream to come true to even be a part of this. Black Panther at that? Mannn, it was automatic when Marvel reached out. Really cool way to have LLTK immortalized like that. Hope we get to do a variant collab on my new project too."
Doctor Strange #1—one Marvel NOW!'s series of relaunches and new titles—is available Sept. 28. Black Panther #7 and Mosaic #1 are available Oct. 12. Many more heroes will get the rap album art treatment from there.
In October, The Hip-Hop Covers will see release as a collectible hardcover with a foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award/MacArthur Genius Grant–winning author who started penning the Black Panther comic earlier this year. Readers can also get a closer look at the forthcoming hip-hop variant covers with the Marvel NOW! magazine, downloadable for free right here.
For more on Marvel's 2016, including Axel Alonso's thoughts on the publishers continually diversifying roster (you met Riri Williams, right?), stayed tuned to Fuse.tv. Till then, watch Alonso break down Marvel's hip-hop variant covers for Fuse at New York Comic Con 2015: