So here it is.
Because I'm an obsessive list maker, here are ten of my favorites (with links). I'll stick to Silver Age and up, so I don't have to try to track down images of Golden Age Mac Raboy or EC covers. I could honestly list dozens of covers that I either love as art, or that hold a special place in my heart, but here are ten:
X-Men #50 (Steranko): This cover grabbed my attention when I was a kid first seeking out X back issues, and I still think it's really effective, especially coming in an era when there wasn't yet a TON of experimentation going on with Marvel cover art (DC was doing lots of cool shit):
Speaking of Mac Raboy, I love this Adam Hughes homage to Raboy's old Captain Marvel, Jr. covers:
Growing up, the Byne/Austin/Claremont X-Men is what gave me the biggest geek woody, so I have to include one cover from that run. Truth is, the best covers from Byrne's run were by Cockrum, but since this (#133) is probably the first "Wolverine unleashed" cover ever, I'm including it. This issue is where Wolverine really became Wolverine:
This is my favorite Kirby Thor cover, and I think he did his best cover work on Thor. Such a shame Vince Colletta inked so much of his run. Thor #142:
I'm a Blackhawk freak (always trying to get DC to let me do *something* with them), and there are a ton of 'Hawk covers I love, but I've always really dug this Pat Boyette cover, From Blackhawk #242. The last two issues of the sixties-era Blackhawk put them back in their black leather (they had been dressed as superheroes for a while before that), and told cool old school Blackhawk stories, with art by Boyette (who did most of his work for Charlton):
Some of my favorite covers of all time are Nick Cardy's Aquaman covers. Kind of ironic that DC had more interesting stuff going on with cover design in the late sixties than they do now.
Jerry Ordway's "painted" covers to the Power of Shazam! were favorites, too, especially in an era where early Image-inspired gritty bullshit was the norm. I love a bunch of 'em, but here's one of the best. Power! #8:
One of my favorite comics of all time is Peter Bagge's HATE! It's the ultimate ode to my generation. The lead character in HATE! was Buddy Bradley, who was introduced in "The Bradleys" stories in NEAT STUFF, and the cover to #15, in which Buddy leaves his family and curls up on a toxic New Jersey beach in his sleeping bag, is one of my favorites:
DC's mystery titles had a pretty great run of covers, including a lot of Neal Adams, Kaluta and Wrightson stuff. I love this Wrightson cover, just because it's the coolest looking zombie head this side of Tony Moore:
Ed Hannigan is one of the more underrated cover artists, doing a lot of really cool work in the late seventies and early eighties. He did some rad Batman covers, but I've always loved his Spec Spidey covers: