Alex Ross pays homage to Jim Lee, the X-Men, and the Avengers with painted covers

Uncanny Avengers #1 Alex Ross connecting variant covers
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Superstar artist Alex Ross is paying tribute to the Avengers and the X-Men with a pair of fully-painted images set to appear on multiple interconnecting variant covers across the X-Men and Avengers lines.

Both paintings, of the Avengers and of the X-Men, will have their first interconnecting pieces revealed with August's Uncanny Avengers #1, which boasts connections to both teams as part of the so-called 'Unity Squad' meant to close the gap between the protectors of human and mutantkind. 

The Avengers image includes dozens of characters comprising nearly everyone who served as an Avenger, even just for a few issues, up through 1989.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

"In the case of the Avengers, I wanted to capture something of the era I grew up with, but also something extensive,” Ross explains in Marvel's original announcement of the covers. “So I captured the first 30 years of that team, from the ‘60s through the ‘80s. I end where 1989 closes. I'm trying to make sure my work is aligning with how the character looked and also the attitudes the characters had."

To that end, most of the characters in the image are depicted in their classic Silver and Bronze age outfits that they originally wore when joining the Avengers.

The X-Men piece, which Marvel bills as a celebration of 60 years since the team's 1963 debut, takes a slightly different approach, paying direct homage to Jim Lee's beloved interconnecting covers for 1991's X-Men #1, which is widely recognized as one of the most iconic X-Men images of all time.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

"With the X-Men piece, I didn't originally make the design. I copied an existing classic cover design that everybody would know and connect to,” Ross explains, going on to detail some of the changes he made to the original layout. 

"The X-Men piece is showing an accentuation of the action, where it's a split second difference later. Wolverine is completing a full attack swipe and everybody is attacking harder. I added in the bit with lightning coming from Storm, which would be a split second of movement."

Marvel hasn't specified which titles beyond Uncanny Avengers might receive variant covers with portions of the interconnecting images just yet.

Check out our picks for the best X-Men members of all time and the best Avengers members of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)