First Look at Kevin Nowlan's Defenders cover for Overstreet / Hero Initiative Comic Book Price Guide #50

(Image credit: Gemstome Publishing)

Fan-favorite veteran artist Kevin Nowlan illustrates his take on the classic Marvel Defenders line-up of Doctor Strange, Namor, and the Hulk for the Hero Initiative exclusive limited edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #50.

The image is inspired by the Neal Adams' 1971 Marvel Feature #1 cover, the first appearance of Marvel's 'non-team.'

Gemstone Publishing and the Hero Initiative, the first 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to helping comic book creators in need, have teamed up every year since 2010 for the exclusive limited edition of the Guide.

(Image credit: Gemstome Publishing)

Each year's edition normally debuts at Comic-Con International: San Diego, however, following the cancellation of the show due to COVID-19, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #50 will now debut on Wednesday, September 2, 2020.

The special Hero Initiative edition will be available only in a special hardcover edition only (meaning no softcover) and the $37.50 volume is limited to 500 copies.

The Hero Initiative Edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #50 will be available through Hero’s web store on the Graham Crackers Comics website and from selected Hero-supporting local comic shops. For Canadian mail order, Hero suggests The Dragon.

"Kevin Nowlan’s interpretation of this classic cover and these characters is an instant new classic on its own. As one would expect from a consummate professional with such exquisite line work and superior composition, he hit this one out of the park,” says Steve Geppi, chairman of Geppi Family Enterprises and president of Gemstone Publishing in the announcement. "We’re very happy to feature it as we continue our efforts to support the Hero Initiative."

The standard editions of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #50 feature Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man/Spawn crossover (colored by Brian Haberlin), Valiant’s Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, and Livewire by John K. Snyder III (colored by Jason Wright), and Wynonna Earp by Chris Evenhuis. These editions are available in softcover ($29.95) and hardcover ($37.50).

An oversized limited edition — The Big, Big, Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #50 — features a 50th-anniversary homage to the cover of Overstreet #1 by Mark Huesman. It retails for $49.50.

Past special Overstreet/Hero Initiative covers have been illustrated by John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson, and Dean White (#40); John Romita, Sr., Tom Palmer, and Dean White (#41); Matt Wagner and Ryan Brown (#42); Terry Moore and Brian Miller (#43); Herb Trimpe, Tom Palmer, and Laura Martin (#44); Dave Johnson (#45); Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, and Tanya Horie (#46); Rob Liefeld and Ivan Nunes (#47); Joe Jusko (#48); and Alan Davis (#49).

"I first discussed the idea of a Hero Initiative edition of the Guide with the Hero Initiative president Jim McLauchlin about five years before we were able to make it a reality, but when things came together for The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #40, they did so very quickly," J.C. Vaughn, vice president of Publishing, Gemstone Publishing tells Newsarama. "Ever since then, it’s been a part of the year that we all look forward to very fondly as Hero Initiative is a superb charity that everyone can get behind.

"With this incredible cover, Kevin has joined a 'Murderer's Row' line-up of great artists who have supplied covers for the Hero Initiative of the Guide."

Nowlan calls being asked to draw a Hero Initiative variant cover for The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide "a huge honor in itself," regardless of the subject matter.

"Later, when I found out I’d be drawing a new version of Neal Adams’ beautiful Marvel Feature #1 Defenders cover, my enthusiasm flew off the scale," he said.

"I’m probably not alone in my high regard for the Marvel and DC comics of the early ’70s and Mr. Adams’ work in particular."

Though Nowlan departed from the original on a few details he says the basic elements are all there.

"I didn’t want to do a literal tracing so the changes were probably inevitable," he explains to Newsarama. "Emphasizing and levitating Doctor Strange was one of the first alterations. Adding the red Edsel was one of the last."

"With the disruption in the comics market, and of course throughout the world, it’s been actually sort of stunning to receive so many inquiries about what the Hero edition of the 50th anniversary Guide was going to be," adds McLauchlin. "I think Kevin Nowlan’s cover more than answers that question and will help us raise money so that Hero can continue helping comic book creators in need."

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.