Beginning in 2015, Marvel Comics' hip-hop-themed variant covers burst onto the scene like NWA bursting into the rap game in the '90s. Variant covers are a long-standing and semi-proud tradition in the comic book world, with both Marvel and DC putting out a few sets each year, but the hip-hop brand marks a moment of particularly smashing success. Meant to reward collectors, variant covers encourage the buying of multiple copies and the completion of sets. Marvel’s hip-hop covers are still being published semi-regularly, even though years have passed since their debut, showing that audiences have responded well to the theme. Fans of the comics enjoy the variety, and fans of the various hip-hop albums that inspired the Marvel covers love the homage.
In seeking inspiration for this run of album cover tributes, Marvel Comics covered the entire gamut of rap and hip-hop history, from the earliest days of the craft to modern talents like 50 Cent and Eminem. Dozens of comic artists lent their hand to the project, and now Marvel is releasing an art book filled of nothing but the covers themselves. Combining the worlds of Marvel superheroes and hip-hop music proves to be a powerful Venn diagram of interest for the publishing company, and the most popular covers don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.