Empire magazine has just released a sneak peek at their special edition May 2018 issue with seven – yes, seven – variant covers! The covers feature many of our Marvel favorites as they prepare for Avengers: Infinity War, coming to theaters on April 27. One striking element of the six newsstand covers? Each one not-so-subtly highlights one of the gems in the Infinity Gauntlet! The seventh cover is a subscriber exclusive and it is gorgeous! Inside the magazine itself are exclusive pictures from both Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, which releases on July 6, 2018. See all the covers below!
Bundled with the monthly magazine is a bonus comic-book sized booklet full of MCU history of the past ten years of Marvel film. Empire goes all the way back to Iron Man‘s release in 2008 to provide a refresher on the 18 films (including this year’s Black Panther) that have led to Avengers: Infinity War. Inside the comic-book style cover (because, what else would it be?), there are rankings of the 50 Greatest MCU Moments and behind the scenes stories included, as well.
The first cover has a fractal background in shades of green, mimicking the Time Stone. The Time Stone is inside the Eye of Agamotto, which Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) wears, however Doctor Strange is not featured on this cover! Instead, there is a blonde Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), a bearded Captain America (Chris Evans) with a new shield and muted uniform, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) in a more sleek exoskeleton, and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) wearing her blasters and ceremonial face paint, all four ready for battle.
The second cover has a fractal background in shades of blue, representing the Space Stone. The Space Stone was once inside the Tesseract, the fate of which is in the ending of Thor: Ragnarok (seriously, go and watch that; I’m doing my best to be spoiler-free here!). It is here, on this cover, that we find Doctor Strange standing in front of Drax (Dave Bautista), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Okoye is the only character here that may be armed, but with her in the rear, there’s no way to know if she has her spear or any other weapon in hand. Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto has been activated, though, so trouble is definitely close at hand.
The third cover has a fractal background in shades of purple, the same glow as the Power Stone. The Power Stone was the subject of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which was left on Xandar for safe keeping (but it was subsequently stolen). Interestingly, the only character from Guardians on this cover is Nebula (Karen Gillan), and she looks as angry as ever. She is joined on the cover by MCU newcomer Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Captain America’s childhood friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and War Machine (Don Cheadle), who appears to be somewhat recovered from his last appearance on screen and has come out of retirement.
The fourth cover has a fractal background in shades of red, evoking the Reality Stone. The Reality Stone was first seen in Thor: The Dark World and last left with The Collector (Benicio Del Toro). The Collector is not featured on this cover, but two of his associates are: Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Rocket looks ready to bite someone and Groot looks lost in his own teen angst. Also from the Guardians is Mantis (Pom Klementieff) with a curious look about her; she can be hard to read, though, with her ability for deception hidden in her timid demeanor, so it is probably best to avoid that outstretched arm. The most prominent character on the cover is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), sporting his newly shorn hairstyle and eye patch, fresh off the tail end of Thor: Ragnarok (which may explain the Guardians surrounding him). Floating in the background is Vision (Paul Bettany), a cybernetic being given a life of his own with the Mind Stone.
The fifth cover has a fractal background in shades of yellow and orange, just like the Mind Stone. The Mind Stone resides in Vision’s forehead, and he is already listed on another cover. Is there a reason for the game of musical covers over at Empire? This cover seems more crowded thanks to the presence of Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who crouches behind Guardians‘ Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and the young Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Hanging out behind Hulk (probably at what he judges a safe distance) is Captain America’s buddy, Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
The final cover has a fractal background in shades of gold, which isn’t an Infinity Stone color – it is instead, the Infinity Gauntlet color! The Soul Stone has yet to make an appearance, so its MCU color is unknown. There is even a fan rumor that the Soul Stone doesn’t even appear in Avengers: Infinity War, but instead will finally show up in the sequel. Either way, the Gauntlet itself is just as much a character in Avengers: Infinity War as any of the heroes. The Gauntlet holds power and allows its bearer to wield the six stones as a single weapon. Unfortunately, Thanos (Josh Brolin) possesses it. He also takes center stage of the sixth cover, his hand wearing the gauntlet, clenched in a victorious pose with the Space Stone and the Power Stone already set. His face shows his determination to acquire the remaining stones.
Subscriber Exclusive Cover
The subscriber exclusive cover is only available to those that subscribe to the magazine (if you sign up now, you are not guaranteed this cover for May). This cover, designed by Orlando Arocena, just screams 1980s. Thanos is full of power with the Infinity Gauntlet set with every single Infinity Stone. The colors are just so vibrant and the art just so well done, that this cover would make a fantastic poster on any wall. While gorgeous, this special cover is a future the Avengers need to prevent; it would mean the end of at least half of the universe.
Though the bonus cover shown here isn’t the May magazine issue, it is part of the May Empire bundle: it is the comic-book sized MCU special included. The fun throwback style cover elicits that happy joy feeling of the MCU’s comic-book beginnings with its bright and simplistic color choices and bold fonts. Real comic-book or not, visually, it makes me want a copy just to hold that childhood joy once more.
Which cover is your favorite? Will you try to grab all six newsstand variants?
Avengers: Infinity War comes to theaters on April 27, 2018.