DC has by now released the Jim Lee and George Perez covers for issue 1 of Infinite Crisis. I thought it'd be fun to put them head-to-head with one another, and analyze which one is better and why. I might do this from month-to-month for the entire series.
First, let's show our contenders. The Lee cover:
And the Perez cover:
Right away, we can see that both men either chose or were given the same assignment: Allude to the events of the four lead-in minseries, and demonstrate that the "Trinity" of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman is split. It's interesting that they each chose a backdropped threat to surround/hang over the heroes. The "Sword of Damocles" imagery is a good effect, stating subtly that the worst is still yet to come.
That being said, Perez's cover definitely gives the buyer more bang for the buck. The addition of the Trinity's respective "families" to the image adds to the division, but also hints to those in the know at possible reconciliation. Rann-Thanagar War and Villains United get more of a presence, and the draping covers more of the image overall. The use of crows or ravens or whatever inside the Spectre's cloak makes his image more haunting somehow. Oddly enough, this cover, while more loaded with imagery (and just what is that city next to the Bat-folks? Gotham? Why is it important in this context?), leaves a better opening for the series title. Once "Infinite Crisis" is laid on top, how are we going to see all those OMACs on the Lee cover?
Not that Lee's cover is without its good points. Wonder Woman holding the sword suggests her role in the story better (she's gonna kick some ass). He avoids the eyes on the OMACs' chests, which just look silly, and his snarling Cheetah is more menacing. But his composition suffers horribly. Aside from the problem at the top, look at the exploding spaceship. Below it, you have Green Lantern and Hawkgirl flying... up. Nowhere in particular, just up. Contrast with the Perez cover, where Lantern, the Hawks, and Adam Strange are flying away from the explosion behind Superman's head. The combination of motion and a clear direction make it a more powerful image. The Spectre is just a face and a hint of cloak, no telling what he is or why he's important; that could just as easily be Darkseid, for all I can tell from the image. The Villains look suitably badass, and Light and Deathstroke are solid choices, but why Cheetah? As a Wonder Woman villain? If that's so, Lex Luthor would have made a better choice than Dr. Light to complete the second Trinity.
And what are Batman and Superman doing, other than looking at other in... what the hell is that expression, anyway? Superman looks like he's waiting for Batman to make a move (possibly for Wonder Woman's ass?), and Batman looks like he's about to take his ball and go home. And why are all three of them posing in that half-crouch?
Ay, there's the rub: Posing. Everyone on the Lee cover (with the exception of that poor ship) looks like he or she was lined up and told to hold still while Lee snapped the picture. It's several elements, but not a whole. The divorce of the heroes from the villains also hurts the piece, as it lacks immediacy. Ultimately, this is a cover where nothing much is happening. That damn ship has to carry the whole thing, and now that I think of it, the logo will probably cover it as well.
My verdict is that Perez made the better cover, not just subjectively, but objectively. The score as of now stands at Perez-1, Lee-0.