US magazine Rolling Stone's cover featuring Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is just the latest in a series of front pages that have induced apoplexy among readers over the years.

Rolling Stone splashed a picture of Tsarnaev, 19, over the front page with the headline 'The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.'

The decision to use the picture, which was taken by Tsarnaev himself before his arrest, sparked the fury of many readers, who have accused the magazine of anti-Americanism and "glamourising terrorism."

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino accused the magazine of rewarding "a terrorist with celebrity treatment."

In a complaint letter to Rolling Stone's publisher Jann Wenner, Menino said the cover is "ill-conceived, at best, and reaffirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their 'causes'.

"The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them."

"I think whoever wrote the article should have their legs blown off by someone ... and then see who they would choose to put on the cover," said James "Bim" Costello, 30, who suffered injuries in the April 15 bombing.

Rolling Stone defended its cover story, saying it "falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone's long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.

"The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.

"Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and our thoughts are always with them and their families."

No stranger to controversy

Rolling Stone is no stranger to controversy over its choice of cover stars. The iconic rock and current affairs title famously featured Americas' most famous criminal Charles Manson on its front page in June 1970.

The magazine included an interview with the killer and cult leader, and the issue went on to become one of Rolling Stone's biggest sellers of all time. Manson had made the cover of Life magazine a year earlier.

Time magazine named Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin its Man of the Year twice, in 1940 and 1943, while Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Iranian revolution spiritual leader Ayatullah Khomeini won the magazine's cover once each, in 1939 and 1979 respectively.

The influential New York City magazine also dedicated its May 1999 cover story to Columbine High School shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who had killed 12 students and a teacher.

In 1994 the magazine attracted controversy for devoting its cover to an altered mug shot of OJ Simpson - who was accused of murdering his wife - that made his skin tone darker.

More recently radical nationalist monk Saydaw Wirathu, who is accused of orchestrating the genocide of Myanmar Muslims, was portrayed on the cover of Time as 'The Face of Buddhist Terror.'