The Best Kelley Jones Batman Covers #4

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This post is continuing my look at the ten best Batman covers of Kelley Jones. After a stint as the cover artist for Detective Comics, and then the Batman title, Jones eventually took over interiors of Batman. These runs, along with some various side projects, constitute on of the most dramatic looks the Dark Knight has ever had.

All of which brings us to today’s entry.

4. Detective Comics #670

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Part of the Knightquest storyline, the follow-up to Knightfall, this issue tells of Batman’s (Jean Paul Valley) confrontation with the recently revived Mr. Freeze.

This cover fascinated me when it came out. I specifically remember studying it for hours. The mysterious/monstrous form of Mr. Freeze, with icicles hanging off of him and steam rising off. The morgue setting with the bodies on display. The very gothic cloak of AzBats wrapping around his frame. All of these aspects lead to creating a very EC Comics inspired cover for this ’90’s Detective Comics cover.

While not as large as Jones’ depiction of Bane, his Freeze is nothing to sneeze at. The wrappings around him give him a mummy-like feel, invoking the character’s resurrection. All of the icicles hanging off of his arms and jaw are like stalactites giving him a more massive impression of his frame. Added with the steam coming off of him, give Freeze a unique look that at the time, I didn’t realize was him.

Setting the scene in a morgue gives it an eerie vibe. This appears to be right up Jones’ alley though. The composition of the drawers placed around the titles and other text on the cover work well and add to the claustrophobic nature. As if everything is piled up on each other here.

The corpse in the foreground is especially gruesome. Stitches along the torso indicate an autopsy, but the most macabre detail is the top of the head. Here, Jones has chopped of the scalp of the figure and it appears to be almost flush with the end of the drawer. While the light from AzBats’ neck piece illuminates the face of the body, drawing attention to it.

Jones did his typical job of giving the replacement Batman costume a unique look while playing to his strengths. Even within the confines of this costume design, he manages to add his signature details to the cape. The heightened shoulders and the talon-like claws give a more monstrous look to this otherwise armor heavy take on Batman.

Various woodcut techniques in the details here add to the old school horror comics tone. From the work of ’50’s EC artists to the more contemporary (and surely huge influences on Jones) work of Bernie Wrightson and Frank Frazetta.

The feeling of claustrophobia and impending danger for Batman is present in this piece. With Freeze’s body cropped off by the shadow of the wall presumably, on the right of the cover and the use of shadow in general help this. Mr. Freeze’s pinhole eyes are fixed right on Batman and he moves towards him. Having Batman cropped off on the left side with the extra negative space on the right give the impression of him being forced off the cover. The presence of the corpses bring a sense of foreboding as this is obviously a place of death.

Horror was clearly the tone that Jones was going for here. Of course, that works superbly with his style and is appropriate for a majority of Batman stories. That’s probably why Jones work seems to be at its best when combined with creepy imagery, something that will be discussed for the remainder of this series.

Next up will start the countdown to the final three covers.

To get caught up on the countdown, check out the previous entries here:

Number 10

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-10/

Number 9

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-9/

Number 8

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-8/

Number 7

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-7/

Number 6

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-6/

Number 5

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-5/

 

 

 

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The Amazing Spider-Man #789

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Today I continue my voyage into the depths of Marvel Legacy with The Amazing Spider-Man #789.

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SPOILERS

The issue number for Amazing is a little “easier” to track since Marvel has reverted and restarted this series so many times. It’s one of the more prominent books to do so over the years. Here, the reason for the change for this title is obvious as we are only 11 issues away from #800. As before, I will not be going into a breakdown of the numbering here, just google it if you’re interested (or you can just check out the list later in the issue).

789 here is written by Dan Slott with art by Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger. Slott has written some good Spidey stories over the years and I have been a fan of Immonen’s since his run on Adventures of Superman. Alex Ross provided the cover for this one.

Inside, we are given a text page getting the reader up to speed. This one is more colorful than the typical “black page with white text” that I seem to get with most of my Marvel picks. I still think that the Daily Bugle style pages were more appropriate to Spider-Man though.

Our tale starts with Peter Parker crashing on Mockingbird’s couch. Apparently he has lost his company, Parker Industries, and the public has turned against him. All of this seems to be the result of events in the book before the “relaunch.” The idea of the citizens of New York turning against Peter Parker, as opposed to Spider-Man is an interesting idea.

After a re-introduction of Harry Osborn and Liz Allen in the book, Peter goes over to the Daily Bugle. Peter demands to know why the paper published the headline “Peter Parker: Threat or Menace?” The title echoes classic ones J. Jonah Jameson used to use against his wall-crawling alter ego. After being chastised by Joe Robertson, Peter realizes the article is warranted, due to his irresponsibility.

Out on the street, Peter is recognized by a crowd that turns into a mob and chases him until he vanishes using his abilities. He then decides not to attend a birthday party for Flash Thompson as he overhears the guests talking about him.

Back at Mockingbird’s place, Peter is moping until she talks him into going out on patrol. They run afoul of the Griffin attacking a food truck. After doing more destruction than was probably necessary, the food truck vendor pleads with Spidey to not use his truck to smash the Griffin with. Mockingbird then tases the villain in the nuts, off-panel.

Back home after the battle, the pair celebrate their victory and proceed to make out! At the bottom of the page is the declaration “To be continued…” I assume they mean the story and not the make-out sesh.

Following the main story, there is another 3 page origin by Robbie Thompson and Mark Bagley. Getting a reader up to speed on Spidey’s history in only 3 pages is a feat. It works well here and we get more Bagley Spider-Man (my fave). Again, the only problem with the recap is that it is at the end of the book instead of at the front where it would be more useful for new readers.

The Marvel Value Stamp that comes with this book is Wolverine. Unlike other recent releases, it appears that there is no bonus digital book that you get with this one. Just this issue only.

This story returns Peter Parker to his hard luck roots and wipes away the industrialist from the previous run. The problem is, I feel like I’ve read this before and probably better. Having people turn on Parker instead of just Spider-Man is a novel concept and heaps the problems onto him. The theme of “legacy” here seems to be about returning the character to his classic version of a blue-collar guy trying to get by and do the right thing.

By doing that though, I feel like we’re not getting anything new. There are countless Spider-Man stories I can read with these themes. So, why should I read this one? The answer is I probably won’t. This will probably be the last issue of Amazing that I pick up for awhile. Until the next reboot anyway.

Check back later as I look at another new Marvel Legacy title.

 

 

Inktober 2017: Week 3

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For this recap of my drawings for Inktober, I am looking at week 3.

DAY 15

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For last Sunday’s drawing I did this. It’s not any particular character and doesn’t follow any specific theme. I had artist’s block on this day and couldn’t really think of anything I wanted to do. So I just started working with the brush and came up with this. There was nothing sketched out first, I just jumped right into it with this. I used to sketch like this a lot in high school and still do sometimes.

DAY 16

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Monday’s theme was “fat.” At first I considered drawing the fat Flash from the old silver age story, but I had just done one of the Flash last week. I approached this similar to the last one, and just started drawing it. Both of these were sort of a palette cleanser about halfway through the month.

DAY 17

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This was the second time I attempted to do this one. When I started working on it the first time, I couldn’t quite get it right. I struggled with getting all of Spider-Man’s figure drawn with the ink wash. The forced perspective of him coming towards Mysterio’s helmet didn’t work out how I wanted. Instead, I should have used a fisheye lens look in the helmet. Also the highlights on the helmet didn’t work like I wanted them. I’m afraid it looks like Spidey’s webs or something. This is one I’ll probably try again later.

DAY 18

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“Filthy” was the theme this day. Pig-Pen cam to mind immediately. After the Charlie Brown drawing from week 2, I wanted to try another Peanuts character. I like how this one came out. Looking back on this, I think I should have added some of the other children in silhouette, enveloped in Pig-Pen’s dust cloud.

DAY 19

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I’ve been reading a lot of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Turtles comics lately. That lead to me wanting to draw Raphael. I sketched out his pose a few times before I settled on this. I really wanted to use the red ink again and think it works really well here. The theme on this day was “cloud”, but I didn’t realize that when I did this one. The cloud over the moon is a happy coincidence.

DAY 20

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It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to draw this day. Eventually, I watches something where someone said the word “savage.” It then occurred to me to depict Randy “Macho Man” Savage. I found a picture of him online like this. The animal prints in his clothes appealed to me since I knew it would be fun to replicate those in the ink. The problem with using old photographic references is that you can only zoom in so far before its just a blur. This makes it difficult to fill in some of the finer details. If I were to do another illustration of him, I would pick a more iconic pose. Probably one where he’s more jacked too. Drawing a lot of tassels could go either way though.

DAY 21

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To finish out the week I drew actress Mara Corday. I was watching Svengoolie on Saturday and they showed Tarantula that she starred in. Online, I found a photo of her in this pose. I like how the drawing came out, with the shading and the white-out. However, I didn’t get her likeness close enough. See above about using old photographs. Also, that’s one of the challenges of the Inktober event, doing a drawing every day. It imposes a deadline for you. If I had more time, I would have worked on it more to get the face closer.

The other side to that is there is always another opportunity to do something tomorrow.

If you want to see the other drawings I have completed for Inktober, the weekly recaps are here:

WEEK 1

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/inktober-2017-week-1/

WEEK 2

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/inktober-2017-week-2/

Venom #155

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Continuing my foray into Marvel Legacy, today I am looking at Venom #155.

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SPOILERS

Starting off is the issue number. I’m not sure what mathematical gymnastics Marvel had to pull off to reach this conclusion, but I know there were a LOT of mini-series in there. Yes, Marvel has posted online about how there numbers break down, but I’m not going to get into that. Others have done that elsewhere.

This issue is written by Mike Costa. The real draw for me here though is artist, Mark Bagley. (SWIDT?) Bagley is my FAVORITE Spider-Man artist. His run on Amazing Spider-Man and his phenomenal work on the it-really-shouldn’t-have-worked-but-it-did Ultimate Spider-Man are some of my favorite comics. While on the art, the book is inked by John Dell, who worked with Kelley Jones. An obvious favorite here.

So putting Bagley on this book really got my attention. As an added enticement, they titled this arc “Lethal Protector.” The character’s first mini-series, Venom: Lethal Protector, has a first issue that I LOVE, also drawn by Mark Bagley. Odds are, I will talk specifically about that issue on here someday, but it made this new issue a must have.

Issue 155 starts off with the standard Marvel text page giving background and listing the credits for this book. Our story starts with some prison inmates looking to pick a fight with Lee Price. Unbeknownst to me, this guy used to have the Venom symbiote. I’ve never heard of this character, and upon looking him up, I recognized that version of Venom. However, I never knew what the situation was with that one.

Keeping with the theme of “legacy” though, it makes sense that this character is here. Also, for long time Venom fans, its good to see that they just aren’t sweeping him under the rug. For someone out there, this is “their” Venom.

We then see Eddie Brock Venom, attacking a thug and corrupt cop in an alleyway, having once again become a “lethal protector.” Apparently, Eddie has been keeping the symbiote at bay, and it lashes out here. Venom yells the line reminiscent of the notorious old action figure “We will eat your brains!”

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At least it’s not as bad as the one that had boobs.

Making a deal with Liz Allen, Brock now has access to a drug that helps him keep the symbiote in check. Later, Brock applies to work at a tabloid style news channel. It’s good to see the character trying to get back to his reporting roots, even if it under the pseudonym, Mr. Sym. (see what they did there?)

After this Brock descends into the sewers, literally. Here he encounters a race of dinosaur people living underground that was mentioned in the opening recap. The dinos have captured and are in the process of roasting a Moloid on a spit. Just as Venom sees this, a horde of Moloids with a giant crocodile monster in tow, attack. Venom is able to defuse the situation and the Moloids depart leaving behind the croc-monster that Venom killed in the assault. Venom and the Dino-Men (wicked band name), then proceed to feast on the creature off-panel.

Up to this point, I was completely on board with this book. Eddie Brock acting as a derange anti-hero is right up my alley. However, I prefer my Venom, and Spider-Man in general, stories to play more at a street level. Dinosaur men fighting Moloids is more a Fantastic Four setup. With the apparent backstory of Venom’s relationship with the sewer dwelling race that will presumably play into this, I will probably not continue to read this. I know there was an underground society in the original Lethal Protector mini, but those were displaced homeless, not anthropomorphic dinos.

The story ends with news of the dinosaur race reaching Kraven the Hunter! He then decides that he is going to hunt them down. Surely this will put him at odds with Venom. And like that, I’m back in! Venom versus Kraven is something I want to see. I didn’t even know Kraven was alive. After the Kraven’s Last Hunt story, where he (SPOILERS) dies, I know they’ve hinted at bringing him back, but I didn’t think they ever had.

Now I’m a few weeks behind with the Marvel Legacy books, so the next issue of this has come out this week.  Apparently, a bi-weekly schedule is something else Marvel has lifted from DC Rebirth. Mark Bagley’s speed as an artist means that he is also drawing this issue too! If he can maintain this for a while, as he did on Ultimate Spider-Man, this could be a nice run uninterrupted by fill-in artists.

Another notable thing about this issue is a 3 page afterword that details the origin of Venom. This is written by Robbie Thompson and drawn by Bagley and Dell. I really enjoyed this. DC did something similar to this years ago, and they were very effective. Especially for me since I don’t read too many Marvel books, this is a good way to get up to speed.

The only thing I didn’t like about the origin recap, was where it fell in the book. Why after the story? Shouldn’t it have been placed at the opening, perhaps in place of the text page? Get me up to speed before I read the issue. I understand that Thompson is doing these for the other Marvel Legacy books, and I look forward to seeing them across the line.

This book also comes with a Marvel Value Stamp of the Human Torch. It is number 13 of 53. So, the digital redemption code for this issue also gives you a mystery remasterd Value Stamp from the ’70’s. I had thought that the digital aspect of the stamps would give you the stamp from the issue. Thus ensuring collectors that they wouldn’t have to damage their comics. What was I thinking? Of course, they want you to tear up your book, so you have to buy another copy.

All in all, I enjoyed this issue and will be picking up the next one. Hopefully, all of the Marvel Legacy books will be as good as this one.

Check back next week as I hope to continue looking at other Marvel Legacy titles. The plan is to do one a week if everything works out. However, I may have to double or triple-up for the next couple weeks to get up to speed. The goal is to post these after the books come out, but not this late.

Marvel Legacy #1

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Marvel Comics recently started the publishing initiative, Legacy, and today I am looking at the book that kicked it off, Marvel Legacy #1.

SPOILERS

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This special is written by Jason Aaron, and drawn by a plethora of artists.

With the new era of Marvel Legacy, this issue is supposed to be ground zero for the Marvel Universe for some time to come. Now, I don’t read much Marvel, but I figured something in here would relate to stories I will read later on. In the interest of being an informed reader, I decided to pick it up.

The tale starts off with a group that is being called the Avengers of One Million B.C.

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In keeping with the theme of “legacy”, this group is composed of ancient predecessors for modern-day characters. Odin, standing in for his son Thor, and analogues/ancestors for Iron Fist, Star Brand, Phoenix, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Ghost Rider. Surrounded by primitive man, these heroes protect the Earth. Specifically, as we find a few pages in, from a Celestial.

CELESTIAL

I’ve always like the alien look Kirby gave the Celestials and am pleased to see that carry on with newer iterations of the characters.

Next up we find current Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes, awakening in South Africa with no idea how he got there. Apparently, Reyes has been dreaming of these prehistoric Avengers. Reyes is confronted by Star Brand who seems intent on killing him to counter a greater threat.

This is the first “whaaaaat???” I encountered while reading this issue. As far as I knew, Star Brand was just a part of the New Universe books of the ’80’s and was separate from the main Marvel universe. I am aware that Warren Ellis had a critically acclaimed run with the New Universe characters a few years ago, and am presuming something changed during that.

The story then cuts to Loki goading a group of Frost Giants to steal a container from a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. installation for him. S.H.I.E.L.D. is shutting down (???) and the military is here to collect the contents of the warehouse. While discussing the packages, they mention that one of the crates is not on any manifest and no one knows what is in it. Surprise, this is the crate that Loki has tasked the Frost Giants to retrieve!

“4 1939” is the designated code on the crate in question. I feel that this is an easter egg in the story, but I’m not exactly sure what it means. Marvel Comics started in 1939, so that’s surely part of it. However, Marvel Comic number 1 premiered in October of that year, not April, so I’m not sure what the significance of the “4” is.

Once the Frost Giants attack the base, Sam Wilson Captain America, Jane Foster Thor, and Ironheart show up to save the day. These are all the current incarnations of those particular heroes. Again, continuing with the theme of legacy, but let’s be honest, these characters days in their counterparts’ shoes are numbered.

There are some interludes during the fight. First off, is Steve Rogers chilling out in a diner, watching the news. Here we are given our first look at Chris Samnee’s Cap run with Mark Waid. This is one of the books I am looking forward to coming out of Legacy.

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Next up is a foreboding page about Asgard and Thor, and a page about Tony Stark seemingly awakening from a coma. (???)

The tale then cuts back to Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider duking it out with Star Brand, already in progress. Their fight stumbles across an archaeological site. (FORESHADOWIIIIING!)

We then get one page cuts checking in on Deadpool, Dr. Strange and Iron Fist, and Jarvis at Avengers Mansion.

Now, back to the fight at the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound. Our heroes save the day and defeat all of the Frost Giants. Except for the one that escapes with the mysterious “4 1939” box.

Then we get a page of what is another thing I am excited about with Marvel Legacy.

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Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm! Soon to be co-starring in the relaunched Marvel Two-in-One title. Presumably, they are no longer on Marvel’s blacklist and we will see a return of Marvel’s First Family shortly.

After this is a page that I’m not sure how to feel about.

WAKANDA

Apparently they are introducing an extraterrestrial aspect to Wakanda. This could be interesting, but I don’t agree with the concept of Wakanda’s achievements being the result of anything other than the people of Wakanda. Presumably, they are suggesting that their accomplishments are the result of alien technology.

It’s my hope that like 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers, this is instead a look into the future for Wakanda. That their nation has prospered so much that they have expanded to other worlds. I think story-wise you get a lot more out of this concept.

Just please promise me that Marvel is aware enough to not suggest a “black people are from outer space” concept with this.

We get a page of an outer space monitoring station that precludes a return for some part of the Planet Hulk story.

Then we are back to the Ghost Rider/Star Brand fight. Ghost Rider obliterates Star Brand which opens up a hole into where the archaeologists were digging. Once Reyes departs, they go down into the cavern. Here the archaeologists find the Celestial from the beginning of the issue, and their final fate. On the cave wall we see drawings representing the ancient Avengers from before.

Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, the heroes are wrapping things up and the Frost Giant is making good his escape. That is until he is hit by a beer truck. The giant confronts the driver whose face is obscured but is wearing a familiar hat and wifebeater. This mysterious stranger also attack the Frost Giant with claws that come out of his hand!

Cut to Jean Grey looking at Wolverine’s final resting place where the adamantium he had been encased in is now split open and empty.

Here is one of the highlights of this story. The mysterious stranger, having defeated the giant, cracks open a cold one and gives us one of the most innovative uses of the Frost Giant’s abilities.

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He then opens up the mcguffin of this tale, the mysterious container from S.H.I.E.L.D.  On the following page we see the stranger and item revealed.

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I really hope that this is not the last we see of this. Wolverine, returned from the dead, wielding an Infinity gem. While he will presumably turn it over to someone in authority, that will be booooooriing. How about instead, let Logan discover what has changed while he has been gone? Maybe there are some things he decides need to change. Possibly, this will tie into the upcoming Phoenix Resurrection story about the return of Jean Grey. Fingers crossed, they don’t let this great concept just slide away.

The story closes with Loki coming across the Celestial, a quick check-in with the heroes in this story, and another hint at the return of the Fantastic Four.

The rest of the issue contains info about Marvel Legacy books to come. Also, the return of Marvel Value Stamps. Be sure to clip them out to upset comic book collectors of the future. Let’s continue the cycle of disappointment started by our predecessors from the ’70’s. How’s that for a legacy?

At the end of the book is a checklist for Marvel Legacy titles.

LEGACY

A literal checklist. I can see listing the titles, but why put the boxes next to them? If they’re concerned collectors won’t want to rip out stamps, who do they think is going to check off boxes?

All in all, this is a good book that I’m glad I picked up. One thing that really stood out to me with this is its familiarity to DC’s Rebirth special that they released last year. My review of which starts here: https://detective651.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/dc-universe-rebirth-part-one-west-side-is-the-best-side/

It reminds me of it in that there is a focus on reinstating the classic versions of the characters, and setting up stories for the foreseeable future. There is also the return of a dead, fan-favorite character. Also, I really like the issue. Not as much as I did Rebirth, but well enough that I want to look into some of these books.

That’s another thing it has in common with DC Rebirth, the problems. Where do I go from here? There’s even a checklist, but I don’t know where the stories I want to read are heading to. Surely, Loki and the Celestial is part of something bigger, but where does that go?

I was part of a discussion where the similarities to this book and DC’s counterpart came up. On the second episode of the Campus Comics Cast, we talk about the new installment of Previews catalog and another participant and I brought this topic up. It is available to listen to here if you would like to: http://www.burgcomics.com/

There’s a lot of interesting concepts being thrown around here, but will I have to scramble to get pricey back issues once it becomes clear what I want? I have been apprehensive to get into a Marvel crossover since the disappointing Age of Ultron. Hopefully Marvel doesn’t miss the opportunity of bringing in new readers.

The Best Kelley Jones Batman Covers #5

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Today’s post is continuing my look at the ten best Batman covers of Kelley Jones. After a stint as the cover artist for Detective Comics, and then the Batman title, Jones eventually took over interiors of Batman. These runs, along with some various side projects, constitute on of the most dramatic looks the Dark Knight has ever had.

If you’ve missed the previous entries on the countdown, here they are for your convenience.

Number 10

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-10/

Number 9

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-9/

Number 8

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-8/

Number 7

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-7/

Number 6

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-6/

Which brings us to today’s entry.

5. Batman #532

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Even though most of the covers on this list are from the ’90’s, this is the sole gimmick cover featured. Part of a 3 part storyline where Batman teams up with the ghostly Deadman, this cover had glow-in-the-dark ink printed on it.

Unlike most glow-in-the-dark covers of the time, this one didn’t merely enhance a certain aspect of the cover. Instead, here the effect is used to show Deadman, who is usually invisible to the living in his stories. This leads to a gimmick where we are almost given a second cover. The effect wasn’t just limited to the illustration, as Deadman’s logo is visible over Batman’s on the title.

While there have been an endless amount of gimmicks produced for comic covers, this one is probably the most appropriate for Jones’ work. It also works well with the story and how it is used to portray Deadman. Seeing Jones’ art in these glow-in-the-dark figures is a unique experience to the covers of this storyline.

The other 2 parts of this tale also featured glow-in-the-dark covers, and all had regular price alternates that featured no effect. Over the course of these 3 issues, there were 6 different covers produced by Jones. If you include the glow-in-the-dark illustrations as separate pieces, as the work to make them was probably proportionate to that, in a sense there were 9 covers produced by Jones for the 3 issues.

I chose this one for number 5 on the list, because it is the best glow-in-the-dark one made. With Batman atop the totem pole, his cape swirling down around it. This is another example of Jones seemingly laying out the cape and then adding an extra section of it below. If you look at the top portion of the cape on its own, this looks a typical size of Batman’s cape at the time. Now looking at the lower portion, wrapping around the totem pole and flaring off to the right, this seems disjointed from the rest of the cape. It makes a nice effect of Batman’s cape enveloping his environment, but minimal effort has been put into attaching it to the upper portion of the cape.

I have never heard Jones speak on this, but I have never seen another artist depict the cape in this manner. Unless there was a multiple-layer aspect to the cape, which was not in continuity for the character at this time, and was not consistent throughout Jones’ work. There are many aspects of Jones’ details that fluctuate over his run, sometimes within the same issue, but it usually just makes the art more interesting to look at. None of these usually lead to a lessening the art.

Here Jones seems to be having fun with statues and stone work in the illustration. The totem pole that Batman is on, features several different patterns going down the length of it, not just a couple repeating designs throughout. Above Batman and next to the stairs we see the disjointed bricks in various layouts that would be maddening in real life, but are a hallmark of Jones’ work.

Of course, on top of all this, is Jones’ rendering of Deadman surrounded by ghouls. The way this was produced appears that the black shadows that he drew were used to create where the glow-in-the-dark would go. This leads to a “negative” look for the ghosts. On another illustration, this would look like a mistake, but here is adds to the unsettling nature of the spirits.

In the background we have what seems to be a setting sun. Presumably, this is all the work of the colorist for this one. It compliments the blue of Batman’s costume nicely and helps make for a cover that stands out in the light, not just the dark.

While there were other cover “gimmicks” produced over the run of Jones’ Batman, none meshed with his unique look as well as the glow-in-the-dark ones. Chromium and embossed covers just couldn’t capture the depth in his style. Plus, you can’t have Batman melding into the shadows when he’s stamped in foil.

Now that we have only four left to go, be sure to come back for the next best Batman cover by Kelley Jones!

 

Inktober 2017: Week 2

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This year I am again participating in Inktober, where the goal is to do a drawing everyday for the month of October. So far I have been able to keep up with doing one drawing every day in real-time. Here are my drawings for the second week of the challenge.

DAY 8

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The theme for Day 8 was “crooked” and I can’t think of anyone more crooked than the Joker. I wanted to use red ink in the picture, for his lips. Then I decided the shot should be from Batman’s point of view and there could also be red blood as he beats the crap out of the Joker. I feel like this one turned out pretty much how I wanted it to.

DAY 9

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For Monday, I wanted to follow-up the Joker with Venom. I really just wanted a stark, black and white depiction here. No shades of gray with an inkwash. I wanted him to have a slicker look.
DAY 10

 

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“Gigantic” was the theme for Day 10. Therefore, I decided to draw giant actor, Rondo Hatton. While this is based on a photo of him, I tried to steer it in the direction of the characters he played. Specifically, his role in The Brute Man. For this I felt the inkwash was necessary to emulate the look of the black and white films he starred in.

DAY 11

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For the theme of “run” for Day 11 I thought I would do a version of the Flash. Originally, I envisioned multiple after images of Flash with him kneeling in the foreground. In my head, it was more of a “inspecting a crime scene” pose, but morphed into more of a “rap album cover” pose. While I don’t have a problem with that, I should have leaned into it more if that was what I was going to do.

I drew this late that night after I had recorded a podcast. What I had planned for this would take more time than I had that night and I think it shows. Maybe later I will revisit this one.

DAY 12

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After seeing multiple artists’ versions of Two-Face earlier in the month, I wanted to draw him too. I tried to picture how he could be posed and thought of him looking at his coin. I then realized that the side of the coin could be splitting his down the middle.

I drew the normal side of his face with markers that are easier to control, and the scarred side with brushes to get a looser look to it. For the shading on his fingers I used conte crayon which I thing works well with ink.

If you examine this drawing you will realize that Two-Face’s face could not be depicted this way literally as it would be stretched out. With the size of the coin in the front, I would have had to draw him with no nose, which would have looked weird. So, I chose to use some artistic license on this one and I’m pleased with how it came out.

 

DAY 13

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On Friday, I watched the movie Hand of Death starring John Agar. Paula Raymond was his costar in this and so I chose to draw her for this day. I haven’t seen her in anything before but thought I could draw her reasonably well. I also realized I hadn’t drawn any women yet for Inktober so I thought this would be a good opportunity to.

 

DAY 14

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To finish out the second week I drew Charlie Brown. With the news of the California wildfires wiping out Charles Schulz’s house and the museum being evacuated, the character has been on my mind lately. Also, I had picked up a Charlie Brown Funko Pop that day.

I did not strictly stick to Schulz’s model of Charlie Brown. I wanted to do my version of him and knew brushes would be the way to go. I reasoned it would be a good way to get the loose look of the characters that Schulz had.

That’s my drawings for the second week of Inktober 2017. Check back next time as I post a recap of what I did for the third week. Fingers crossed that I can keep up and not miss a day. Another reminder, if you want to see these drawings as I do them daily be sure to check out my Twitter account @detective651.

Thanks for reading.,

We’ve Got Movie Sign!- Future War

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Welcome to the latest installment of We’ve Got Movie Sign! Continuing my reviews of my all time favorite t.v. show: Mystery Science Theater 3000! As before this one is very accessible (figuratively, and literally as it is currently available on Netflix).

SPOILERS

Future War -Episode 1004

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This movie is at the center of a very 90’s movie Venn diagram.

Era: Sci-Fi Channel

Host: Mike Nelson

Bots: Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Gypsy

Special Guest Villains: Pearl Forrester, Professor Bobo, Brain Guy

Summary: A Jean Claude Van Damme knockoff (or kickoff?), credited only as “Runaway”, travels to Earth from outer space from a presumably harsh existence as a slave. Once here, he is found by an ex-prostitute turned nun, Sister Ann. Along with a ragtag group of husky guys and gang members they fight off a couple of cyborgs and a pack of puppets dinosaurs who are intent on retrieving our “hero.” The local LAPD gets involved, in what probably wasn’t their craziest day back then. There also seems to be an underlying theme of “boxes”.

Host Highlights: Opening where the bots are trying to determine how many “times a lady” Gypsy is. Turns out Mike is 8x a lady. Pearl is conducting “secret” LSD tests that lead to Brain Guy burning his guitar Jimmy Hendrix style. Later, Mike and the bots thank Pearl for never killing them as she is launching a missile to do just that.

Best Riff: “Is this a halfway house for huge guys?” – Tom Servo.  Hilarious line that is also what the audience is wondering at this time in the movie.

Overall, the Sci-Fi Channel years are a good time for the jokes. By this, the tenth season, everyone involved knew what they were doing and the pace had really picked up. Not sure if the crew knew that this would be their last season, but here they are making the most of it.

Call Backs: “3 days away from retirement.” and “PACKERS!” Not necessarily callbacks to previous jokes, but ones that MSTies would surely recognize from previous episodes.

Memorable Movie Quotes: “Eeeh. Eeeh. EEEEEEHHH.” -Runaway’s attempts at communication.

“Yeah, I…knew a few pimps in my time.” – Sister Ann alluding to her sketchy past before she found the Lord.

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Boxfighter!

MST Musings: Oh, boy. For a good episode, this is a crap movie. It’s either really hard or too easy to explain what is going on in this movie. Again, the Sci-Fi episodes were usually pretty good just due to the experience they had by this point.

At one point, the creators of the show said that they ran into several late ’80’s and early ’90’s movies that had protracted opening credits sequences. Looking back, this was probably a cheap way for filmmakers to give their movies a more “important” feel and to pad out their runtimes. It is a recurring theme in movies subjected to MST3K and it seems like the writers were getting sick of it by this time. You wouldn’t know it from the quality of the jokes though, they are good throughout. “This is what happens when you deregulate credits.”

At one point in the story, Sister Ann enlists the help of some gang members she knows from her previous life. To explain to the gang bangers about the dinosaurs from outer space based threat they are facing, she tells them there are “Monsters in the Hood.” Now, I’m not a screenwriter, but surely there’s a rule about not invoking a better movie idea in your crappy movie. Monsters in the Hood sounds like a great movie that I now want to see. Maybe the Universal-type classic monsters facing off against a scrappy street gang on their home turf. We got two “Leprechaun in the Hood” movies, so don’t act like this can’t happen.

Future War reeks of the “straight-to-video” trend of the 1990’s. What was surprising though, was the apparent lack of a sequel. This movie was obviously made on a shoestring, so you would think if it made ANY money, they would have made another one. As far as I can tell there never was a Future War 2: Boxing Day, but honestly, I didn’t look too deep either.

Good Thing: Genre super-fan, Forrest J. Ackerman somehow has a cameo in this. Someone on the crew had to know him and he did them this favor. Ackerman coined the term “sci-fi” back in the day. It’s sad to think how he was on the Sci-Fi Channel just a few years before they suffered a brain injury and re-branded as Syfy.

Bad Thing: Robert Z’Dar’s not even Dollar Store, but more like Junk-store-out-on-Route 4-that’s-only-open-on-Thursdays-and-Saturdays knockoff Borg costume. Z’No is right.

Final Score:

Print

4 out of 5 Tom Servos

4 OUT OF 5 WE LIKE IT VERY MUCH

You’ve Got Movie Sign: If you are interested in viewing this episode Shout Factory released this as part of the MST3K 20th Anniversary dvd set back in 2008.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it is available on the new home of MST3K, Netflix, as of this writing.

It is available for purchase on vhx.tv. If you supported the MST Kickstarter and received digital rewards, you will be familiar with this site.

Amazon video also has this episode for purchase or to rent.

Stinger: His shirt fell off, honest.

Top 5 Steve Vance MST3K Covers

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Today I am discussing the work of artist Steve Vance. Specifically, Vance’s work on Shout Factory’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD cases. With the series of MST3K DVDs coming to an end with the next set, I thought it would be a good time to examine this aspect of MST3K.

Originally, I knew of Vance’s work from Bongo’s line of Simpsons comic books. I remember seeing his name credited all the time on those. When I saw he was doing these DVD covers, it was notable to see his own artistic style, not emulating the Simpsons look.

REVIVAL

Bonus: Poster/Shirt Vance did for the Kickstarter campaign.

Vance has done dozens of these covers since Shout has been releasing the series. Unfortunately, that also means that there are no covers by him for the previous Rhino releases, unless Shout has re-issued it with a new cover. The number of covers he has created means that there are many to consider for this. That’s why I have selected the 5 that I think are his best.

If you disagree with my selections below, or if I left out your favorite, relax, it’s just a TV show.

5. War of the Colossal Beast

WARBEAST

Here is a great cover where the tables are turned on Tom Servo and Crow. Here Tom is the menacing giant. not the small fry on the Satellite of Love. The majority of these covers place Tom and Crow in the roles of characters in the movies. I’ve always assumed this is to avoid likeness rights with the actors or other legal entanglements. Either way, it is a great solution and a nice way to tie in the cast of MST3K with the movie on the episode. Tom’s cracked dome is a great reference to the title characters’ facial deformities in this.

4. Gamera

GAMERA

Anyone who is a fan of MST3K knows that Gamera is a highlight of the show’s run. While this is a great episode, this is also a great cover. Continuing the theme of incorporating the bots into the movie, here they are re-purposed as the child protagonist and scientist from the story. Tom as a child is interesting, as original host, Joel, had a fatherly relationship with his creations. This feels like it just reinforces those themes here.

3. The Pumaman

PUMAMAN

Another key episode from the show’s original run, this time from the Sci-Fi Channel era. Pumaman is a fan favorite, and one that it took years to finally get a release on DVD. These factors surely play into why I like this cover. However, Servo as Donald Pleasence, and Crow T. Robot as the titular hero, The Pumaman are also BIG factors.

Seeing how Vance solved the problem of Crow wearing human clothes is notable. His frame wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to mimicking a human shape. The best example of this would be when Crow donned the identity of Turkey Volume Guessing Man in the Riding With Death episode.

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Obviously Vance chose another solution as seen above. While his TVGM costume is how clothing would fit onto Crow, Vance’s version is more relatable. It’s also possible that the Pumaman costume adapted to Crow’s body would look too awkward and the reference might be lost on viewers.

2. Laserblast

LASERBLAST

Laserblast was the last episode to premier on Comedy Central’s initial run of the show, and at the time, thought to be the last episode ever. Of course, that is not the case as the show was later picked up by the then Sci-Fi Channel, and more recently, Netflix. It’s also a hilarious episode. As I surmised in my review of Sidehackers, I think that the team worked well under pressure and knew when they had to hit it out of the park.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/weve-got-movie-sign-the-sidehackers/

I believe that’s what happened with Laserblast, as everyone thought it was the end.

Here Vance selects Crow for the film’s “hero”, Billy. Tom is one of the number of victims, presumably. What stands out from the other cases that put the robots into roles from the movie, is the lack of wardrobe. Tom is Tom as he appears on the show. Meanwhile, Crow looks like he just picked up the weapon from the movie and is attacking Tom while the turtle alien’s Gillette spaceship is on the way to stop him. This gives the cover a more whimsical, mischievous tone than many of the others.

1. Devil Doll

DEVIL DOLL

This is a good episode from the Sci-Fi Channel run, but not one of the best episodes ever. I’ve really liked this cover since it came out and it has sort of eluded me why. Steve Vance’s art is great here. The slick look to the bots in their suits is part of it. Recently though, I think I discovered what I like so much about this one.

The movie is about a ventriloquist and his evil dummy. Here Crow is presented as the ventriloquist with Tom on his knee in the part of the dummy. Tom Servo, a literal real world puppet, is playing a dummy. I think that the meta context of this creeped up on me and it took me awhile to realize it. Being honest, when I’m watching the show, I don’t think of the bots as “puppets”, just characters like the other actors. Don’t look at me like that, you do the same thing with the Muppets, and they are literally puppets with an “M”.

With Shout wrapping up the DVD box sets of the show, it is likely that we will not see too many more of these great pieces from Steve Vance. Presumably, when they release re-issues or new DVDs, Vance will be providing the cover art.

Here’s hoping that we see more of these fun designs from Vance in the not too distant future.

 

Inktober 2017: Week 1

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Once again, this year I am participating in Inktober, where the goal is to do a drawing everyday for the month of October. So far I have been able to keep up with doing one drawing every day in real-time. Here are this first week’s drawings.

DAY 1

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To start off, I decided to do a drawing of the Rebirth version of Batman. Originally, I had decided to do a depiction of this version for Batman Day. However, as I discussed here

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/batman-day-week-part-5-the-bat-drawing/

I changed my mind after Adam West passed earlier this year.  Instead I chose to draw this version for Inktober and get it out of my system.

I’m not thrilled with the way this turned out. It feels stiff and poorly planned out to me now. Looking ahead, the theme for the final day is “mask”, so I may revisit this on the last day of the challenge. Time will tell.

DAY 2

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This was a sketch I did last Monday night. I couldn’t really think of anything and just started drawing this. It evolved as I went and turned into this. I decided to call this character Hothead.

DAY 3

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For this one I wanted to do a more traditional Clayface drawing. I’ve always like the flowing, runny look of the character and tried to emulate this here. This also lead me to using an inkwash on this piece. I loved the results it gave me and am now using it on other drawings this month. Watered down ink is something I have used before, mostly influenced by Tim Sale’s work, but I didn’t think I would have time for it due to the speed of which I have to crank these out to meet the daily deadline.  The results I got with this convinced me that it is worth the extra time.

DAY 4

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The theme of this day was “Underwater.” I don’t feel the need to be tied down to the prompts, but I decided to go with this one to do an Aquaman piece. Here I went all in on the inkwash to try to give it a murkier feel. Also, while I have used white out in drawings before, I have never used it to this extent. I am really happy with the effect it gave me here and am continuing to use it.

DAY 5

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For this day, I elected to do a drawing of henchman superstar, Jaws. That day was also Global James Bond Day as it was the anniversary of the premier of Dr. No, the first James Bond movie in 1962. I considered doing several James Bond themed pieces, but finally decided to do Jaws. For most of the day, I assumed I would draw Oddjob, and worked out several compositions in my head. Later on though, I chose Jaws due to my love of Richard Kiel and his signature grill.

DAY 6

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“Sword” was the theme for this day, so I decided to do my favorite sword-wielding character, He-Man. Having him stare down a battlefield with Skeletor reflected in his power sword was an idea I had awhile back but struggled to get the composition right. I couldn’t think of a better time to do this one though, so I worked it out. Online, this is the one that has had the best response from people, so I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.

DAY 7

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The final installment for the first week I drew a scene from the movie Duel. This is a movie I hadn’t seen before but had been interested in. Last Saturday night, Svengoolie on his show, broadcast this movie. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I tweet during the show and am a big fan. I had thought to do a drawing centered around the Svengoolie show that day. Since they showed a movie I had been wanting to see, I picked this as the subject of that day’s piece.

Well, that’s it for the first week of Inktober 2017. Check back later as I post other drawings I do for the month. Fingers crossed that I can keep up and not miss a day. You can also check out my drawings as I post them daily on my Twitter @detective651.

Thanks for reading.