Today I am continuing my look at the best Batman covers of artist Kelley Jones. Jones started as a cover artist on Detective Comics and then Batman and eventually to the interior artist of Batman. These books along with some other various side projects constitute one of the most dramatic looks for the Dark Knight ever.
It’s been a few weeks since I posted one of these, so if you want to get caught up here are the previous entries.
And that brings us to today’s entry.
This is probably Jones’ most recognizable cover from his Batman run due to the events within. If you haven’t guessed from the cover, this is part of the Knightfall storyline where Batman gets his back broken by Bane.
Here Jones portrays Bane with a truly monstrous physique. While this wouldn’t be the biggest that he would depict Bane, it is the first instance where he shows him being this much larger than the Batman. The enormous size of Bane evokes the threat he is and the danger he brings to the story. With the buildup of Batman’s physical prowess over decades, the villain needed to be built up to show how he could dominate the protagonist so fully.
The attack here is also well-defined. Bane has crushed Batman to the point where his leg and Batman’s back are apparently melding together. A lack of delineation with the coloring adds to this. You can feel the force of the strike as Batman’s body conforms around Bane’s knee. On Batman’s face his anguish is clearly visible along with his twisting hands. The pain of the act is palpable.
Behind them the Batcave is visible. While showing the location of the battle, it also shows a violation in that Batman’s sanctum has been breached, adding to his defeat. The stalactites and stalagmites form a jagged, jack-o-lantern maw implying a vicious mouth since Bane’s is hidden by his mask.
I have chosen to show the cover above as depicted, but more than likely you have seen this version of the original cover.
DC released the book with this paper flap obscuring half of the front cover. There was also an issue of Justice League America with a similar add-on released around the time of the Death of Superman storyline. Presumably, this was done in an effort to make the book more attention grabbing on an overcrowded shelf. Surely, this was one of the most economical cover gimmicks of the ’90’s. However, when I look at it, all I see is that it’s blocking half of a great Kelly Jones cover.
In recent years, this cover has been re-used for the first volume of the Knightfall collection.
With this cover’s lack of trade dress that the original was heavy on, more of Jones’ work is visible with this version. However, the re-coloring of this edition feels colder and makes the piece seem flatter, especially the background. Side-by-side, I prefer the original version. They were smart enough to not include a black flap over half of the cover this time though.
Be sure to check back next time for the number 6 greatest Kelley Jones Batman cover.