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 one of the most dramatic looks the Dark Knight has ever had.
The number three cover is:
3. Detective Comics #663
The final entry on the list from the Knightfall storyline, Detective Comics #663, is a terrifying cover. “Batman in the sewers” is a scene that has been depicted on Batman covers almost since the beginning. None of those other covers were as horrifying as this one though.
Being swept away by the water, with his head barely sticking out. What little of him that is above it is crawling with rodents. As awful as that would be, what really stuck out for me with this piece originally was the water running into his open mouth. I can’t recall another comic cover that has a character where this specifically is happening. Of course there have been numerous depictions of characters in danger of drowning, but none so visceral as this. Everyone can relate to the feeling of losing their breath underwater and the panic that sets in.
While it’s not uncommon to see rats in sewer scenes, Jones has made the innovation of having them climb all over Batman’s face. As if almost being drowned wasn’t enough, Jones decided to add to the distress by having the only part of him above water crawling with vermin. Keep in mind that there aren’t one or two, Jones has placed 6 rats that we can see here. Presumably, there are a couple more on the other side. Struggling against the sewer water, gasping for air, and rats, climbing over each other, on his head.
With the rats covering his face, the rising water (which is taking up a majority of the cover), and the darkness beyond, Batman’s fate looks grim. By only showing the face, it’s left up to the readers to determine what is happening with the rest of the body. What condition is he in here? Is he bound? Paralyzed? Whatever the answer, it appears that he is almost done for here. While even the least jaded reader can assume that is not the case, Jones’ cover makes a compelling argument for it.
The specific situation that Jones has constructed here is relatable to the viewer. While, hopefully, none of us have ever, or will ever, be in this predicament, we can all relate to it. The fear of drowning and the danger of rats is something that almost, if not all, of us can associate with. This is not some far-flung, elaborate death trap. This is a scenario that you could possibly find yourself in, and is all the more terrifying because of it.
Only 2 covers to go!
If you want to get caught up on the countdown, check out the previous entries here: