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.
Which brings us to today’s entry.
5. Batman #532
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!