Today am I continuing my look at the work of one of my favorite Batman artists, 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.
9. Batman #496
This is the first entry from the “Knightfall” storyline, but I can guarantee it won’t be the last. There is a lot going on on this cover. From an exhausted Batman assaulting the Joker to the specter of Robin Jason Todd hanging over the scene.
The expression and sweat on Batman’s face combine to show how exhausted he is from the events of “Knightfall.” Also playing into this is the blood on his fist. The other nice thing about the blood is that it adds motion to the cover as Batman has apparently been pummeling the Joker.
Joker’s expression shows that despite the blood staining his smile, he is pleased with the results. It’s obvious that Batman being pushed to his edge is ok with him. From the position of his hands, it’s clear that he’s not fighting back. He’s not punching or clawing at Batman in an attempt to defend himself.
Jason Todd’s ghost here is also well done. There is an ink splatter or maybe whiteout splatter technique used to produce an otherworldly look. Shortly after, computer coloring would become the norm in the comics industry and this probably would have achieved that way. Here, this is accomplished through hand illustration.
Now, most of Jones’ work is just as impressive in the original black and white. Here though, the color really adds to the overall effectiveness of the piece. From the purples on the Joker’s suit to the red blood fading into the darkness of Batman’s glove. Plus, Batman’s sickly pallor adds to the condition he is in throughout the story.
The real high point for the color here is the faded look to Jason’s spirit. Immediately, the viewer knows that this is not a normal figure. Combined with the inking technique used, the palette leads to a powerful effect.
Something I forgot to mention in the first entry is Jones’ tendency to draw GIGANTIC ears on Batman. Like much of his work it demands the “can you do that?” question when first viewed. Well Jones did it. His disregard for the “rules” of depicting mainstream superheroes are maybe best represented here.
Batman’s ears here are definitely a “10”. Even if you take into account the Sprang-Jones Scale of Batman ear length spectrum Chris Sims proposed on Comics Alliance. http://comicsalliance.com/batman-ears-investigation/ This is a case also where the fins on his gloves are almost as long as the ears!
Again, that’s more that I originally thought I would have to say about this cover and I didn’t even talk about the awesome cape on this one. Next time, I will be examining my pick for the eighth best Kelley Jones Batman cover.