Concept Art: Part 2
In this, the fourth entry of the Year of the Batmen, we’ll continue to examine how Batman is depicted artistically. Characterization, mood and message will be dissected. Many of the storylines to accompany this art work hasn’t even been released yet. So, this will afford us with a unique point of view as study the personality of Batman from the artist’s perspective.
The Neal Adams Batman
This particular entry comes from the upcoming Batman: Odyssey. This picture has been much discussed in the blogosphere and not always favorably. Batman’s face has a feral look to it which is accentuated by the sharpness and length of the cowl ears. Batman’s bared teeth also give him an animalistic look. As we see he is being riddled with bullets perhaps we are to see Batman as the prey instead of the hunter.
The Mark Bagley Batman
As an accompaniment to the Neal Adams Batman above we are presented with another Batman that is bloodied and bruised. We are accustomed to seeing Batman triumphant and nearly invincible despite his human nature (especially as opposed to Superman). So it is quite a contrast when he is depicted as near defeat and perhaps overmatched. Note the arm raised to protect himself and the head tilted in a recovery mode following a hard blow. One might argue the oversized Bat utility belt buckle has a “shield” like quality to it to further the image of vulnerability. So despite the over musculature, we have a Batman, who with tattered cape, is portrayed as being far from invincible. You may remember this picture from Batman #688.
The Andy Kubert Batman
Most of the Batman readers out there will recognize this Batman from the upcoming Return of Bruce Wayne. Kubert depicts his Batman as preternaturally athletic. You would have to be in order to evade a shower of automatic weapons fire as this Batman does. Note only one hand on the rope and the other ready to strike. So despite being in an undesirable position this Batman with his sweeping cape silhouetted by a blinding spotlight actually has the upper hand. We are far more used to seeing this, the Bruce Wayne Batman, depicted as such. Nearly invulnerable. Is there a prejudice against the Dick Grayson Batman that we are meant to see him as not quite as worthy of the cape and cowl?
The Alex Ross Batman
The artwork of Alex Ross is often characterized as “photo-realistic” and the use of light and shadow are very important to this type of work. This Batman isn’t just consigned to the pages of a comic book. No, this Batman is ripped from the pages of a magazine or captured off a TV news program. Gothic in nature, there is no over musculature adding to realism of this caped crusader. Moreover his cape has a silken quality lending it a funereal look and darkening the mood for this Batman. Despite its being oversized however it is never an impediment. The cape legitimizes the Ross Batman and his dark purpose despite this Batman being overtly human. Note the heroic pose as Batman is seen as a solitary sentinel overlooking a blackened city.
The Jim Lee Batman
You’ll observe that Jim Lee makes ample use of Batman’s cape also. Here, the cape is even larger than the Ross version. It has a very dramatic flair to it as its surrounds the Batman in its most intimidating form. It also seems to envelopes the city in a protective cocoon. Lee likes to draw his Batman with an oversized chest. This characterizes Batman with a heroic quality reminiscent of the champions of ancient Greek mythology. He is our Hercules (or technically Heracles). The thighs are overly large and the hands probably too big. This style might have been inspired by the work of Michelangelo who depicted his hero, David, with similar attributes. Finally, this Batman is standing, not lurking in the shadows. He is a demigod, otherworldly, defiant and unafraid. A true Homeric champion.
In upcoming entries to the “Year of the Batmen” I’ll be taking a look at the more ghoulish artistic versions of Batman as well as what is going on inside the mind of Dick Grayson and how Batman is depicted in the issues of the JLA. Comments are always welcome.
Posted by Dark Knight Dave