In this the fifth installment of my ongoing series taking a look at the iconic Batman we get a full page spread penciled by Patrick Gleason with inks by Mick Fray and colors by John Kalisz. It comes from “Batman and Robin” issue number four of the “New 52”. This dynamic image shows Batman and Robin narrowly escaping the carnage of an exploding car as it is used to cover the escape of Morgan.
You can almost feel the heat of the ignited gasoline as the page is filled with searing reds and orange as the explosion blossoms behind Batman. The reader may be attempted to avert their eyes as the deep black of Batman’s costume gives depth of color to this near catastrophe for the dynamic duo. Colorist Kalisz makes good work of the contrast of the black of Batman’s costume as opposed to the bright background colors.
I like the way Gleason has chosen to draw Batman wrapped in his cape for protection from the blast with his fist pulled across his face. He looks almost evil as Batman’s eyes are slanted in anger and the ragged nature of his cape adds to this threatening display.
I wonder if Gleason was ever a fan of the sci-fi series Babylon 5. The above image is remarkably similar to the spacecraft used by the ancient race of the “Shadows”.
As you can see from the image above the Shadow’s spacecraft is quite similar to Batman in his costume. They both possess spindly tendrils that give the craft and Batman a spider like quality that is both wicked and malevolent. Even though Batman is in retreat in this image there is no doubt he represents a creature capable of unforgiving malice such as the Shadows were in Babylon 5.
If we do see Batman characterized as such I don’t think it is a coincidence that the above rendition is so evocative as to remind us of the classic Rorschach tests.
Pictured above is one of the ten classic Rorschach inkblot images. The Rorschach test is known as a “projective” test as those undergoing this test are supposed to “project” their feelings about the image, what it means to them, and what impressions are left and these emotions are then related to an analyst for their interpretation as an insight into the personality of the patient.
Not surprisingly the ink blot above is most commonly referred to as a bat. The analyst may construe that his or her patient is fearful or feels threatened in some way. Bat symbolism is often associated with thoughts of death and rebirth and the trauma both represent. Historically, our collective unconscious sees bats as harbingers of death associated with ghoulish creatures such as vampires and creatures of the night where early man was left at his most vulnerable while the bat flew with impunity.
So how does Gleason’s image make you feel? Are you frightened, threatened or otherwise intimidated? Does Batman fill you with dread or does the above image represent a healthy dose of respect, audacity and valor?
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