There has been much hype and ballyhoo about the “New 52” and if I can be allowed this editorial comment, a lot of it has been provided by DC itself. However, this will not be the thrust of this new ongoing series by myself but if DC is going to go all the trouble of re-inventing itself and its product then it must allow for some closer scrutiny.
So, if DC is truly going to jump start or re-invent itself then I thought it would be fun to see if this is passed along, not in how Batman is written but how he is drawn. Specifically, will there be any subtle changes? Will his depiction reveal how DC wants us to accept this re-start? Will the artists take advantage of this new beginning to take some chances with the character? Will there be any singular or iconic images that will bring new definition to Batman?
It seems fitting to start with Batman’s title book “Batman” as illustrated by Greg Capullo with inks by Jonathan Glapion and color by FCO Plascencia
I’ve chosen the above panel from Batman #1 to lead off this discussion. First off, what is notable is how the dynamic nature of Batman swinging into action is captured on a horizontal plane. A lot of the time we see Batman swing directly at us or on a vertical plane. He is either dropping off a rooftop or swinging between them. Here Capullo gives us a unique look at the power, strength and agility of Batman. There is no structure in the immediate background so the depth of field is expanded and it allows the figure of Batman more freedom in his “flight”.
The right hand grips the cape in a fist which accentuates the aforementioned power and the left leg is raised in athletic fashion which gives the image dynamism of speed and agility. Practicality is also given a nod as Batman is better served by holding his cape rather than letting flow freely for mere dramatic purposes.
Take note of the deep background again. The horizontal plane is given a slight tilt which is a nice touch and lends the entire frame a decent modicum of speed and motion. The slight tilt gives a sense of vertigo and it’s as if we’ve captured Batman by camera but he’s moving so fast we haven’t had proper time to frame him. Batman is also surrounded by a perfect storm of bats, which in itself is nothing new, but I thought it was interesting to have three of the foreground bats shaded in grey so they stand out against the black of Batman’s cape.
Batman is positioned against a blood red sky which foreshadows impending violence but it could also be seen as Batman bathed in flame which gives light to his courage amidst chaos and danger. It’s also different in that we often see Batman in a blackened night amidst cavernous buildings and with a full moon or Bat signal to add depth or perspective.
Take note of the head tilt too of Batman. It captures Batman’s unique faculty for concentration and the darkened visage lends menace to a feral like creature that is actually quite intelligent. This isn’t exactly new ground either. But if you are going to draw Batman you had better get that lesson right from “Batman Drawing 101”.
All in all I found this image to be both remarkable and stunning. It captures pace, motion, power, purpose and a general sense of risk or peril.
Next – Out of costume but not out of character.
Posted by Dave Healey