The Art of Batman #700
Our first illustration is something I’ve covered before. I noted how David Finch’s Batman is every bit a crepuscular creature. The looming eyes peering from the blackened face with the wind swept dramatic cape add to the dynamic of a vengeful wraith ready to strike. The use of the buildings towards a vanishing point in addition to the “moon like” Bat signal gives great depth and perspective to the drawing. It very well could be that this picture alone led to the recently announced collaboration of Finch and Grant Morrison coming this November.
I’ve recently thought how this picture reminds me of one of the rings of Dante’s Inferno. The Batman here plays the part of one of the dark spirits just above the lowest of the lowest sinners. Those sinners being the scum that preys upon Gotham City terrorizing its existence. And to continue the allegory, those who deserve eternal damnation and await their fate at the hands of the Batman.
The next entry by Dustin Nguyen is one of the most intriguing. At first blush it is suggestive of a stained glass window. The religious overtones would be obvious as Batman is an iconic figure separate from mortal men.
This portrait also suggests Batman as multi-faceted where the sum of these multi-colored parts is greater than the whole.
There is something else though. The falling leaves and the warm hues give the picture an autumnal look. Perhaps Nguyen is representing Batman as the last turn of the seasonal calendar before the dark onset of a chaotic season of crime that is winter. Cold and foreboding.
Note the circular object over Batman’s right shoulder. Is it a Sun or Moon? Batman being a creature of the night suggests Nguyen is dealing with an abstract depiction of Batman where there is color and light where there is normally darkness.
One of my favorite images from the #700 issue of Batman is the black and white submitted by Phillip Tan. Off times the lack of color makes the illustration more striking. The subtleties of light and shade give better definition and we are given a portrait of Batman that is not inundated and therefore not muted, by color. This Batman’s cape and cowl has sharpened razor like points and edges that gives this crusader a dangerous saber like quality. He also appears rising out of a cloud of smoke or steam against the night sky portentous of vengeful phantasm intent of doing his enemies’ great harm.
As a counterpoint we have a colorized depiction of Batman by Davis, Hope and Ciardo. As we usually see Batman he is in a crouched position. Although this time he seems to have alighted to the Bat signal rather than being poised to leap from it. This is also evident from the trailing batarang cable. This is a standard comic book interpretation of Batman. Well defined musculature, the usual crouch etc. What’s different is Batman, being the night creature that he is, sits exposed to the light instead of lurking in the shadows. It’s almost as if he is saying, “You called?” A dramatic entrance indeed.
Our last entry comes from Dustin Nguyen. Although this picture was included in Batman #700 it is originally credited to the Batman series “Streets of Gotham”. I love its macabre nature as it is seemingly running with the blood of a violent aftermath to a gruesome crime. I’m not sure of the true disposition of the scene. A stricken Mr. Zsazz is apparently in the foreground and perhaps that is Damien hefting the bloody blade in the center. No matter. It is Batman that is most interesting.
This Batman has risen from the darkest part of the shadows like some underworld avatar ready to pass judgment. The glowing red eyes and the horns of Lucifer, that is otherwise the Bat cowl, complete the look. Nguyen’s take on Batman here reminds me Genndy Tartakovsky’s work. Tartakovsky, you may recall, was responsible for the “Samurai Jack” cartoon series. “Jack’s” opponents often rose out of the shadows especially his arch nemesis, Aku. The purpose of Aku and these spirits were to torment Jack and slow him on his journey. Now Batman fills this role in reverse. To torment and impede the plague of crime that is the bane of Gotham City.
Your thoughts Bat readers?
Posted by Dark Knight Dave