Saturday, July 23, 2016

Uncovering Kelley Jones´ DC comic art

As I promised in my first post on Kelley Jones about his work outside of DC here is the all DC post although I didn´t think it´d take me five months.

But better late than never so I´m using the Christmas holidays to put the finishing touches on a few posts I did not get to finish. And who knows ?

I might even get to finally put MY BIG YAYA HAN POST on Tales from the Kryptonian which is long overdue since there are already a number of the Queen of Cosplay´s new sexy cosplays I´d like to feature on the blog.

So let´s get right back to Kelley Jones DC art among which his work on the Battitles is best known especially his covers on Knightfall and the story lines that followed which have been reprinted in new trade paperbacks.

What always bugged me a bit about this story is that the idea for breaking Batman´s will - make him go through the gauntlet of fighting all his arch enemies and villains without a break - is basically the plot of BATMAN 400.

You may have read the issue or at least heard about it since it has an all star line up of artists and features all of Batman´s extensive rogues gallery.

So back in the Bronze Age this problem was something for a special issue but definitively not something that would drag out for months. Which makes you wonder why this time around it took such a toll on Batman when it used to be like - Monday. Okay, a particular hard Monday but like the bard said tell me why I don´t like Monday or something to the effect.

No, the reason why it prepared Batman for being broken can be summed up in one word : hubris. You see, I grew up with Jim Aparo´s Batman in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD which was a very human Batman. He made mistakes, was not above laughing at an opponent´s misery or trying to score with Black Canary and when he was incapacitated by a serious injury he had no problem using other heroes as proxies. Heck, this Batman was very good at delegating and when his old pals from the Justice League were not willing to play ball he created his own hero team, The Outsiders.

So back then if Batman had to face such a plethora of villains he would not have gone up against them alone - or if he did he would have defeated them in two issues tops - and he would definitely not have soldiered on after the point of total exhaustion. Which might sound illogical but from personal experience I can tell you that you can go beyond physical and mental exhaustion and still go on. Which is never recommendable to do.

Anyway, if the story had been written in the Bronze Age Batman would have simply collapsed because of the physical strain or come to his senses on his own and he would have formed a special team to capture those evildoers. Like The Batman Revenge Squad, The Batman Hunger Team or The Brotherhood Of The Bat. Something with a catchy name. But by the time the story came out the writers had turned Batman into an egoistical, manipulative, infallible loner and what´s worse a loner and control freak with a god complex bigger than Lex Luthor. Somebody who doesn´t listen to anyone who tells him that he has to take a brake or he´s not going to be much help to anyone. Somebody who thinks he´s the only one who is capable to put criminals behind bars in Gotham. He had been built up to this guy who has a contingency plan for everything but apparently that did not include a borderline suicidal Batman and we all know how that ended.

Another thing that gave the story a negative taste is that Bane never did much for me as a character. Unlike most of Batman´s rogues he´s more known for his pedigree than for his interesting origin story and he always reminded me of a generic WWF wrestler - which is how he was played in the YOUNG JUSTICE cartoon. He even acted like a WWF wrestler in that he had one idea - just one although he executed it brilliantly - namely make Batman too tired to notice. Make him too tired to care, to tired to figure out that all of this is just a set up to wear him down and then rush in like Ric Flair with a backbreaker. Which those WWF wrestlers have to endure a couple of times in most matches which means that they are tougher than Batman. I mean, just one finishing move and he´s out. What a wimp !

Aside from these two things it is one of the best known stories from the 90s, a decade that´s known for being exceptionally tough on superheroes who got their backs broken, hands cut off and even die or dying because they DIDN´T want to get their arm cut off. Man, a quick side note, but is it just me or do archers in comics die in the most stupid ways possible ? Getting blown off because they don´t want to loose their arm or simply because they are too stupid to take off their quiver - that says nothing good about the intelligence of super heroes with bows and arrows.

Coming back to Knightfall - it was the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman and the mantle of The Dark Knight was passed on to Jean - Paul Valley who had just been introduced in the BATMAN : SWORD OF AZRAEL mini series.

The series was written by Denny O´Neil with art by Joe Quesada and I remember that when it came out DC made a lot of dubious comments like " Watch out for Azrael, he´s going to become a very important character in the world of Batman. " which everybody kind of dismissed. Because you hear stuff like this all the time. And most of the times it´s just a lot of hype how everything will be now and all - new and groundbreaking when in most cases it will only change the status quo temporarily and have no long term repercussions. But when Azrael became the more grim and gritty version of Batman all readers were clamoring for - remember this WERE the 90s when that kind of stuff was in vogue and considered edgy - a lot of people thought this was DC´s attempt to create a more " relevant " version of Batman. There were rumors that this was DC´s way to get out of paying Bob Kane money for the Batman character but they are not true and like with the much beloved Zapp ! Superman it was Denny O´Neil´s response to all the readers who thought that Batman had to ante up his game and become the Punisher to stay effective. The plan was to show all those people why a more ruthless Batman doesn´t work so they could appreciate the original Batman. Also I don´t think that a Batman without Bruce Wayne works. Even in BATMAN BEYOND they included Bruce Wayne.

I think it´s the same reason why they had Azrael armor up because readers were saying " Bruce Wayne has the money and know how to build himself a Bat - armor when he needs to put the smackdown on Superman, why doesn´t he go full armor all the time ? " While that may help in some cases most of the time it would be too cumbersome and a hindrance.

On this series Kelley Jones only did covers or better said, some of the covers as there were different versions and I think he did the hologram covers. I´m not sure if it was this series or another one but one of the ROBIN mini series had those special covers where it has one picture when you look at it from one side and another when you look at it from another angle. My comic book dealer from that time got me all the special editions because he thought he was doing me a favor but mostly I was interested in the comic and not so much in the cover. And in this case not even in the art since I was never a big fan of Tom Lyle. Anyway, there was one exception for me avoiding the special editions of ROBIN books as there was one where the issue came polybagged with exclusive extra content.

Coming from THE JOKER`S WILD to DARK JOKER THE WILD, before Kelley Jones became the regular artist on the Batman books he did four Batman as a vampire ELSEWORLDS graphic novels and I got RED RAIN and DARK JOKER THE WILD in the hardcover format. This was before amazon so I had to pay the full price for them but it was totally worth it. On the other side I only have the trade of BLOODSTORM because of that and I can´t find my copy of CRIMSON MIST so I might have actually missed out on that one.

And speaking of Vampire Batman Kelley Jones DID revisit that particular alternative earth in the COUNTDOWN PRESENTS : THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER - RED RAIN special. The series sprang out of IDENTITY CRISIS but I did not read much of it except for a few choice issues because of the art.

And speaking of The Dark Night Detective after his stint on the Bat - books Kelley Jones worked on a few mini series like GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT and THE UNSEEN and a few specials here and there. When he started chronicling the adventures of Gotham´s caped crusader a lot of people didn´t like Kelley Jones´ style and said that he would not be a good fit for Batman. That he would be more suited for a horror title. Well, duh ! What do you think BATMAN is if not a horror title ? I mean the guy dresses up like a bat to scare the heebejeesus out of criminals, moves in creepy places and goes up against monsters like Killer Croc, Two Face, the Joker or the Scarecrow - how can anyone NOT see this as a horror title ?

Since we are on the subject of horror titles, a series where Kelley Jones was a perfect fit - even in the eyes of readers - was DEADMAN, written by NEXUS´ Mike Baron and his groundbreaking re - interpretation of Boston Brand caused a big splash that got him many of his subsequent works.

One of these works are his issues of Neil Gaiman´s SANDMAN of which his part in Seasons Of Mist and the story A Dream Of A Thousand Cats is especially fondly remembered by comic aficionados and critics alike.

The latest DC work by Kelley Jones are the two issues of CONVERGENCE - SWAMP THING which I didn´t order before Today because I kept hoping DC would release it in a nice hardcover edition. But since it only came out in trade paperback form and was mushed together with uninteresting stories of less than stellar art I had no other choice but to order the single issues.

Since we are on the subject of SWAMP THING I have to correct myself, CONVERGENCE - SWAMP THING was NOT Kelley Jones´ last work for DC since he did the first six issues of the new SWAMP THING series. I´m also waiting to see if they do a hardcover of this but I´m afraid I have to be content with a trade. On the other side I am in no rush to get this since I have a feeling that I should finish the NEW 52 SWAMP THING series ( and possibly ANIMAL MAN too ) before diving into that. Anyway, that is all I have to say about Kelley Jones and I have already selected the pictures for a Kelly Jones on BATMAN follow up post - to which I will probably not come before his next birthday. So I´m wrapping this up with a few more covers by Kelley Jones and if this much stuff about Swamp Thing doesn´t get me mentioned on MIKE STERLING`S PROGRESSIVE RUIN nothing will.

Since I´m finishing this post five months after its inception I have no idea which number it should have but I do know that when it IS finally finished I will have reached the 797 post landmark which means I will be only three posts away from post 800. Yay ! I don´t think I will get to that this years though as the next thing I will try to do is finish MY BIG YAYA HAN post !

Which will probably take me a while. Anyway, since it has been this long since I did my first Kelley Jones post I have no idea if I used any of the following links to get the art but since I promised to include them I might as well make good on that. Maybe waiting that long to finally write this post is for the benefit my readers because at first I just wanted to post the covers without much comment but then I started to go into Knightfall and then one thing led to the next and before you know it it was done.

To start things off Chris Bachalo picked Kelley Jones as COMIC BOOK RESOURCE´s Month Of Art Stars : Artist´s Choice series, there is an interview by Milan Kovacs from Hungary with Kelley Jones on COMIC CONVENTIONS , of course Kelley Jones has multiple entries on Cosmo´s Revisiting The Dreaming : Sandman´s Most Memorable Moments on NOTHING BUT COMICS and there are also 5 Questions With Ghostmann Erik on the site. Kudos to all and everybody who provides helpful content. 

As this is part of a two - fisted Kelley Jones combo and I already did the celebrity birthdays in the first part I have free reign with the videos so here is one I already posted but which has been removed by YouTube.

Next I just had to include the sensational Chloe Benet from Marvel´s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Seriously, this girl is just like candy because I want to lick her entire body. Ah, the things I would do to her. Hypothetically speaking. In real life she could probably break me in half with her pinkie.

Here is a clip from Jimmy Kimmel where she shows that besides her acting abilities and her stunning physique she got more awesome skills. Get your mind out of the gutter, buster, I´m talking about her singing.

As I mentioned Neil Gaiman´s Sandman in this post I want to use the opportunity to post another interview, this one for the 20th anniversary of the series. What I love about Neil Gaiman is that he´s a terrific speaker, he has one of those voices you can listen to for hours ( like the guy from Continuara ) and you cannot wait to hear what he is going to say next.

I wanted to include a DC cartoon but as I already posted something from the Swamp Thing cartoon and probably every other DC cartoon here is a new one. So far I have not seen much of it but is it just me or do super hero cartoons start to deteriorate after the Bruce Timm animated series ?

First we had the Fleischer cartoons, then the Filmation series and the Super Friends followed by The Animated series and Batman - The Brave and the Bold. And from there on it´s straight downhill. But what can you expect when you give the makers of the godawful Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go ! free reign of the DC universe. Although it´s not the real DC universe but the NEW 52 version. Oh, I forgot, the Young Justice cartoon was pretty good too. And the computer animated Green Lantern WAS better than the comic book series. So maybe there is still hope out there.

To close things out here is another video from X - Factor which I did not only choose because she shares part of her name with me and looks really hot. It is also because she´s very talented and was on the show before.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best

No comments: