Monday, April 18, 2011

Batman's Night Business: Prey

Recently I got cut loose from work a few hours early, and was able to take up my usual role when I'm not on the clock as a comics vagabond/hobo. Upon visiting the comics shop at the King Of Prussia Mall and grabbing the new titles I was seeking that week, I decided to tempt fate and possibly deplete my wallet even more by browsing the back issue bin. I came across two items of interest, issue numbers 11 and 15 of Batman Legends of the Dark Knight: Prey parts 1 and 5 by Doug Moench Paul Gulacy and Terry Austin . Prey is of interest, because lately it has been getting some press. It was rumored that the newest and final Chris Nolan Batman film would be based heavily on this storyline. Upon hearing the news I took a mosey on over to amazon, where copies of the trade are currently selling for $140.00 used!!! So it goes with out saying that I would pick up these issues for a measly $6.

Upon opening the pages and leafing through, I could not help but get a sense of art deja perhaps I had seen something similar before. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks! For some reason Prey reminded me a lot of Night Business by Benjamin Marra! I don't know why, but the style used by Gulacy and Marra are very similar. The colors used on Marra's covers also are very similar to the interior colors of Prey.

Marra's drawings are certainly a bit more crude than Gulacy's, but there is a similarity in the approach of the figures and handling of the subject matter that I cannot help but notice. Prey was produced in the early nineties, when the 80's still had a heavy presense in pop culture. Batman: Prey seems to be a product of the time it was created. Perhaps that's why Prey does not have a greater presence today like Batman:Year One or The Dark Knight Returns does, it lacks that timeless quality. Night Business is set in 1983, and I can only assume is intended to emulate the type of comic Prey is (sans the superheroes).

I would argue that Marra's action sequences are a little more fluid, more kinetic than Gulacy's which seem a little stuff at times. Marra recently drew a short in Marvel's Strange Tales II. Perhaps this could lead to more mainstream comics work? I would love to see his take on the caped crusader.


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Many Gravestones of the Waynes

Batman's appearance, and his world around him, changes drastically depending on what artist draws him. With characters like Batman or Superman I think the feel is generally more important than continuity, but it is interesting how different artists depict the gravestone/stones of the Wayne parents. Sometimes there are two, sometimes the stone is one shared monolithic memorial.

The above panel appears in Batman year one, and is very powerful, especially in the context of the page/issue. Art By David Mazzucchelli and colors by Richmond Lewis.

Here we have a panel from the final issue of Batgirl year two, Batman finally and formally welcomes Batgirl to the fold, and she finds the reason for the crusade. These tombstones definitely reference the ones in Batman: Year One I'd suspect. Art: Marcos Martin on pencils, Alvaro Lopez on inks and Javier Ridriguez on colors.

In the seemingly completely forgotten Batman: Year Two (written by Mike W.Barr with art by Alan Davis and Todd McFarlane) the Wayne family plot undergoes a transformation, both sharing one marker. Certainly easier for Bruce to drape himself over. Above art: Todd Mcfarlane on pencils, Alfredo Alcala on inks and Steve Oliff/Gloria Vasquez on colors.

Here we have the Wayne plot as seen in the Tim Sale-illustrated, Jeph Loeb written Batman : The Long Halloween. Martha seems to have gotten a much more impressive tomb than Thomas, perhaps an indication of which parent Bruce loved more? Gregory Wright on colors here. (in the context of the comic, Bruce is under the influence of the Scarecrow's fear toxin, and being chased by the police for suspicion of the holiday murders.)

Below is an image from Gotham by Gaslight, once again the Waynes share a tombstone. Pencils by Mike Mignola, inks by P. Craig Russell, David Horning on colors and John Workan doing the letters.

And there we have it! Not an all encompassing collection, but a smattering of examples from my collection. Hope it was interesting!