Bat Art : Artistic Variations on the Caped Crusader
Gotham Through The Ages
For the traditionalist-fan, Alex Ross keeps Batman old-school. Barrel chest. Classic uniform. Color palette leaning towards black and white to imply 1950’s film noir culture. The costume design is a simple but durable fabric, clearly not bulletproof and certainly not high tech. Revisiting an Era long past, Ross’ Batman might seem old fashioned to some, but no one can deny the historic and legendary weight this version carries.
Like A Rock
Francesco Mattina’s Batman is as strong as a mountain – with boulders for shoulders and the stone chiseled traps of an Olympic powerlifter. But is it believable that this bulky beast could swing across Gotham’s rooftops effortlessly? Or jump from ledge to ledge gracefully? Who cares? This Batman sticks to the streets and charges head on! There isn’t a criminal in existence who could deliver a punch that would bruise this leather skinned, 250lb rhino.
Sean Murphy brings us a more animalistic look to Bats. Street worn, rough and scruffy-looking like a badger. Notice the cowl, SM’s loose pencil strokes create the illusion that the material is coated with hair. Batman looks feral. Although they are not actually there, I feel like I can see whiskers and canine teeth below that fierce predatorial gaze. The high collar is reminiscent of the fashion one would see in turn-of-the-century London and the fantastic tales of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. Now that I think of it, Bruce Wayne’s story is awfully similar. A rational minded, man of science, elects to unleash his inner beast like a rabid animal to feed on Gotham’s lowly criminals.
Weirder The Better?
No matter what type of Batman you prefer, I think we would all agree on one mandatory feature in the variations of Bat Art. The Dark Knight must be intimidating. How else to strike paralyzing fear into the hearts of evil doers? And though Bruce Wayne is just a mortal man, many artists will stretch his Earthy reality toward supernatural extremes. This interpration, by comic book legend Jim Lee, illustrates a more surreal take on the Caped Crusader. In Lee’s dream vision we see a cursed and psychologically twisted soul that appears to live on the cusp of inescapable damnation.
Concerning the more recent artistic renditions of Batman, most artists tend to place the hero’s age somewhere in the mid-forties. Not Freddie Williams II. Here in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1, Batman is in his prime, like a football player early in their career. This youthful look is abscent of any wrinkly or weathered skin. Batman’s bright eyes shine with enthusiasm and vigor. Less burdened or haunted, instead, his whole form embodies swiftness and carries an air of righteousness.
I for one would love to see The Dark Knight return in the form of the sprinting featherweight we’ve seen in Batman: The Animated Series. In this acclaimed cartoon series, artist Bruce Timm brought us the type of hero that can dash away in the blink of a lightning flash. Less of a bruiser, and more of a martial artist, Timm’s Batman was fast, precise, and acrobatic.
The Future King
With the much anticipated Matt Reeves production of The Batman on the horizon, Robert Pattinson, who’s cast as the world’s greatest detective, may be just the person for the job. Rumors have even suggested that Pattinson has been having a bit of difficulty putting on the necessary weight to portray a convincing muscle bound vigilante. It seems I may get my wish after all.
High Tech Wonder!
How far will Bruce Wayne go to protect the innocent people of Gotham City? Apparently there are no limits. So when Superman’s attempts to do good began to reap catastrophic results the Dark Knight had to step in. But not before realizing it was time for an equipment upgrade. This state of the art battle armor (One:12 Collective “Bat Suit” by Mezco,) demonstrates the lengths our billionaire will go to face any threat – even the Man Of Steel!
A Living Legacy
The character of Batman, in all of his forms, has accomplished a monumental achievement – even among superheroes. In 2019, DC Comics celebrated Batman’s 80th birthday with the release of Detective Comics 1000!! Batman’s momentum has never slowed. His influence will certainly continue for another century. It is not a depressing thought to consider that Batman will outlive us all. On the contrary, it is pleasant to ponder the timelessness created with a new mythology such as this. Just as when we were little, so too shall our children continue to dream. Together at heart, we soar along rooftops fighting the forces of evil, pushing the darkness back beyond the eternal sunlight.
Thank you for joining me exploring variations on this fun Bat Art exhibit.