This is one of my favourite Batman comic book covers. It’s from the devilishly dark mind of artist Kelley Jones. He drew some absolutely brilliant covers during the Knightfall saga and I may post a few more of my favourites in due course.
I love the demented gay abandon of “Batman” as he viciously takes a wooden club (replete with two pointy nails) to a bad guy’s face. A visibly shocked Robin surveys the scene unfolding before him and can do nothing but watch the carnage unfold. I suppose Tim Drake’s Robin is thinking “It was never like this with the other guy!”.
The ‘other guy’ being Bruce Wayne who is, at this stage of proceedings of the Knightfall saga, freshly broken-backed at the hands of Bane, whilst the new guy (Jean Paul Valley) is clearly relishing his role as the
protector punisher of Gotham.
As a 10-year-old coming across this comic book on a crowded shelf in my local newsagent, I was immediately transfixed by the above violently visceral scene, and I remember thinking to myself “Batman isn’t meant to do that!”.
Of course this was all before I became a regular, avid reader of the Batman comics, and way before I had any idea about the events of Knightfall. Suffice to say I hoovered up any and all back issues I could get my hands on in order to understand why the Caped Crusader had gone club-happy.
Clearly this particular cover isn’t the most visually stylish or as accomplished as some of the art Kelley Jones produced during his stint pencilling the main Batman title, or even as visually arresting as some of the great covers he produced for No Man’s Land, but for sentimental reasons this cover stands out in my mind above any other.
It’s also one of the reasons I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for Jean Paul Valley’s Batman. The purists may baulk at his stint under the cape and cowl, but I loved the mind-space the character of Jean Paul Valley occupied, and his desire to prove himself, at any cost, in the role of the Batman. He also wore a wonderfully radical Bat-suit which gradually got more awesome (or deadly, depending on your perspective) as the entire Knightfall saga reached its conclusion. Sadly Jean Paul’s descent into madness kind of put a downer on proceedings(!)
Dangerously sharp Bat-Gauntlets FTW!