Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Joëlle Jones, and the story is “Cleo-Bat-Ra” in Batman ’66 #10, which was published by DC and is cover dated March 2014 (for the digital comic – the print version is cover dated June). Enjoy!
I’m not sure if the Batman Axiom of Comics applies in this case, as Batman ’66 isn’t the “real” Batman and Jones is drawing a Batgirl story anyway, but for whatever reason (I like to think it’s Jeff Parker’s doing), this series has featured a lot of cool artists, and Jones is just one of them!
Noted playboy Bruce Wayne gets poisoned, and Barbara Gordon realizes his “ladyfriend,” Lisa Carson, is probably the culprit, so we get this nice scene where she decides it’s time for Batgirl to get involved. Jones is a terrific artist for Batman ’66, because she has a nice, old-school sensibility that fits the “Sixties” tone of the comic (even though it’s set in the present, as far as I can tell). She gives Barbara that tremendous beehive, for instance, and it might just be me, but in the final panel, the faint inked lines on Barbara’s mid-section seem to imply she’s wearing a tight-fitting girdle. Jones also does a good job with Barbara’s apartment, which looks very mod and stylish. I like how Jones remembers to make Barbara’s necklace swing when she runs across the middle row, because of course it would! You might notice, too, that Barbara’s face is a bit less angular than some other of Jones’s females that we’ve seen – over the course of her career, she’s gotten a little bit softer, although I wonder if that’s because of the coloring (Nick Filardi is back on colors in this story). But it’s still interesting.
Batgirl falls into “Cleopatra’s” lair, and Jones does a nice job with that in Panel 1. The tube down which she fell comes in from the left, bending us into the scene, and while Batgirl is below Lisa Carson, the top of the tube is close enough to the bed on which Lisa lies to lead us to her dialogue and then back down to Batgirl, who leads us to Panel 2. It’s a nice design. The first panel is pretty clever, placing the two women in parallel, with Lisa lying in control while Barbara is off-kilter. Barbara quickly regroups, but it’s an interesting way for Jones to lengthen the panel and draw us across the panel completely before we move on. Most horizontal panels still have people standing, so they chop up the panel into smaller vertical sections. Jones doesn’t do that here, as she makes everything horizontal, stretching the panel nicely. Her inking on the page is tremendous, too, as the tiger skin on which Lisa lies is beautifully inked, while the lack of long eyelashes on Batgirl juxtaposed against Lisa’s lashes make Barbara more trustworthy while Lisa seems more exotic and therefore more dangerous (Barbara has lashes, but they’re shorter than Lisa’s). I don’t make up the stereotypes, people, I just point them out, and Jones does it quite subtly, which is nice.
On the next page, Lisa offers Batgirl a job, in the most threatening way possible. Jones does really good work in Panel 2 with Lisa, when she seems so happy that Batgirl is so learned (I can never see that word without thinking of Homer and Pepe). It’s such a natural posture, because Lisa really does believe that Batgirl wants to be her advisor, and it seems so innocent, which makes her turn to threatening a few panels later even better, as it shows her unstable state of mind. When Lisa explains what happened to Bruce, she gets a nice evil look in her eyes, and Jones narrows them well, which contrasts nicely with Batgirl’s wide-eyed fear at the asp. Jones draws a nice snake, doesn’t she?
Batgirl decides against working with Lisa, which leads to her kicking butt, because she’s Batgirl! Jones and Filardi do nice work on Barbara’s hair in the first two panels, as Jones uses nice curled lines and Filardi gives it nice hues to create a lushness to the wig. Filardi’s colors are pretty good on this entire story, especially Barbara’s costume, as he uses that very light purple to give the impression of spandex, while still using nice darker hues to highlight Barbara’s muscles. Jones inks Barbara well, too, as she puts lines where we’d expect to see them as Barbara moves, making the movements more realistic. As we saw yesterday, she’s not bad at action, although Barbara is a bit stiff in Panel 2. The way Batgirl moves, though, works well, and Jones swings around the center of the scene well to end up with Lisa in the background and the henchman in the front so we can see the bites on his hand. The rotation of the scene adds to the sense of motion, which helps mitigate the slight stiffness of the figures in the fight.
Lisa throws the snake at Batgirl, who catches it in her cape. I love how Jones draws Batgirl in the first two panels, because Barbara is powerful and not rail-thin – she has good solid legs and a well-developed derrière. She’s certainly not fat, but she does have some good muscles on her. Jones actually contrasts her a bit to Lisa, who’s a bit more stick-like, as we can see in Panel 2. I don’t love the slap in Panel 4, as both figures do look a bit too stiff, and the way Barbara’s follow-through looks, it seems like she wouldn’t have slapped Lisa with her palm. Jones still needs a bit of work with her action panels, and this is a good example of that. We get what’s happening, but it just doesn’t look as fluid as it should. I do like how snotty she draws Lisa in Panel 3, when she’s boasting about her skills, and how pathetic she makes her in Panel 5 – it’s a good shift, especially because it shows that Lisa is not only delusional, she might be bipolar as well. Filardi, as usual, does a really nice job with the coloring. I don’t always love Filardi’s coloring, but in this story, he does a very good job.
Jones just started drawing Brides of Helheim, the second arc of the series, and she’s also beginning a new book with Jamie S. Rich called Lady Killer, which should be out in January. I dig her art a lot, and I’m glad she continues to keep getting a higher profile. Go check her work out!
Tomorrow I’ll start a new artist, and I think I’m going with a relatively new artist who is kicking total ass on his current ongoing instead of going with an old-school artist, as I have many plans for old-school artists to wind up the year. So join me, won’t you? And don’t forget that the archives are there for your enjoyment!
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