BATMAN REDRAWN part 2 -- BATMAN AND ROBIN #3-6
We continue our spotlight on writer Grant Morrison and artists Frank Quitely and Philip Tan's BATMAN AND ROBIN: BATMAN REBORN Deluxe Edition this week with a look at the cover to issues #3-6, in the words of Grant. Swing back tomorrow for a look at the process behind redesigning the dynamic duo and more.
This was commissioned as part of DC's "weird cover month" (as far as I'm aware, there were no other weird covers that month, leading us to suspect some elaborate practical joke), so Frank took the opportunity to create this Dollotron's-eye view of the conflict. The whirling vortex that spirals towards the tiny, battling figures of Batman and Robin creates a sense of lurching, unstoppable motion. Combined with the purple and lime green logo the result is purest necrodelia!
In a wonderfully Beatles-esque moment, this cover became the subject of frenzied conspiracy theory and fan interpretation when a reader, for unimaginable reasons of his own - perhaps goaded by Professor Pyg's obsession with upside-down-ness - rotated it through 180° only to find an eerie ghost of this famous image, as drawn by Brian Bolland in his and Alan Moore's graphic novel BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE.
I'm sad to say that none of this was planned, but the undeniable apparition of a faceless face - a mask and a personality made of vertiginous space and scraps of meaning, all spiraling down into the ineluctable singularity of a Batman right hook - was so absolutely emblematic of the Joker that it surely had to be the work of some Cosmic Trickster.
What makes it odder and somehow more perfect is that BATMAN AND ROBIN was intended to feel "haunted" by the Joker from the very beginning. Although he does not appear in person in this volume, you will find numerous deliberate and carefully inserted traces of the Clown Prince of Crime's sinister presence throughout the series, some in the form of scenes that hint at or recall famous Joker moments of the past.
So, if Quitely's hidden Joker image is completely unintended yet somehow perfectly complements the themes of the stories themselves, can it truly be described as "coincidence"? Is coincidence just our name for those moments when we are most truly aware of the fearful symmetry of existence? I don't know. Go ask your mom.
ISSUES FOUR FIVE and SIX
With these covers, we returned to my design suggestions and there were no more "Magical Mystery Tour" moments of weird serendipity.
On issue 5, Frank was sick and laboring under an oncoming deadline, so we went with a strong, simple-to-draw head shot in an effort to make his life a little easier. It's a very direct image-the fearless heroes facing a flamboyantly colored threat to their brains, as usual.
Cover 6 was based on the Prince album Purple Rain. Why? Well, you can check my notes on the Flamingo's design (reproduced on page 168), although you may be none the wiser after reading them. This may well be the first pink Batman cover ever, and it is likely to be the last you will ever see.