One of the benefits of being a few short steps away from DC Editorial is the slew of great art that is passed around daily. One minute you're in Mike Marts' office marveling at Francis Manapul's new RED ROBIN cover, the next you're talking about symbolism in comics. One such event involves JSA VS KOBRA: ENGINES OF FAITH,by writer Eric Trautmann and artist Don Kramer, with covers by the one and only, Gene Ha. Sometimes the most interesting thing isn't only the final product, but the discussions that went into creating it. So, here, thanks to JSA VS KOBRA editor Rachel Gluckstern, is a look at just that. Take it away, Rachel!:
See that stunning cover there? That's the cover to JSA Vs. Kobra #2, by the incomparable Gene Ha. What should particularly jump out at you is the bloody snake graffiti threatening to overshadow our fearless heroes. That symbol isn't just Gene drawing pretty, it's something born out of inspiration and much discussion with writer Eric Trautmann.
Frankly, it was awesome to watch these two smart dudes bounce ideas off each other, delving equally into Eastern philosophy, DCU continuity and real world politics. These guys aren't messing around, as you're about to see.
Eric wanted something simple and low-tech that could be scrawled across the DCU as evidence Kobra was in the vicinity. It had to be something that fit his interpretation of the modern Kobra cult as something both religiously extreme and completely contemporary in its terror tactics, as well as convey its goals of ushering in a new age -- the Kali Yuga -- all in one simple design. A tall order, for sure, but fortunately, Gene was up to the task.
So a day later, here's what Gene sent our way:
"A01- Not much spiritual symbolism beyond the cobra itself (species Naja naja, which is also the hindi binomial name). It is the one that best matches the old chibi Kobra symbol, without getting too close to the GI Joe Cobra symbol. If I do a tighter version of this, I'll emphasize the scales in the 'eye' markings on the hood. In Hinduism, the king cobra is associated with both the current supreme god Shiva, and all snakes are associated with the male demon Kali of Kali Yuga."
"A02- A few symbols are worked into here. The infinity symbol, upright and stacked with the top loop broken. DNA. Progress. It also hints at dualism, essentially Siamese twin king cobras. The lower right snake head bowing before the greater upper left cobra (Jeffrey submitting to Jason's godhood)."
"A03- Infinity loop, with Kobra rising up beyond the shackles of reincarnation and achieving spiritual awareness."
"A04- Kobra looped around the world, and also forming a subtle swastika."
"A05- Kobra as part of the infinity loop."
After we sat around stunned at this display of speedy, yet thoughtful, genius, Eric voted for #2 or #5. A quick consultation with Art Director Mark Chiarello (who knows a thing or two about great art, which you all know from the Wednesday Comics previews, right?) and a tweak to the fangs later, #5 was chosen as the "face" of the new Kobra. It can be sprayed on a wall, scribbled in a note, or emblazoned in blood. No joke. JSA vs. Kobra #2 has just that within its pages. We're not putting anything on these covers that won't be in the book.
Now think about THAT. And keep your eyes peeled for the next appearance of that snake sign. It means you're in the presence of Kobra, and nothing's safe anymore. Stay alert and keep reading...