Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Notebook Covers: Batman vs Nocturna

It's something I like to do..Instead of Photoshop, I take the actual printed matter and cut n' paste 'em together, then slap 'em together on a notebook. You won't find any notebook like this at the Walgreen's! Obviously, I didn't regard the issues in question as anything sacred; the covers were cool, the stories inside...not so much. I discovered I could form a more dynamic image by combining them and making a subtle change. I'll leave it to you readers to spot what came from where. Plus, I love the late-90's title font. They feel more indicative of the character, like one of his gadgets..a Bat-Font.

I became interested in this obscure mid-1980s Batman villain in 1998, when Paul Dini described a rejected idea for a proposed episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It would've been a 2-part episode with a cliffhanger in which Batman appeared to turn into a vampire after his first encounter with Nocturna. I didn't know who she was, or what she looked like (this was before I began using the internet, by about 2 years, but it still would've been a wilderness; pre-Google zeitgeist, pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook/Pinterest, etc..) until I started buying old back issues from that era...

In retrospect, that rejected idea in question is odd, since Nocturna isn't a vampire; exactly what she wants and who she is has a big question mark on top. Her debut offers some background on her early life, but in her dealings with others, Batman/Bruce Wayne in particular, her characterization comes off falling somewhere in between Poison Ivy and Catwoman. I would describe her as an albino goth whose interests include stargazing, riding hot air balloons, stealing jewelry and organized crime. She also has a strange relationship with her brother Anton, who adopts the guise Night-Slayer and wears a drab gray costume. Like a Steampunk-era Vampirella, really ( and that has been done, recently) but does anyone really know who Vampirella is, either?

Back to our goth/cosplay vampire/astrologer. Her best moments allow for spectacular visuals from reliable journeyman artists of the decade: Don Newton, Gene Colan, Tom Mandrake, Rick Hoberg and cover artist extraordinaire Ed Hannigan, whose classic Detective Comics cover image of Batman & Nocturna embracing amidst the red skies and thunderstorm (these stories were published around the time of Crisis On Infinite Earths and the use of blood-red skies was intended as a subtle thematic  continuity link) was so awesome that I tried re-creating it in my sketchbook (the end result was I made her posterior larger and his cape & cowl a brighter blue...I knows what I likes..). So in short, the artwork makes her an iconic Batman foe, but the stories keep her in the D-list with Magpie, Mr. Polka Dot, King Snake, Whisper A'Daire and The Planet Master. Because they're just..boilerplate storylines - Doug Moench was juggling scripts for two books a month, often with the "story" for Detective being a thinly-veiled recap of what was happening in Batman. Only the hardcore completists still hold onto these - once Frank Miller arrived, all this stuff was abandoned in favor of aping Miller's Batman. It's still not clear if Moench ever thought of reviving/revamping the character when he returned to the Bat-books in the 1990s,

I remember finding a sketch - purportedly by Bruce Timm - of what this character was going to look like on the net..and better than that, I found a fan-made image, purportedly from Deviantart, of a 3-D maquette image of Nocturna..the end result resembles Timm's designs for the silkier femme fatales of the series: Red Claw and Talia Al Ghul. Pity he didn't go for the blue hair. Angelina Jolie could play her opposite Ben "Batfleck" Affleck, but again, wouldn't you want Jolie to play Catwoman? Sorry, Nocturna. Maybe they'll incorporate you among the cast of Gotham...

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