"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Yildiray Cinar, and the issue is Noble Causes #39, which was published by Image and is cover dated February 2009. Enjoy!
Cinar’s big break came in 2007, when he began drawing Jay Faerber’s Noble Causes, bringing some stability to the art on the title (it had been stable early on, but then went through a tumultuous period just before Cinar came on board) and finishing out the series with 14 consecutive issues. He was soon after snapped up by DC, and the rest is … history? Anyway, on Noble Causes he took some big strides with his artwork, including the very cool work he did on issue #39.
In this issue, we find out how Celeste is married to a dude 50 years older than she is and why she loves him so much. She went back in time, of course, and fell in love, but because of PSEUDO-SCIENCE!!!!!, she couldn’t stay there. So sad! Cinar did some cool stuff with the 1955 stuff, as we’ll see, but first, here’s some work from the “present”:
Cinar’s panel is simple but effective. The central image of the gauzy white light, around which everything rotates, is almost mesmerizing – Jacob Baake, who colors this, uses the stark white in the center well, then fades it into grays very slowly, which still keeps it brighter than anything else on the page. Cinar uses a good amount of Kirby Krackle in the background, while Baake saturates it in cool blues and greens, making it more mysterious. Cinar places the characters around the glowing hole, posing Zephyr and Celeste in curved positions to accentuate the circular motion of the panel. It’s also to show their femininity – both show off their midriffs, note, while Rusty is a robot, Doc is an older man, and Slate is made out of stone. Cinar inks the page well, with the shadows blacking out the backs of Zephyr and Slate and lengthening on the ground, showing how powerful the light from the “temporal anomaly” is.
On the next page, we get why it’s a “temporal anomaly” – a pterodactyl flies out and causes some havoc. In Panel 1, Cinar does a nice job with the motion and violence of its attack – it rips at Doc’s face, and we get a good spray of blood, while Slate ducks down so we can see the entire dinosaur clearly. The fate of the dinosaur isn’t exactly important, as it’s killed off-panel, but Cinar leads us through that sequence pretty well – Celeste and Rusty fire energy to the right, and in the next panel, the pterodactyl is dead, plummeting downward with Rusty flying next to it. His placement on the right side of the panel links the dead dinosaur to the previous panel while also leading us to the next panel, where Celeste stares into the anomaly. Then we get the close-up of Doc shouting at her. Noble Causes was never a terribly graphic comic, so Cinar doesn’t show his wound, but this choice also makes the layout a bit more chaotic – everything is happening so quickly that we can’t even center Doc in the panel! In the final panel, Celeste gets sucked into the anomaly, and Cinar twists her body really well, with streaks of ink creating the sensation of movement as her body contorts. Cinar has always had a strong, solid line, and he’s getting better at using hatching and spot blacks effectively to create details – the black on the pterodactyl in Panel 1 makes it look more sinister, even though it’s logical as it’s flying away from the light source. Cinar’s rough inks in Panel 6 make Doc look both worried and wounded, as he’s been through a serious trauma a few panels earlier and is also scared for Celeste. This is just Cinar getting better at what he does.
Celeste gets dragged back to 1955, where she meets Colonel Comet, who’s dealing with his own time anomalies. He asks Celeste to help out with this problem, which leads to this magnificent panel. The pages set in the past are inked and colored by Ralph Niese, and I’m not sure what he does here. Duo-Shade paper was very rare at this time (it was discontinued at some point, but I don’t think it had been by this time), but I’m sure the effect was created on computer, where I imagine it would be easier. The question is whether Cinar did it or if Niese overlaid the diagonal lines over Cinar’s pencil art while he was inking/coloring it. Either way, it’s a great way to distinguish between the two “eras” that occur in this issue. The “rough” quality of the drawings, the sepia tone of the pages, the thinner inking lines, and the brighter colors all combine to make this look much more like a relic than it otherwise would. [I should point out that you can’t really see the effect on this page too much when you’re looking at it on a computer. If you click the picture to make it bigger, it’s more obvious, and if you look at the panels below, you see the effect a bit better. So if you’re confused about what I’m talking about, that’s why.]
Cinar composes the page really well, too. Epoch, the bad guy, stands in the center, and he’s the dominant image in the panel, of course. Cinar designs a wacky costume for him, and he’s standing dramatically, with everything in the panel rotating around him. Cinar gives him some Kirby Krackle flying from the lightning streaming from his fist, linking his power to the time anomaly. Cinar gets to draw cavemen, ancient Egyptians, dinosaurs, science fiction heroes, spaceships, and high Renaissance knights, all in one groovy panel. He gets the chaos of the scene quite well, as Epoch looks gleefully maniacal, while the regular folk run around in a panic while the various time anomalies look confused or ready to fight. Cinar adds some neat details – the tentacles beneath the Tyrannosaur, for instance – and Niese does a really cool job with the coloring. He uses some more basic colors, while the vortices around the scene are inked and colored a bit blurrier, causing them to stand out a bit from the rest of the world. Niese uses stark contrasts between the lighter and the darker sections of the characters, as we can see with Epoch – he’s rimmed in bright light, but the delineation between that and his magenta costume is quite abrupt. The bold colors separate this even more from the murkier “present,” which isn’t a new invention but works well here. [I had to cut off a bit from the top and bottom of this panel to fit it on my scanner, so I don’t quite show everything. Sorry!]
Celeste does some smashing, and Cinar does a nice job with it. We saw a few days ago that he had an affinity for action, but on Noble Causes, he got much better at it, and this is a nifty sequence. Cinar goes in for a close-up in Panel 1, to show how enraged Celeste is that Epoch has taken a hostage (that lady in Panel 3). He draws her mouth open, teeth bared, and her eyes a bit wide to show her anger, and then, in Panel 2, she leaps forward toward the reader and toward Panel 3, with her eyes narrowed, her eyebrows arched, and her mouth still open in rage. Her “movement” in Panel 2 takes her right to Panel 3, where she smashes Epoch in the jaw, completing the motion she began in Panel 2. It’s a really smooth transition, and Cinar makes it even better by closing Epoch’s left eye and keeping Celeste’s facial expression the same, showing that her anger has not abated. The arc of energy from her fist leads us over to the hostage, as Cinar makes sure that we know she’s okay. The fluidity of the characters is very well done, and Cinar remembers to put a terrified expression on the hostage’s face and show her hair flying around due to her abrupt fall. Niese once again inks and colors this very nicely – we get the explosion of speed lines in Panel 2, complementing Celeste’s pose very well, and of course there’s more Kirby Krackle in Panel 3. We also get the bold borders between colors – Niese uses stark blue in Panel 1, which is an interesting choice, but it stands out more because there’s no gradual shift to the pink rimming Celeste’s features. In Panel 3, Epoch’s metallic costume is also inked cleanly, and Celeste’s energy pours over him, giving him a sickening pink hue. The old-fashioned “Wham!” completes the sequence well.
As I mentioned, Celeste starts getting sick when she’s stuck in the Fifties until Doc shows up to rescue her. She doesn’t want to leave Colonel Comet, but he convinces her to go. Cinar gives us a nice scene between Celeste and her husband. I should point out that Faerber obviously didn’t take a look at this web site, or he would have known that no one in the 1950s was called “Dylan,” which is Colonel Comet’s real name. For shame, Faerber!!!! Cinar does a good job with this quieter scene, as in Panel 3, he draws Celeste with her eyes closed and her eyebrows down, while Niese uses some nice hatching so that her face isn’t rough, but tragic. Panel 4 is a bit clichéd, but it works well, as we get very little background, just a smudge of blue, as the lovers say goodbye.
After the end of Noble Causes, Cinar drew a few pages of Faerber’s other superhero book, Dynamo 5, but he also quickly moved to DC, where he’s been ever since. Tomorrow we’ll check out some of his DC work and see how he kept refining his work. Of course, before you come back, you can always take a gander at the archives!
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