Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
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 Legion of Super-Heroes #9, which was published by DC and is cover dated March 2011. Enjoy!
Once Cinar went to DC, I stopped getting his work, because he was working on books I had very little interest in. Sad but true! Man, I wish he would draw a comic I want to read! I do own a few of his DC books, though, because I got them when I was buying every comic DC released that month, like January 2011, when he was drawing the Legion. So that’s handy!
Cinar is being inked by Wayne Faucher and colored by Hi-Fi, and as usual, it’s interesting to see the differences inkers and colorists can make. In the case of the inking, Faucher brings Cinar’s pencil work more in line with DC’s house style, as he – digitally inking this, I assume – makes Cinar’s work a bit slicker than we’ve seen it. There’s nothing terribly recognizable about Cinar’s pencils here – we don’t see the faces of the characters too closely, and there’s no action on the page, so it could have been drawn by anyone, and that’s kind of the point. I’m not a fan of “house styles,” and DC, over the past few years, has become less accommodating of individual artists’ quirks. If you’re a superstar, you can do what you want, and if you’re working with a writer with clout, you can push for it, but Cinar, I imagine, had no cachet when he drew this, and Paul Levitz, I imagine, wanted someone to draw superhero stuff without any idiosyncracies. I’m a bit grumpy about it, sure, because while Cinar doesn’t have a strongly distinctive style, he does have a style, and Faucher’s thin lines and the color sheen Hi-Fi throws on this issue bludgeons that to a degree. This is a pleasant-looking page – the Durlans are sufficiently menacing, and Chameleon Boy stands proudly in their midst, and the special effects in the background and on the misty ground are nice, but the lack of individual style on this page is a bit depressing. Luckily, Cinar was able to do some interesting things in this issue, as we’ll see below.
Here we get a little bit of individuality, but I don’t know if it’s because of Cinar, Faucher, Hi-Fi, or a combination of all three. Tellus somehow links his mind with Dawnstar, who’s in a coma?, and we get a shift from the standard work in the first three panels (which is again fine, but somewhat boring) to the final panel, where everything changes. Tellus is inked more roughly, adding some nice nuance to his form, making him more of a “rough beast” then the smooth dude in Panel 1. Someone (Cinar? Faucher? Hi-Fi?) adds some shading to that crap on his shoulders, and he’s colored with a paler yellow to distinguish him from the “real” Tellus in the panels above. We get a gorgeous background, one that looks painted, so the neon effects (such as the shining stars) don’t look so clean. It’s cool to see that the artists were smart enough to switch the way they created the art in the “mind” of Dawnstar and that the Powers-That-Be at DC didn’t whine about it. [Edit: Cinar was nice enough to provide a link to the original art of the final panel, where you can see that he did the backgrounds with markers and brushes. It’s a very cool image.]
Back in the “real” world, we get the clean, sterile inks and colors again, although Cinar lays the page out pretty well. The tilted panels at the top help lead us across the dragon’s front as Timber Wolf rescues the two councilors. His figure design has gotten better, as Timber Wolf smoothly turns across the three panels, getting a kick in for good measure. He curves down to Panel 4, in a nice transition that echoes the panel change from yesterday’s example. It might not work, physics-wise (Timber Wolf sure does some weird contortions in mid-air, doesn’t he?), but it looks cool, and that’s all that matters. In Panel 4, we get a bit of roughness, as Cinar/Faucher use black hatching to show how violently the dragon’s tail hits Timber Wolf, while the cross-hatching on the tail itself adds some toughness to the dragon. We see a bit of that in Panel 5, but for the most part, we’re back to a smoother line in that panel.
This is a pretty classic example of the way modern superhero comics work. There’s nothing wrong with this panel, but it’s all special effects. Cinar does what he can – Timber Wolf dives out of the way, Tyroc screams, and the dragon staggers. We can barely see the pencil work, though, because it’s overwhelmed by the effect of Tyroc’s scream, which is colored so brightly by Hi-Fi that it obliterates everything else in the panel. I don’t mind this when it’s done for effect, because it’s just one moment, but often in superhero comics these days, the special effects begin to overwhelm everything else. It’s frustrating.
I know this post wasn’t as much about Cinar as it was about my annoyance with recent DC history, but I do think it’s interesting that Faucher makes Cinar’s occasionally chunky work (in the best way possible!) quite sleek. It’s always neat to see different artists linking up and see what occurs, and while I don’t love what Faucher does to Cinar on this issue, it does fit with the “futuristic” vibe of the Legion of Super-Heroes. So that’s something. (As I was poking around the Internet, I found the web site that sells Cinar’s original art, and they have some of these Legion pages showing just the raw pencils. If you go here and click on the small images, you can see them much bigger. Cinar’s pencils are much rougher, and in the final image, you can see Tyroc and the dragon much better, which isn’t surprising. It’s pretty cool to check out the differences between the pages and the final product.)
Tomorrow, we’ll finish up with Cinar with more of his DC work! Find some more DC stuff in the archives!
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