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Year of the Artist, Day 216: J. G. Jones, Part 5 – Final Crisis #3

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is J. G. Jones, and the issue is Final Crisis #3, which was published by DC and is cover dated September 2008. Enjoy!

Final Crisis is a book that reads much better as a whole (with the Superman issues, especially), which is too bad because DC wanted it to be so important. Unfortunately, Jones was plagued by illness and other personal problems during its creation, which caused him to fall behind on the art. The work he did before all those problems struck, however, is very cool, so let’s take a look at it!

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As we saw yesterday, Jones can do some interesting things with a restrictive grid, and he does so here with a 9-panel one. In the corner, we get Renee Montoya fighting the forces of S.H.A.D.E., and Jones does his usual good job with the choreography of the battle as the Question escapes. The outer shell is neat because it allows Jones to show the wider city, but also, because we’re still reading left to right and top to bottom, we get to Panel 3 before we get to the bottom row, so Jones and Morrison use that to show a burst of light, which is the arrival of a beaten-up superhero. We don’t know that yet, but it’s a clever way to introduce it in a different scene and link it to the later pages. Jones also shows the Question turning back into Montoya in the bottom row and disappearing, using the technique we saw yesterday, where static images in different panels help imply movement. Jones does this very well, and we see that here.

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So the Flashes are running backwards through time or some such nonsense, and the bullet hits Orion and messes him up. I wanted to show this page mostly because of the special effects. Alex Sinclair colored this issue, and as with all special effects, I assume he had a big hand in this. Jones, I’m sure, knows how to do this sort of thing, but given his time constraints, I wonder if he had the time to do it. I’ve never been a huge fan of computer effects in comics, because too often it looks unnatural, but as with anything, the higher the production values, the better things look, and Sinclair/Jones’s use of it here is about as good as it can be. I like the swirly paints in the background of Panel 1, while using electronic paint to make the Flashes’ lightning more crackly has always been pretty cool. The effects in the background of Panel 4 shows that we’re still in another dimension, and the fact that Jones’s line work is so strong makes the effects work a bit better, too. We can see every piece of Orion’s armor, the shreds of his uniform, and the anguish on his face. If you’re going to use computer effects in your comics, it helps if the pencil work can stand up to it, and obviously, Jones’s can.

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So we get the “superhero draft,” which is one of those Morrisonian ideas that balances on the knife’s edge of brilliant/idiotic, and Jones gets to draw heroes getting the call. I like the dichotomy of this page – we have Supergirl saying goodbye to her cat, and Jones puts her high in Panel 2 as Tawky Tawny gets the call, linking the anthropomorphic tiger with the more mundane feline. In Panel 1, Jones draws differently for Supergirl’s designs, and even gets to paint something odd in the corner – is Supergirl dreaming about Cthulhu? Obviously, Jones has it written into any contract he signs that he gets to draw women in leather, so in Panel 3 we get Black Canary getting dressed. I’ve never worn leather bondage gear (I’ve certainly offered, but my wife tells me it’s not necessary, which is probably for the best), so I’m not sure what you wear under it, but a lace bra seems kind of odd. Wouldn’t that bunch up a bit? It’s a nice pose, though, as Dinah knows that Ollie is a jerk, so she doesn’t even listen to him as she holds his quiver toward him.

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Speaking of leather … Mary Marvel shows up, and yes, this is EVIL Mary Marvel. As usual, Jones shows that he knows a thing or two about drawing leather – he uses white inks to make it shine, and he puts nice folds at her elbows and knees. The cape is lushly inked, too, making the fabric look like thick satin. Mary’s breasts are a bit big, but I guess when she turned evil, she decided to get some work done! Jones is still quite good at faces, as Mary’s heavy-lidded look in Panel 2 makes her look a bit more louche, while her plumped lips signify amped-up sexuality, which of course is also evil. Jones composes Panel 1 quite well, with Wonder Woman standing ringed by Atomic Knights, so we get a good view of the challenging Mary, while his point of view from behind and above Mary implies that evil has the upper hand – Mary stands dominant, while Wonder Woman and her allies are in the background, much smaller. It’s a bit obvious, but nicely done nevertheless.

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The next page is a bit strange. We saw a few days ago that Jones allowed style to overtake function when he laid a page out, and while here we get a simple wide-screen stack, the drawings within each panel are a bit odd. In Panel 1, Mary leaps at Wonder Woman, who dodges out of the way. The Knight in the foreground is named “Marene,” as we discover when someone off-panel yells her name (we also get confirmation on the next page). So far, so good. In Panel 2, Mary obviously kills Marene and her puppy, but it does get confusing. First of all, where’s Wonder Woman? Second, Mary flies quite far above Marene, who obviously was torn apart at the waist, which is fairly thick. I know superpeople are really powerful, but it appears that Mary made no effort to rip a grown woman in half. We also see that the dog’s head has been spun around, and we see in Panel 3 that it has been decapitated. So from that one panel, we’re supposed to process that Wonder Woman has disappeared and Mary has done two horrible things to a woman and a dog whose wounds aren’t really that close together, but Mary apparently caused both traumas in one pass. Plus, the word balloons imply that this takes place really, REALLY quickly. Wonder Woman reappears in Panel 3, and we see that Marene has been divided and the dog decapitated. Mary is holding Wonder Woman and she’s already scratched her, but that still doesn’t tell us where Wonder Woman was. Finally, Panel 4 pleasantly puts the dog and Marene in the foreground, so we can see the blood spurting from them. Wonder Woman and Mary look much closer to the corpses than they did in Panel 3, even though momentum seems to imply that they would be farther away. The drawing on this page is perfectly fine, but the way Jones presents the fight is confusing, even though we do know what’s going on.

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We get some more special effects when Barry and Wally run a few weeks into the future, as Jones does that distortion you can do with computers to blur someone who’s “running” really fast. Again, I don’t mind it too much, especially in certain circumstances, and the Flash running really fast is a good place for it. Sinclair drenches this sequence in deep blues and lurid reds, implying that the state of the world has deteriorated rapidly. Jones also inks the page heavily, so that we know it’s at night and that things aren’t too great. As we see above, a lot of his inking on this issue is a bit lighter than usual, but here, he uses a heavier line to imply the darkness descending on the world.

Jones hasn’t done a ton of interior work recently – he did draw a Before Watchmen mini-series, but to see that art, I would have had to get over my distaste for that entire venture, and I didn’t want to do that, so I don’t know what it looks like. However, I’m always looking forward to seeing what he does next, because he’s such a great artist!

I know that I gush about most of the artists I’ve featured this year, but tomorrow I’m going to start on an artist who remains one of my favorite artists of all time, one of those dudes whose books I’ll buy even if I don’t like the writer or even the subject matter. That’s how much I dig him! You might be able to guess who it is, but you don’t have to, because you can just come back tomorrow and find out! Obviously, you won’t find him yet in the archives, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them!

20 Comments

I always liked how Renee disappears in a puff of smoke shaped like a question mark. Its the little things, ya know?

Even though Final Crisis was a huge trainwreck of an event, the art was pretty good throughout.

you really missed out by boycotting the comedian series. not only was jeffs art stellar but azzarello really took to another level

Beautiful work. Thanks.

Wow, that book’s story looks positively awful. But what exactly is happening in that Mary Marvel scene. I can’t make heads or tails of it.

What, no Promethea?

tom fitzpatrick

August 4, 2014 at 7:20 pm

@ Dean: I don’t think Jones did any Promethea. Maybe on TOM STRONG.

@ Mr. Burgas: I remember this mini-series, and the delay between issues. I agree that it was a colossal blunder on DC part not to give Jones more time to work on the series (or at least have an inker to help things along).

It was really too bad, it was a good series, and it would have been a lot better if Jones did the whole series, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans …

Jeremy: Yeah, that is pretty cool, isn’t it?

Pixie_Solanas: You’re welcome!

Dean: J. H. Williams III drew Promethea.

tom: This was after Civil War was delayed so much, so it’s not like DC would have been taken by surprise when they put a slow artist on a series that has to come out at certain times and is tied into other books. It’s just weird.

Not Final Crisis #2, with the awesome(in the old sense) scene of Turpin beating the shit out of Mad Hatter?

Also, I believe he stopped doing art for a while because of health issues. Before “Before Watchmen”, the last thing he drew was covers for First Wave, the short lived Azzarello-backed DC pulp line.

Man, I sure did hate everything about Evil Mary Marvel. Not Jones’s fault, though, unless he designed that look.

Of course, it’s remarkable how little any of this lasted or counted in the end.

Not sure of the timing (of the health issues Mudassir mentions), but I got to chat with JG Jones in the spring of ’11, and asked him what he was up to. I believe he’d done an issue or 2 of First Wave Doc Savage, although they may have cancelled the book before his stories saw print. He’d said he was also doing some merchandise art, iirc. Dunno what it was and I don’t think he did more than hint at what it was (possibly, given the timing, it was something to do with the nu52). I think he also did covers for the nu52 Frankenstein book as well. He signed my Final Crisis stuff (I asked him if he did the big Batman hit by Omega beams spread before I had him sign 6 on that page), and because of those damn glossy covers, his sig is smeared on my #1. Oh noes, it’s not going to be worth as much!!!

Also, I got to eavesdrop/participate on a conversation between JG Jones and Frank Quitely. I feel awesome.

Perhaps the thing that Supergirl is painting is some of the flora of Krypton?

Final Crisis was weird and disjointed. I sort of enjoyed it, but it could have been better. I blame part of that on the extremely poor coordiantion by DC Comics’ editorial (the events of Countdown, Death of the New Gods and Final Crisis synced up very poorly) and part of it on Grant Morrison trying to fit way too many plotlines and crazy ideas into the miniseries.

I certain do give J.G. Jones credit for being a class act and offering up a mea culpa for both the delays and the need for other artists to finish the miniseries. As Jones himself commented right here on CBR back in 2008, “Any problems completing the series are my own. I love Doug Mahnke’s art, and he would have probably been a better choice to draw this series in the first place.” I felt bad after I read that. It sounded like he was beating himself up over what happened.

Whatever the case, that’s certainly much more amirable than shrugging off a book being super late with a comment like “Oh, I was busy playing Final Fantasy on my Playstation” :)

At the end of the day, I think J.G. Jones is a great artist. I love his cover artwork, and it’s awesome when he does have the time to draw a full-length story (although, as with Greg, I avoided Before Watchmen like the plague). Jone is currently at work on a top secret project with a top secret co-creator for BOOM! Studios. Looking forward to seeing it, whatever it is!

s!moN: I boycotted ALL of Before Watchmen, so it wasn’t just the Comedian one. A little bit of it was moral outrage (although I’m certainly not as angry about it as some people), but mostly it was fatigue with yet another retread. I didn’t see any reason for any of the series, because they were superfluous and even more of an obvious money grab than most comics. I’m bummed that DC didn’t throw money at all those great creators to do something of their own … like they did with Moore and Gibbons in the original!

Mudassir: I try to find an interesting mix of things to write about, and this issue had a little more interesting stuff than issue #2, even though I did think long and hard about using #2.

fair enough. to be honest i had a hard time as well justifying most of the before watchmens but at the end of the day, or middle of the week as it were, i said to my-self, “tom, you wasted time and money on that piece of shit watchmen movie, why not go for broke?” so i did. it might be telling that i no longer own any of the bw minis but hey, good art in most cases

I’m bummed that DC didn’t throw money at all those great creators to do something of their own … like they did with Moore and Gibbons in the original!

Greg, I wrote almost the exact same thing on my blog two years ago:

http://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/thoughts-on-the-before-watchmen-controversy/

Specifically “What I would like to see from them as a company is to offer these creators the same sort of money to develop brand-new characters and series, to give them an additional incentive to work on those original ideas by giving them a financial stake, and then promote these new titles with the same rabid enthusiasm with which they are pushing Before Watchmen.”

I can’t really tell what’s going on in most of these pages. Aside from some pointedly obvious short-hand dialogue.

By the way, Greg, I sent JG Jones a message on Facebook letting him know at your multi-installment analysis of his work. He posted links to all five parts, albeit with the following comment:

“So Mr. Greg Burgas has been digging rooting around through my entire career in excruciating detail. This is like seeing your high school yearbook photos, folks. It’s is just mortifying. Anyway, if you are bored, you can enjoy poking the dog with a stick.”

With his link to this fifth installment, Jones wrote “The Final Installment (sorry, I couldn’t resist). I’m a little sorry it wasn’t what I WANTED (crap, i did it again), but good, nonetheless. Thanks for breaking it down, Greg.”

When someone commented “Great reading but disappointed there was no discussion of your work on Fatale in the earlier parts” Jones responded with “Hahaha! Why prolong my pain?”

At least he has a sense of humor about it :)

Ben: Ah ha – it was you! I wondered why the posts were getting so many “likes” on the Facebook tag at the top – I figured Jones had linked to them, but you put him on the scent! :)

Jones sent me a Facebook message about them, and we had a nice conversation. He seems like a good guy. So thanks, I guess?

The weird thing is, I completely forgot about Wanted. It marked the beginning of my Mark Millar boycott, so I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind. I love the art on it, but it’s so representative of my dislike of MIllar’s persona that I didn’t even think of it!

Greg: I met JG Jones at a convention a few years ago, and he definitely seemed like a nice guy to me. We had a cool conversation about Jack Kirby.

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