DC Sketch Cover Madness: Batman!

I haven't drawn the Bat-Suit on her in so long, I had to look up what it looked like.

I haven’t drawn the Bat-Suit on her in so long, I had to look up what it looked like.

I considered going with an Adam West Style, Batman ’66 Cover, but decided to wait on that, until they give me a sketch cover for Batman ’66. If they ever do.

I also considered being kind of sarcastic, but felt that wasn’t the way I wanted to go. Instead, I thought back to an old Batman comic that I had, which I never got the rest of the story to. Apparently, it was a year or so long pre-Crisis arc starting, and I remember liking the idea of it. It introduced this sort of male Cat-Burglar, the Night-Thief, and his shadowy boss, Nocturna. Here’s the cover to that book:

Here it is.  It's the last comic in the Batman: Gene Colan hardcover, BTW.

Here it is. It’s the last comic in the Batman: Gene Colan hardcover, BTW.

It turns out that Nocturna (Natalia Knight), the Night-Thief’s boss, has a pretty complex, if short lived…a year or so long…plotline in the Bat-Books. Lets look at this from Wikipedia:

“Natalia Knight had a hard childhood. She grew up on the streets as a beggar. She was eventually found and taken in by Charles Knight, who adopted her and provided her with a life of luxury.

She has a passion for astronomy and the night and eventually found a job at Gotham City Observatory. While working there one night, she became victim to a radioactive laser, which drained her skin of all pigment. It also rendered her sensitive to light.

After Charles Knight was murdered, she discovered that her lifestyle was funded by criminal activity. It was then that she met Charles’ son, Anton Knight, who fell in love with her. They both decided to keep the inheritance and took it upon themselves to keep them in their accustomed lifestyle through burglary, since Natalia needed expensive medical equipment to treat her pigmentation.

Anton, having spent much time in Asia, proved to be a highly capable martial artist. He and Natalia entered a life of crime together, he as the Night-Thief, and she as “Nocturna”, Mistress of the Night. However their burglary soon brought them into conflict with Batman.

After several clashes with Batman, Anton was captured and sent to prison. Nocturna remained free and continued her life of crime along with a new ally, Nightshade. Nocturna would conceive the plans of robbery and theft, Nightshade and his people would carry out the crimes. Once the scheme had run its course, Nocturna called it quits. During this time, she became an intimate friend of both Bruce Wayne and the Batman, something that made both lives more complicated, especially after they had slept together after Bruce lost custody of Jason. She also became a surrogate mother to Jason Todd, the second Robin, and even adopted him. Not wanting Bruce out of Jason’s life she proposed that there was only one sensible solution. She and Bruce must get married at once.

Anton Knight finally escaped and, after being rejected by his beloved Nocturna, changed his style and became the murderous Night-Slayer. He killed Nightshade, even trading identities with a delirious Batman. After being betrayed one time too many times by Nocturna, Anton vowed to kill her. However, it never came to that, as Night-Slayer was captured by Catwoman. Nocturna, having been stabbed, was last seen being put into a balloon by Jason Todd which he then set off into the air.”

The whole life of luxury is effectively summed up in these panels, where Batman just seems perplexed…

Neil Gaiman's Death character totally jacked her style.  This is years earlier.

Neil Gaiman’s Death character totally jacked her style. This is years earlier.

Except Gaiman’s Death character, and eighties era Gloom Cookies in general, weren’t so fancy. It’s like Madonna having a glam-Goth phase.

I considered going for a reference to a more famous cover composition, and having her kissing our hero. It’s a cool cover, and it would have a neat retro vibe, but really, I decided not to go with it. Before getting into why I vetoed, let me first show the cover, which is gorgeous:

Oh, Batman.  Never go for the nice girls, do you?

Oh, Batman. Never go for the nice girls, do you?

Firstly, with the recent Environment Fair post, I already had the protagonist kissing a Batman villain. Really not so sure I want to make that a recurring schtick, and not so sure that I don’t. It did seem a little hot on the heels of the last such image, and I wouldn’t want to be repetitive.

Since the character was created by Doug Moench and Gene Colan, I tried to go for the Horror comics feel that Colan is well known for. It was interesting, and caused me unique problems in foreshortening to handle. Overall, I like it a lot…I feel it has a retro vibe reminiscent of that time in comics.

Other covers that I encountered while researching are these two…one that I have, and one that I don’t. They give an idea of how all over the place the pre-Crisis Bat books were…one foot still in the Silver age, the other foot in the door of really interesting compositions and complex plots.

So...Batman dated her in both his identities.  Bad plan.  They both wanted to adopt Jason Todd...Robin at the time.  Fans later voted Jason to death.

So…Batman dated her in both his identities. Bad plan. They both wanted to adopt Jason Todd…Robin at the time. Fans later voted Jason to death.

She traveled in hot air balloons, for crime.  Because that is so efficient.  it is awesome though.

She traveled in hot air balloons, for crime. Because that is so efficient. it is awesome though.

Hat related crimes, to reveal what is really a very poorly kept secret identity.  Very firmly in the Silver Age here, concept wise.

Hat related crimes, to reveal what is really a very poorly kept secret identity. Very firmly in the Silver Age here, concept wise.

So there you have it. My DC Sketch Cover Madness tribute to a character that was more or less forgotten after Crisis on Infinite Earths. They wanted to do a Batman Animated Series Episode with her, but it was scrapped…mostly because Bruce Timm’s team reconceived her as a vampire, and WB was pretty firm on, “uh…no. She can’t drink blood out of people in our cartoon.”

Go figure.

I think I’ve been thinking so much about comics history because tomorrow, True Believers…is Tales of Adequacy’s Seven Hundredth Issue. That’s a pretty big deal to me, and really speaks to the magnitude that this, a fairly silly project to begin with, has taken on. It’s a massive posting, with all kinds of art for the event. I’m glad there’s a weekend afterward, because i got ahead of schedule in the art for the site, mostly to focus on No. 700…and have only one post drawn after it.

Tomorrow…No. 700! A Mega-sized issue! Be There!

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