Monday, April 23, 2007

Reader Pop Art # 1

Our first reader-chosen pop art selection arrives on the blog courtesy of Dr. Howard Margolin, the host of Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction. Thanks for starting us off in great shape, Howard!

He writes:

This cover always struck me as one of the finest DC ever turned out. Drawn by the incomparable Neal Adams, it has the same background color as his classic "Superman Breaks Free" from issue 233, and redone later as a Power Records cover and the cover of Action 485, but this is the opposite side of Superman. The shading on Superman's costume as he leans forward enhances the effect of his skin turning green as he dies of Kryptonite Poisoning. Also, remember that this was before the era of multi-layered computer coloring, so the interplay of light and shadow (e.g. the light glinting off his shoulders) was particularly effective. Plus, his statement, "I'm taking you with me," given his vow never to take a life, was shocking to me at the time. Can't say I recall the story at this point, but this cover is forever etched in my memory.

When I study this cover, first-and-foremost I see an expression of rage - which isn't usual for Superman. His fists are coiled, balled up in anger. Notice too how the dialogue balloon on the right side of the cover is jagged and sharp, emphasizing the rage inherent in the Man of Steel's words ("I'M TAKING YOU WITH ME - all caps!). Also, as the cover is laid out, there seems to be a source of light (like a sun or something...) behind Superman, I'd guess at shoulder level. An intense light...gradually getting less intense as it moves away from him. By featuring it behind him, and in that position, it makes Superman the fulcrum of intensity in the composition. As though his anger is creating light - energy - itself. I think the feeling Howard describes - shock - is exactly what the cover intends to convey; the notion that Superman is mad as hell and about to kill someone. Everything in this cover, the jagged balloon, the intense light behind him, the all-caps, the balled fists, convey this notion. Also, the reflection of green on Superman's face tends to make him look even more murderous and abnormal, which is important to the idea that the universe portrayed here is disordered, wrong (hence, shocking or surprising). On a very basic level, this is also a look at idealized masculinity turned inexplicably angry and violent.

Don't forget, I want to see your selections of great pop art and feature 'em on the blog! Send your images and your feelings about the art to my e-mail at

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