Batman and Robin #1
Cover by Frank Quitely
Colors by Alex Sinclair
It can be interesting to see what it is that defines successful covers. The route to a cover, good, bad, or iconic can take many different paths even when using the same techniques. Though in terms of clever comic book artists, one of the people capable of simple yet dynamic covers is Frank Quitely. Whether it’s the first cover to New X-Men, pretty much any cover to All-Star Superman, or most recently Pax Americana, Quitely is capable of creating iconic covers. One of my favorites of all time is this: the cover to the very first issue of Batman and Robin.
Sidestepping the issue itself, the cover composition is a work of art. The comic was a callback to the ‘66 Batman tv show, and the image itself hearkens back to that. With a smiling Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin, how could it not? While it would have been weird for Bruce Wayne to smile, that simple lighthearted grin and closed arms by Dick suggests a different Batman, and while Damian was a bit more of a scowly Robin, the simple fact of a ten year old boy on the cover invites a different tone from his immediate predecessor Tim Drake.
That being said, the bright colors pop in the background on behalf of Alex Sinclair, the (at the time) new flying Batmobile with the ‘66 colors, and on the costumes of Dick and Damian themselves. All of these elements combine to give the cover a retro feel, while likewise moving it forward from the grimdark anger that had defined Batman for the last 20 years up till that point. All while reminding us that in the past we can find ideas on how to move forward.