Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Quarter Bin: The "Down in Front" Challenge!

Martinex1: Today it is time for another exploration of a comic cover trope - the fallen character! This theme I found particularly enjoyable as I was able to find quite an array of covers that fit the style remarkably well.  You have undoubtedly seen this particular theme over and over again, but it may not have registered with you just how common it is.

In most examples, a hero has been battered and knocked unconscious as another character lords over the prone protagonist.  Many of the examples are eerily similar; the positions are noticeably consistent.  However, as you scroll through you will see that I added some variation on the theme with different positioning with the same impact, intention, and effect.

The challenge to you is to pick your four favorites from this imaginary spinner rack (four for the non-existent dollar) and share why you chose those comics.  Also, please comment on the layouts highlighted below; I am curious why you think the position was so frequently used back in the Bronze Age.   Cheers all!



Anonymous said...

Interesting observation Marti. I always liked the covers that portrayed the hero in peril but never really realized how often that pose was used. It almost makes you think it was one of those industry standards/tropes as you alluded to:

Editor: We need a cover. Stat!

Artist: What kind of cover?

Editor: I dunno. Here's the villain, here's the hero. Just do a "Down in Front".

I have several of the ones pictured and quite a few of them are very near and dear to my heart. As for my choices, recent discussion here has piqued my curiosity about Nick Fury. So I'll take his #8 and 15. I'll also go with Invaders #16 and 25. Those issues came along as my interest in comics was on the wane. I always wanted to like them more so they get the nod now.

Of course, if I came back later I could easily pick 4 different ones. I'm always amazed how youse guys at BITBA can find sooo many examples to fit your topics. Nice job!


Selenarch said...

I agree with Tom, this is a lot of covers, thanks for all the effort you put into it!

I own about 1/3 of these, including that Iron Man 17 which is on my wall and the first time both Tony Stark and Iron Man appear on the cover (classic Colan, with great colors). So I'll make my selections from the ones I don't have already.

1) Marvel Two-in-One King-Size Annual #2. As a cover, I've never really liked it, because of how crowded all the elements are. The four or five different elements to the title, the small side head-shots crowded two-across, and the main image forced into something that looks like a panel you would see on an ad page inside. It certainly couldn't be expanded to take the cover on its own. I almost think that an exclamatory word bubble from Ben Grimm along the bottom might actually have helped. But it's an important issue and well worth a quarter.

2) Metamorpho 14. I own no Metamorpho and know nothing about this book, so I'm curious. I like how all the elements are tiered with the top and bottom indicating that despite their horizontal placement they are within a perfect circle.

3) Aquaman. That looks to be Aquagirl (or "Aquachick" as they call her). She appears to be falling into the illumination from below, which is very dramatic and very cool.

4) Avengers #56. Famously, Bucky dies in an explosion way up high, so there should just be messy little bits of him in a lot of scattered places. So I kinda want to know what's going on here. The perspective looking down at that triangle composition, for me, wins out over the frontal presentation of a similar triangle of Green Lantern 87 whose concentrated color palate on a white background really confronts the viewer.

Thanks again for assembling such a great collection!


Anonymous said...

Yay, Warlock #11!!!

Also fond of that FF #206, I really liked that Skrull aging ray storyline as a kid (and issue 214 that you have right next to it is a nice bookend for the story!).

-david p.

Mike Wilson said...

Hmmm, Spider-Man seems to feature in a lot of these, If I was picking four, I'd probably go with Batman & the Outsiders, DD vs Gladiator, and a couple of Spideys ... the MTUs with Iron Man and Black Widow were both pretty good, if I remember right.

Killraven said...

I had a whole host of the comics shown. I especially remember that Vandal Savage kick to Flash's nether regions, Owww!
I'll pick ones I didn't own;

Atom and Hawkman. Looks like a fun one.
Sub-Mariner #18- Namor down! I got to see how Triton did that.
Nick Fury #15- Like Tom said, time to give these a shot.
Marvel Team-Up #3- Im always up for a good Morbius story.

Love seeing those covers!

Humanbelly said...

Another great, visual feast of a post--- SO well done!

I have a good chunk of these issues too. Even so-- going on pure instant-reaction, my choices would be:

Nick Fury #8 (NO idea who/what that thing is-- but the inherent grace of the figure is mesmerizing).

Aquaman #43(!) MAN-- yet again, Silver Age Aquaman for the cool-cover win!

Deadman-- This one popped up in house ads, IIRC-- and as absurd as the threat of a paunchy guy with a prosthetic hook is (when you think about it at all), the image plays right into that memory of the old "hook dangling from the car door handle" story. (Also, it's a memorably awkward attack stance--)

ROM #43!-- Not a Rom fan, me-- but this is a great cover! It conveys the emotionality of that spririt being released from its cybernetic housing. (Correct?)

One of the most common visual tendencies in these covers that I see is that the POV is from down there on (or near) the floor with the defeated individual. We are in the position of being on the receiving end of the threat as well-- no hope in sight! (And heck, we're even AWAKE for it! Wake up, Spidey, WAKE UP!!!)

A notably frequent variation on that is then a view from, like, a balcony or catwalk-- somewhat up above, but not directly overhead. Like the Bucky cover, and several of the ones with the hero caught in a spotlight or searchlight. It's an inherently theatrical POV-- like looking down on a Greek tragedy.

I would also totally believe that this kind of cover was used as a go-to standard-- possibly even with a "model" sketch for artists to work with. Kinda reminds me of the abundance of Pieta (sp?) covers and "Gunslinger" covers, yeah?


Redartz said...

Amazing how many Gil Kane covers are represented there! Of coure, ol' Gil was very skilled at foreshortening...

Okay, first pick is that Secret Origins Flash issue. Nick Cardy? Beautiful.
Next, that Adams Deadman is a must. Had the original, once upon a time.
Third, that classic Avengers 59 with the rather bizarre op art circular background.
Finally, Warlock- can't pass up a Starlin gem like that...

Jack Alberti said...

Yes! quite a bit of Gil Kane - no surprise! Romita and Kane dominated Marvel covers!

This post is a true labor of love! Seeing these covers, together, sure brings back a rush of memories.

Excellent observation regarding, "Down in Front." My favorites are MTU #72, MTU #3, DD #81, and Capt. Marvel #34! Truth to tell - simply my favorites as a kid. But, it plays into an observation - the appeal is seeing your favorite hero in such a vulnerable state. How will he get out of this? All hope is gone!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Nick Fury 8 - Has always, always, always captivated me as a cover. Something so beautiful yet disturbing hand dangerous at the same time!

Any DD cover from 80 onward rocks my world too! And that's that!

And if I may diverge.., Yes! Kane did a ton covers such that I had Kane burn out and actually did NOT want to see his work any more. And only a few years earlier with ASM 101, 102 , etc. that man was making my eyeballs go bonkers like a Krazy Kat clock in overdrive LOL.

Anonymous said...

What about Fantastic Four 43? That's a great example of a "fallen heroes" cover.

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