Very sad to hear that the legendary Joe Kubert has passed on. This was the image that immediately sprang to mind when I decided I wanted to post something he drew here on Tumblr. Possibly not one that most Kubert fans would have chosen, nor one that even I would hold up as being most representative of his work. But I came to realize once I went looking for it online that it’s the perfect way to pay tribute to him.
The splash page above is from Justice League of America (vol. 1) #200. Like most Justice League stories of that era, it features the team splitting up for solo or small-group adventures before coming back together at the end to wrap things up. Since this was an anniversary issue, they recruited a pantheon of legendary artists to illustrate the solo adventures. In addition to Kubert, they got Gil Kane to do the chapter featuring Green Lantern and The Atom; Jim Aparo, the chapter with Aquaman and Red Tornado; Dick Giordano, Wonder Woman and Zatanna; Carmine Infantino, The Flash and Elongated Man; Brian Bolland, Batman, Green Arrow, and Black Canary; and, wrapping it all up, George Perez. (And also Pat Broderick, doing the Martian Manhunter/Firestorm chapter. Nothing against Broderick, but he’s not in the same league as those other guys.)
And those other guys aren’t in Kubert’s. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all titans of the industry, and justly held up as among the greatest artists ever to work in the field. Which is why, when I did a search on Justice League #200, I recognized all the images and was able to identify all the artists at a glance. But the image above by Kubert… that one I remembered. When I saw it on my laptop screen, it looked exactly as I pictured it in my head. So what better image to remember him by, which by itself is more memorable than the combined efforts of six other all-time greats and Pat Broderick?
(Incidentally, in case you’re wondering what the heck is going on here, Hawkman is trying to stop Superman from recovering a kryptonite meteor. Knowing that kryptonite is deadly to Superman and that he was therefore likely to send in some of his Superman robots to get it, and assuming by way of comic book logic that those robots might be more vulnerable to ancient weaponry than to lasers and what have you, Hawkman has armed himself with a mace and other medieval armaments. And in fact, he successfully destroyed two Superman robots just so. But the third Superman robot to arrive turns out to be the real Superman wearing transparent lead armor, resulting in the scene depicted above, after which Superman literally punches Hawkman into orbit.)
If you’d like to see some other great Joe Kubert splash pages, the Daily Splash Page blog has featured several, including an amazing double splash of Tarzan fighting a lion.