I love this Steve Rude piece that serves as a cover for the Gibbons/Rude World’s Finest. Superman, confident in the warm and safe sunlight, stands atop an eagle (justice) and sends forth doves (peace). Batman stands at night in front of the artificial rays of the Bat signal. It shines in the same manner as the sun that surrounds it on top and bottom. Batman as a hero is a subtle balance which many writers and artists fail to keep, plunging him into the darkness of an almost antihero.
With the composition of this painting, Rude shows Batman to be carrying on the same work as Superman, only at night and in nighttime forms. For Batman, the eagle of justice is a gargoyle, Gothic protector against “a superstitious lot.” His doves are bats, winged creatures able to move in the dark. Batman and Superman aren’t so different. Rude shows them to be unified by light. Superman radiates its warmth by example, and Batman shines it into the neglected corners of a dark city.
Some of us are more inclined toward Superman. We like the “sun” and feel led to share its warmth. But others, and even all of us at some time or another, have Batman moments in which we need to confront a darkness that simply won’t respond to warmth. In those moments, it’s important not to succumb to the darkness we’re battling in the absence of the sun. Remember that you’re still shining the light, even if sometimes it’s the bat signal.