Posts Tagged ‘dark knight returns’

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Bat To The Future

March 21, 2016

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Author’s Note: With BuffaloComedy.com having gone the way of the dodo (where this piece originally appeared in January of 2015) and Batman Vs. Superman just 5 agonizing days away from its theatrical release (which I’m not laying any bets on until I see it), I  thought now might be a good time to revisit my reflections on the 75th Anniversary Year of the Dark Knight Detective.  This is an essay from the upcoming book Travesty.   

By the time you read this, the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics (in 1939, for those of you who don’t have a calculator nearby) will have come and gone. He’s a character who has endured the test of time, and you may know Detective Comics by their abbreviation: DC. I caught hell some years ago for defending the cultural importance of the impending theatrical release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). It was a week-long troll battle in a lesser publication and I hate to be the guy who said I told you so, but I was right, Buffalo. That film changed the superhero film forever and demolished most (if not all) box office records. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. What follows is a personal recollection/celebration of the mythos. Dates and citations have been left out, messed up or guessed at because the author is lazy.

I’ve been a Batman fan almost all of my life. As a child, I got into the comics around the same time that I caught the syndicated reruns for the high-camp television version with Adam West, three separate Catwomen and the famed ‘Bat-usi’. This led of course to Batman:The Movie, which we have to thank for the ‘Bat Shark Repellant Spray’ incident. The utility belt can only hold so much. The Caped Crusader has gone through a lot of incarnations over the decades he’s traveled through, which may be one of the secrets behind his staying power. While it was corny and cheesy (‘camp’ is an ironic form of comedy that borders on being an endangered species), the tv series hit home for at least a few seasons.

The ’80s was a great time to get into comics since the medium was growing up in terms of maturity and readership. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns made such a gritty impact on the pulp multiverse that college courses are still taught dissecting its importance. The story zeroes in on Batman coming out of retirement in order to stomp out the threat of a mutant gang, subvert government opposition to superheroes and to square off with Superman. Miller followed this up with Batman: Year One, a mini-series that focused on the roots of billionaire Bruce Wayne’s lifelong war on crime.

Toward the end of the decade, comic icon Alan Moore applied his craft to The Killing Joke, a one-shot story where the reader is taken through a retelling of The Joker’s origin, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter is crippled by same, the Commissioner’s sanity is tried by The Joker and Batman’s is questioned at the close of the arc with a punchline and a recurring pattern of raindrops. The Joker postulates throughout the book that the difference between sanity and insanity is just one bad day. Batman tries to prove him wrong.

In the early ’90s, mainstay Grant Morrison took a turn with Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth. I re-read this book almost every year and always come away with something new in this layered psychological examination of the aberrant psyche. Batman infiltrates the asylum (which the inmates have taken control of spear-headed by the Joker) and tries to keep his head while everyone else’s is long gone. This is interspersed with the story of how Arkham Asylum came to be, which is quite haunting to say the least.

Meanwhile, in the single issues, there was the groundbreaking A Death In The Family, a story arc that was revolutionary because DC set up 1-800 lines so that readers could vote on the fate of Robin at the hands of (you guessed it) The Joker. For you younger readers, people used to have phones in their house attached to the walls that we called ‘Land Lines’. A 1-800 number was a ‘toll free’ number that residents could ‘dial’ on said Land Lines. Spoiler alert (not sure if it’s a spoiler alert twenty five years later): the readers killed off Robin. Luckily, nobody ever stays dead in comics for some reason, and that particular Boy Wonder (there have been around four) came back in Under The Red Hood.

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Frank Miller Can Blow Me! (from Mockery, 2011 Doubt It Publishing)

October 6, 2015
Miller takes another payday from DC Comics for this fall's upcoming mini-series The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

Miller takes another payday from DC Comics for this fall’s upcoming mini-series The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

Author’s Note: ‘*Fill-In-The-Blank* Can Blow Me’ was a regular column (and for all I know, still is) at Acid Logic, the site I’ve written and contributed to since the early 2000’s.  So I was trying to write for that format. With the pre-release controversy machine already gearing up for The Dark Knight III: Master Race, I figured this’d be a good time to post the following click-bait.  First-time visitor to the site?  Then please feel free to Like, Subscribe and stick around for awhile!  -Tom

Originally appeared on AcidLogic.com on August 1st, 2008.

Frank Miller can toss my salad and gargle with the creamed corn. Every one of his ‘great works’ is going downhill at the speed of sound the longer he keeps coming out with new projects. And by projects, I mean the realm of film that he’s somehow blown his own way into.

I love Batman, but I’m not touching the new All Star Batman compilation by Miller with a ten foot pole. My comics retailer told me to buy it and that I’d hate it. Why in the fuck would I buy some piece of garbage for thirty dollars knowing full well that it was going to upset me? Apparently, Miller takes his disgust for the franchise that made him the overly-compromised whore he is today and ‘turns the series on it’s ear’ by ‘shifting the paradigm’. Those phrases are about as original as anything he’s done in the last fifteen years, so they felt warranted.

Frank Miller has lost his motherfucking mind. The Dark Knight Strikes Back had an uninspired title, poor computer generated artwork and a storyline that was more brass balls than character arc. It was a sad, pale imitation of it’s predecessor. I’ve explained these books in full detail many times over, so you’re not getting a synopsis here because I’m too fired up.

In his old age, he’s become a paranoid delusional maniac with a full tilt delusion of grandeur. Sin City the ‘film’ may be a wet dream for frat boys and tough guys, but it didn’t carry over well onto celluloid. 300 was such an obnoxious case study in slow-motion overuse that I wanted to drive out to Hollywood and smack the director in the face with my dick. After giving him the ‘mushroom bruce’, I’d walk over to Frank Miller’s house, where he could commence to blowing my ‘soup can’ of a cock.

Sin City (the black and white graphic novel series) wasn’t really that hot, either. Take every pathetic dime store novel stereotype you’ve ever read, suck the ingenuity that a great crime novelist like Chandler or Hammett would infuse the story with, fuck that story in the ass, water it down some more, give it some ‘hardcore’ balls-out abstract artistic leanings in the panels, take a steaming shot between seven or so perfect bound collections, smear your taint-cheese right at the anti-climactic stupidity of each interconnected ‘story’ in this city, and you have something that resembles a grade school-serial-killer in training’s circle jerk session with a cat he just tortured and drowned in a barrel of lye. Over-rated tripe.

And now, this Christmas, Miller takes the director’s chair a second time to torture the world by fucking up the very spirit of Will Eisner’s Spirit. How fucking dare you, Frank. Climb a chair, slip through a noose and take your own life. Is that too harsh? Too goddamned bad. You’re embarrassing yourself and the rest of the comic enthusiast macrocosm in tinsel town. The last ten years of your artistic life have been a pathetic, flaccid facsimile of your former glory.

You’ve peaked. Call it day. Hang up your hat, kick off your shoes and go home. I don’t like you anymore. My friend doesn’t like you either. Rip that line from Star Wars and work it into the next sequel that you whore yourself out for with DC, you little bitch! Ooh, but you make me mad!

Many writers write their best work before they become financially successful. You’re obviously on the other end of that spectrum. Trust me, I’m not jealous. I make decent money doing what I do, I have leverage where it matters and at the end of the day I sleep on a bed of residual and commission cash (from freelancing and books) with a woman who has (and always will have) the ass of a 16 year old cheerleading captain in Catholic school. Both of these factors give me enough werewithal and gumption to write another twenty books, each one successively better than the next.

Dark Knight Returns is looked upon as one of the most important comic legends in the history of the medium right up there with Alan Moore’s The Watchmen. Alan Moore continues to break every mold and genre he’s compared to while ever-striving to grow the collective audience for the artistic field. Miller continues to back himself into a corner like a half-wit obsessively slapping his own flimsy prick up against a corner.

Batman: Year One is the template upon which Batman Begins was drawn from, and for good reason. Daredevil: Elektra changed my life and the lives of many others with it’s gritty artwork (also drawn by Miller) and it’s haunting ruminations on unrequited love and the prospect of one-time resurrection. After that, Miller has been going downhill faster than Barrack Obama in a soap box derby cotton gin on wheels. He’s done. Finished. Washed up, whored out and stretched to the point of being worse than a contract soap opera writer. If you could travel back in time and see how inspiring and original and ground-breaking you were, you’d climb a clock tower, install a diving board and then jack-knife onto the concrete fifty feet below.

Listen, Frank. If you can’t strive to improve with each literary or cinematic outing, then you’re done. Throw in the towel. Drop your pencils, your word processor, your agent, and then I’ll drop my pants and stuff all seven and a half inches of my ‘babie’s arm holding an apple’ into the back of your tonsils. What’s the smartest thing that ever came out of Frank Miller’s mouth? My dick.

-Yeah, I stole that joke. Just writing about Miller makes me a derivative hack, too, so I’m stopping now to invest my creative energies into something infinitely more satisfying than meditations on a nobody. You fucked up, Miller. Now wipe the spunk of your chin and go away.

Tom ‘Brazilian wax’ Waters

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