Wednesday, October 8, 2008

a waste of ink

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again

So much for the genius of Frank Miller. I appreciate that this was 2002 before Batman Begins, and criticizing the vapidity of the government, election process, and social structure of the US was not only in vogue, but warranted. But this graphic novel was unintelligible and I nearly put it down several times. Certainly it would have served me better to have read Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again returns first, but I didn’t have any control over what holds come in at the library first. If I read the original and enlightenment dawns I’m more than happy to eat my words.

Frank Miller was always known to me as a writer rather than an artist, so I was surprised to see him as both writer and artist. I’m sorry to say, I don’t think much of his drawing style. I can see that his sketching skills are quite good, but I don’t think he inks—that Lynn Varley colorizes on a computer is obvious, and I think Miller is relying too much on the textures of the colorization. Consequently, though the blocking of the panels is quite dynamic, the figures come out looking quite matte. He only seems to be able to draw one woman, over and over—to be fair, Rosetti was the same—and to be frank she looks like Jessica Alba.

About the only redeeming features I can find out of the complicated, self-referential story are Wonder Woman and Catgirl. It’s an amalgam of practically all the Superheroes Marvel and DC have ever produced. They all seem damaged and to hate each other. Superman screams obscenities at Batman who is wizened and supposedly dead. Not really being a fan of Marvel’s superheroes I confess to being bored.

Book One begins with the rescue of Professor Palmer (The Atom) by Catgirl, a sixteen-year-old in a cat costume with roller skates. She surpasses Batgirl and Catwoman in sheer efficiency and is really the heart of the show. The narration is garbled out of sheer lack of variety in voice (even all the narration bubbles are homogenous) and too many characters. A big deal is made of Superman and Wonder Woman’s daughter Lara, but better still is a spread covering several pages during which Superman and Wonder Woman, wrapped in each other’s cloaks, fall to earth.

There’s rather a chilling revelation at the end, but personally, I’d rather just have the real Joker.

Well, it’s safe to say I either have no taste or this volume’s importance has been grossly inflated.

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