Monday, August 23, 2010

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns pt 2

So, the Legion of Dudes released their second episode examining the Dark Knight Returns, analyzing - appropriately - the second issue of this landmark series. To listen to or download the episode check here.

and below, you'll find my notes for this same issue. I'll be guesting on the third episode and am really anxious to discuss this series with the Dudes. Hopefully, I won't clam up like I did my previous time I was on with these guys.



- ** the 16-panel grid Miller uses is similar to the 9-grid from Watchmen. It allows him to pace the story very specifically, gives him the opportunity to create splash pages that MEAN SOMETHING, plus using the 16-grid in this story gives it a claustrophobic feel, which fits perfectly to the type of story and to the thematic elements of Bruce Wayne’s journey in Dark Knight, in that one could interpret that he’s feeling claustrophobic from being only Bruce Wayne, unable to get “out of his box” and follow his natural instinct, which is to be Batman and take care of his city.
- Lynn Varley’s coloring showcases this is not a typical comic story. The opening page, is all grays as Jim Gordon thinks about the past, wades through it, seeing it in every corner of the city, but when the present interrupts, there’s a small burst of color from the visor of the Mutant gang member.
- Is this the first mention of Sarah Essen (though we might not have known that at the time)

- That opening page also makes for a nice contrast when we first see Carrie in the Robin costume. The red really pops because of this set up with the coloring.

- PAGE 3: “harmful influence on the children of Gotham,” which has been a cry from fans examining the Batman & Robin dynamic over the years.

- PAGE 8: “Should’ve gotten out of the way, Spot –”
Batman crashing through the wall – Miller is cementing the “legend” of Batman with this book. The way he was re-introduced in the first issue (glimpses) and the way he got Harvey at the end of that issue, and now his one-man war on crime and the way he does it, it’s all about creating a LEGEND.

- PAGE 10: I like how Chuck Brick, the politician has the exact same look in every panel, just like actual politicians

- PAGE 11: This interrogation scene, where the panels are black, that was brilliant. I remember being blown away by that when I first read it – punctuated by “the scream alone was worth it,” on the following page. Hard core Batman.

- PAGE 15: Miller’s storytelling is deft in many places, particularly in the two panels where the newscaster tells of the suicide of General Briggs. In that second panel we get the reason he sold the weapons to the Mutant Gang (in order to pay for a rare medical treatment for his wife, which had been denied by his insurance company), which is also a similar motivation used in Daredevil: Born Again, for the honest cop who helps frame Matt Murdock.

- The attack on the Mutant Gang
- Love the Batmobile
- Man, like Watchmen, I feel the pain from this fight, and I worried about how Batman was going to come out of this. Is this the first time we’ve seen him with a VERY REAL CHANCE OF DYING???

- PAGE 28: Again, Miller introduces a major hero character – Superman – without actually showing the reader. We get just a glimpse. But it’s well done, the way in which the fluttering American flag morphs into Superman’s S-shield, symbolizing that Superman IS America.

- I like all the vignettes of people inspired by Batman. They’re all distinct. I also appreciate the irony Miller infuses this section with when the one that is successful (the shop owner stopping a mugging by a mutant gang member) does not make the news, since it wasn’t violent enough (like the porn theater gunman and the former boxer dressing up in a batsuit)

- The second fight with the Mutant Gang Leader is where we again see the methodical Batman (his initial defeat being the impulsive Bruce Wayne from the opening of the story). The internal monologue shows us his planning, while again exhibiting his age in his assessment of the situation, allowing the audience to relate to Batman.

- AND, the manner in which Batman goes about setting up the fight – asking Gordon to release the Mutant Leader, so he could come right into his trap – is Miller once more cementing the “legendary” status of Batman

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