Monday, October 11, 2010

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns pt 3

It's been a few weeks. But after some technical glitches, I finally made it onto the Legion of Dudes to help them discuss book 3 of Frank Miller's seminal work - Batman: the Dark Knight Returns. The link to the podcast can be found here.

And below are the notes I had for the episode:

- The voice-over in these first four panels perfectly gets across the character of Superman and of Batman. Simple and effective use of language. Miller is very good at boiling down the essence of these legendary characters.
He also has yet to show Superman in panel, giving us his POV in these shots, letting the image build in reader’s minds, making him larger than life, similar to how he’s treated Batman in the book as well.
- PAGE 3: Again, Miller utilizes the voice-over to quickly give readers a rundown of where Batman is at this point in his career.
- PAGE 4: Nice shout-out to Corto Maltese, the series by Hugo Pratt
- PAGES 5-8: Miller balances things well in these pages, introducing Superman (who has also not been seen for some years, apparently) through the new stories, which continues the back and forth of perspectives (the “acid” newsstand operator and the conservative advertising agent) while moving the story forward and exhibiting the atmosphere of the city through the back and forth of the newscasters (the one reciting the Superman mantra while the other warning her off that).
*And the way Miller evokes Superman as a streak of light, makes one think of a heavenly being, one that’s above us all, our savior, which is how he is perceived – a perception that Bruce doesn’t buy into and believes is a danger.
- The Soviet/U.S. tensions over the Corto Maltese incident mirrored the real-life tensions in the world at the time.
- PAGE 10: What a SPLASH page. My favorite of the series.
- PAGE 13: Thanks to the age lines Miller has given Joker, and Miller’s art style, this is one #$%^ing creepy Joker.
- PAGE 14: Our first look at Clark Kent, but still no Superman.
*Miller’s costuming, the use of cowboy boots, adds to the link he wants to give between Superman and the United States.
*And again, his voice-over perfectly captures the feelings Bruce has toward Clark
- PAGE 15: Reagan’s quote: “We’ve got God on our side . . . or the next best thing, anyway,” is very much like the Watchmen line: “Superman exists, and he’s American,” which we discovered in the backmatter was a misquote. It should have been, “God exists, and he’s American.”
- PAGE 16: Very cool we find out what happened to the other heroes, though at the time I first read this, I had no idea who Diana or Hal were.
- PAGES 18-25: “It’s been twenty years since I had to fight cops.” Again, the voice-overs are concise but tell us so much.
In this fight with the cops, we see again that Batman is not the Batman we know. He is old. He can’t manage against such odds. He needs Robin. By having this new Robin, Miller has given himself a natural way to get Batman out of the jams he puts himself in. It works so well.
- PAGE 26: Finally, SUPERMAN
- PAGE 29: I love how Batman is doing the Sherlock Holmes thing – dressing up in costume to get the information he needs. Very cool, and not done nearly enough in his regular series.
- PAGE 38: Another brilliant splash page. And the few lines on Batman’s face and the way he draws his teeth (all gritted) really shows that he’s old and having to work hard to keep doing what he is doing. Miller is complementing the story he created with his art, giving us a bigger, older Batman with his linework.
- THE FINAL BATMAN/JOKER BATTLE: It’s the little moments that make this fight shine:
o Joker’s dialogue: “Out of your mind –” & “This is too weird.” showcase that this is a different kind of fight for these two.
o Batman telling the boy to “watch his language”
- The Batman says it will all end tonight, implying he will kill Joker. In the end, he paralyzes the Joker, and the Joker finishes himself off, knowing that Batman will be pinned for his murder when he actually committed suicide. BUT:
- Did Batman not go through with it, or would he have if given the chance by the Joker? Did he lose his nerve?


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