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BUY IT THIS ISSUE
COMIC THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN Frank Miller, Lynn Varley (DCI O...
in The Dark Knight Returns, writer-artist Frank
Miller finally returns to the scene of the crime to take a second shot at the caped crusader myth. First time around, Miller recast one of the first superheroes to appear on the pages of American comics giant DC as an ageing psychotic, whose war on crime was far from straightforwardly heroic. Batman’s transformation from television’s camp clown to violent vigilante was no less than revolutionary. The Dark Knight Returns demythologised the costumed superhero; the effects have been seen not just in subsequent comics, but also in Tim Burton’s Batman films and the more recent X- Men movie. In the mid-80$, broadsheets and style mags pronounced that with The Dark Knight Returns (and Alan Moore’s The Watchmen and Art Spiegleman’s Mause) comics had grown up.
Once again Miller has co-opted Batman for his own aesthetic and political purposes
F ifteen years after giving Batman a radical face-lift
So much for the history lesson. Miller - who’s no slouch in that area having also pen and inked 300, the story of the Spartan army’s battle against the Roman Empire - would have it that we’ve learned nothing over the years. Bruce Wayne’s secret war on urban crime has come to nought: where The Dark Knight’s Gotham City was a corrupt metropolis, three years on in The Dark Knight Strikes Again America has become one big totalitarian state, run by a government whose president is nothing more than a computer generated image (Dubya Jr, perhaps?) This time, Batman is taking on America’s government/military/business nexus. Miller has always liked to spice up his men in tights with politics.
But though Miller continues to dramatise the same old conflict, albeit on a larger scale, times have changed. Fifteen years ago Miller brought on the superhero revolution, and now he’s up against a comic industry that’s co—opted the independent talent and publishes radical material as the norm. Glasgow’s comic scribe Grant Morrison has, for example, reworked DC rival Marvel’s top-selling title, The X-Men.
Maybe Miller’s work is no longer unique, but that makes it no less vital (there are still 20 adolescent
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87 Return To Castle Wolfenstein
88 Final Fantasy
89 Big ‘l'rain, Prince Naseem
91 Retail and spirituality
93 Oloroso, China China
superhero titles to every one Dark Knight). With this new book, Miller has broken with the shadowy film noir look of the first. His colourist (and wife) Lynn Varley gives her husband’s bold, chunky inking a visual makeover, electrifying it with dynamic colour work. Miller has all but abandoned cityscape backgrounds - rooftops, rain-slicked streets — allowing Varley to replace them with abstract shocks and swirls of colour reminiscent of street graffiti and dizzying in effect. Once again Miller has successfully co-opted Batman for his own aesthetic and political purposes (and he’s no doubt doing likewise with his adaptation of another of his graphic novels, Batman: Year Zero, which he’s been developing with filmmaker Darren Requiem ForA Dream Aronofsky). The Dark Knight Strikes Again is book one of three, and possibly a new classic in the making. (Miles Fielder)
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