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Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Batman Is In Very Good Hands

Current Batman comic book writer Grant Morrison at Newsarama on Frank Miller's forthcoming Batman Vs. Al Qaeda train-wreck, Holy Terror, Batman:
First off, the idea that superhero comics should reflect the news headlines is not one I tend to subscribe to. I've always preferred using my comics to talk about the world around me in the language of symbolism and metaphor and I'm more interested in telling stories about how people behave in bizarre situations than I am in commenting on current events...while I won't pretend we all live on Sunnybrook Farm, I don't think its appropriate - particularly in trying times - to present our fictional heroes as unsmiling vengeance machines. I'd rather Batman embodied the best that secular humanism has to offer - a sour-faced, sexually-repressed, humorless, uptight, angry, and all-round grim 'n' gritty Batman would be more likely to join the Taliban surely?...Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it's likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I'd be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb 'vs' Al Qaeda.
Next, Director Christopher Nolan on the Joker in his upcoming Batman sequel, The Dark Knight:
I would certainly point to The Killing Joke but I also would point very much to the first two appearances of the Joker in the comic. If you look at where the Joker comes from there’s a very clear direction that fits what we’re doing very well.
Add Paul Dini on Detective Comics, plus another Englehart/Rogers revival mini-series on the way, and it actually starts to make up for the past 20 years of terrible, terrible Batman.

Ahhhh. It's like a cool drink of sweet sanity after crossing the desert on foot.

(On an unrelated note, I just read Miller's DK2 for the first time last week...and I believe this may be the first comic series where you can actually see the writer-artist having his nervous breakdown while he's telling the story!)
When DK2 was coming out I couldn't stand it. Some time later I read a review of the book that likened it to Kurtzman's Mad--more Superduperman than Superman, and it made a lot more sense to me. However, in the wake of All-Star Batman and Robin, and Miller's comments around Holy Terror, DK2 seems pretty ugly to me again. Miller's nowhere near as nimble as Kutrzman. And it's clear now that he's not kidding, or if he is, the joke is witlessly paranoid and angry--hey, Legman was right! This is why I'm skeptical of the Spirit movie in Miller's first-time-director hands; Eisner was corny, but at his best his comics had the grace of ballet. Frank has spent the past 20 years intentionally devolving his style and themes into those of a sloppy meat-cutter.
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