[personal profile] history79 posting in [community profile] scans_daily



A.V. CLUB: So you actually consciously set out to change things in the comics industry?

FRANK MILLER: Well, I set out to remark upon them. And seeing how all these heroes had been castrated since the 1950s, and just how pointless they seemed to be... In this perfect world of comic books, which was what it was back then, why would people dress up in tights to fight crime?

A.V. CLUB: Because there wasn't anything bad enough going on back then to justify that extremism?

FRANK MILLER: It was just a bunch of goofy villains. It was 1985 when I started working on this, and I thought, "What kind of world would be scary enough for Batman?" And I looked out my window.




15.5 pages of 48







































Date: 2017-02-20 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] scorntx
Gee, Frank Millar sure loves cutting away to newscasts all the freaking time.

The line about not speaking to Dick doesn't really jibe with the later... "developments" of Frank's writing.
It's almost funny. Almost.

The way Bruce acts towards the mutants, seeing them as Joe Chill... Bruce Wayne's got more issues than the mere split personality he's clearly got going.
Guy's not healthy even without the Bat.
Makes a person wonder if Miller's meaning is the Batman persona is the saner one.
(Wouldn't be a surprise.)

Isn't it slightly alarming that of forty-eight pages in an issue, this is a selection of fifteen and it still gets the entire gist across.
That Miller sure loves him some decompression.
(Wondering how much of those forty-eight consists of talking heads yammering back and forth.)

A future blighted not only by a rise in violent crime, but the continued existence of 80s fashion trends.
Poor sods.

And that Wolper.
I get the character is meant to be obnoxious, and idiotic, and deserving of whatever fate is inevitably going to befall him, but...
He goes beyond simple unlikableness. He's not a character that it's possible to like to dislike, he's just completely irritating in every way.

Also (last point, promise), the art isn't good in most places, but that panel of Bruce revealing he's got no mustache anymore?
That's a good panel.

Date: 2017-02-20 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tcampbell1000
"One-third is enough to get the gist" is sort of the premise of Scans Daily in a nutshell, though, isn't it? This does cover most of the most memorable scenes, but I wouldn't say the stuff not seen here was wasted space. "Decompression" is a more modern term that's better applied to serial entertainment where not much happens in a 22-page monthly installment than a four-issue series of 48-page installments, which can be more deliberately paced.

Date: 2017-02-20 04:47 am (UTC)
cyberghostface: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cyberghostface
Yeah I think Stephen King said it best here:

If all of the story is there, one might ask, then why bother? Isn't it just indulgence after all? It better not be; if it is, then I have spent a large portion of my life wasting my time. As it happens, I think that in really good stories, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. If that were not so, the following would be a perfectly acceptable version of "Hansel and Gretel":

Hansel and Gretel were two children with a nice father and a nice mother. The nice mother died, and the father married a bitch. The bitch wanted the kids out of the way so she'd have more money to spend on herself. She bullied her spineless, soft-headed hubby into taking Hansel and Gretel into the woods and killing them. The kids' father relented at the last moment, allowing them to live so they could starve to death in the woods instead of dying quickly and mercifully at the blade of his knife. While they were wandering around, they found a house made out of candy. It was owned by a witch who was into cannibalism. She locked them up and told them that when they were good and fat, she was going to eat them. But the kids got the best of her. Hansel shoved her into her own oven. They found the witch's treasure, and they must have found a map, too, because they eventually arrived home. When they got there, Dad gave the bitch the boot and they lived happily ever after. The End.

I don't know what you think, but for me, that version's a loser. The story is there, but it's not elegant. It's like the Cadillac with the chrome stripped off and the paint sanded down to dull metal. It goes somewhere, but it ain't, you know, boss.
Edited Date: 2017-02-20 04:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-02-20 07:59 pm (UTC)
lamashtar: Shun the nonbelievers! Shun-na! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamashtar
And then someone posts all the allowable pages of the mother and the getting lost in the woods but YOU REALLY WANTED TO POST THE ONE PANEL OF THE WITCH GETTING SHOVED IN THE OVEN.

Date: 2017-02-20 09:05 pm (UTC)
thanekos: Yoshikage Kira as Kosaku Kawajiri, after the second arrow. (Default)
From: [personal profile] thanekos
historySEVENTYNIIIIIINE

Date: 2017-02-21 04:01 am (UTC)
starwolf_oakley: (Default)
From: [personal profile] starwolf_oakley
In some panels Volper looks like F. Murray Abraham. To such a degree I wondered if that was what Miller was going for. Not so much here, though.

Date: 2017-02-20 03:07 am (UTC)
walkingthroughforest: (Default)
From: [personal profile] walkingthroughforest
An absolute masterpiece. Just as impactful 30 years later. We can debate all day about the legacy of this piece with the comic book industry, and even the DKR sequels. But taken on it's own? Easily one of the greatest pieces of graphic fiction ever to grace our pages.

Date: 2017-02-20 04:42 am (UTC)
cyberghostface: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cyberghostface
Yeah it's easily one of the best Batman stories ever.

Date: 2017-02-20 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tcampbell1000
This was, bar none, Miller's finest work, and one of the best stories ever told in superhero comics. And like almost every superhero comics story that is old, famous and good, it has inspired absolutely terrible knockoffs and imitations, some of them from Miller himself.

What dates it most obviously, in a modern reading, is the TV satire. This will date me as a complete Old, but it's hard to convey to anyone born after 1985 just how refreshing Miller's original TV panels were. He was hardly the first to satirize TV in comics (MAD had a 33-year head start) but his formalist approach was something genuinely new, and it gave the story a scope and cultural resonance it would have been hard to achieve any other way. A lot of it still works, because the style of reporting Miller satirized is still something of a baseline, even in a more fragmented media environment that includes Fox News and the Internet.

I'm not sure if it was because Miller himself was more flexible in his thinking or because he had to submit to a lot more editing (I suspect the latter), but Dark Knight Returns lets itself doubt its own ideology in a way that's highly refreshing, and almost totally absent in Miller's later work. Batman here is a figure to be celebrated, but also pitied: he's ultimately the other scarred half in Two-Face's new coin, someone who can't help what he is despite wishing he could. The "both sides are sort of right but mostly wrong" scenes here still largely work, and the attempt to reach across the aisle is something I sorely miss, especially when I pick up anything Miller wrote after 1988 or so. (He did do other good things after that, but none that could be said to attempt anything like political balance.)
Edited Date: 2017-02-20 05:46 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-02-20 06:28 am (UTC)
dragontail: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dragontail
Seconded. All of the above. And heartily so.

It's funny... there's a five-year age gap between my wife and myself, and she started reading comics as an adult while I've been reading them since the age of three. Once she got into the hobby, I handed her both DKR and Watchmen to read and she was... completely, utterly unimpressed. I was aghast and, while things didn't get heated, we had one heck of a conversation about taste and literary appreciation (thankfully, we laugh about it now).

But what came out of all that for me... buoyed when our daughter, now 12, subsequently became a comics fan... was how the writing techniques and flourishes so revelatory to my generation seem so normal to those who follow. DKR isn't as impressive to some newer readers (not all, but some) because its tricks are now commonly used in TV shows, movies and, yes, comics - because the authors of those stories read DKR on release, like we did. Same with much of Alan Moore's work. And it goes the other way - Buddy: The Vampire Slayer was a game-changer for my wife, but less so for me because I'd grown up reading Claremont and Roger Stern.

My Dad - an extreme latecomer to genre entertainment, having developed an appreciation at the tender age of 55 after years of dismissing it - compares it to the way some younger music fans dismiss the Beatles until they truly grasp how much they changed music. I think it's an apt observation.

Date: 2017-02-21 06:25 am (UTC)
bj_l: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bj_l
I think it's possibly the editing as a few trades came with the origunal treatments for at least the last issue. It was rather different, if I remember.

Date: 2017-02-20 07:31 am (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
I still think this is perfectly fine - brilliant, even - and I still like DKSA as a ridiculous extension of Frank supposedly trying to give the superhero genre it's balls back, but doing so by presenting the Silver Age as Adam West on steroids; I just.. Obviously, Frank succeeded. He absolutely changed the face of comics forever, along with Moore/Gibbons and Watchmen.

I just.. I kind of wish most the following writers who piggybacked this stuff and sellotaped this characterisation of Batman onto the 'main/real' Batman actually did so with the same level of quality and nuance. Even Frank himself devolved into parody of this after a point, seemingly unable to grasp Bruce Wayne as the genuinely damaged individual he's presented as here, who needs Batman, and instead giving us 'the goddamn Batman'. And that way lies a slippery slope. I have this to thank for Snyder's run and my favourite characterisation of Batman and the Joker in years, but we also have this to thank for every 'MY PARENTS ARE DEAAAAAAAAD' meme.

Date: 2017-02-21 06:27 am (UTC)
bj_l: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bj_l
High five for liking DKSA!

Date: 2017-02-21 06:43 am (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
Thanks! I mean, I'm fully aware it's not as groundbreaking as DKR, and the colouring in particular is very early 2000's, but.. I like the ridiculousness of it all; one of my favourite things from when I first actively got into comics is the page of Batman supping tea while Barry reads next to him, and declaring Lex Luthor's about to die. And then Lex gets hit in the face with a mace. This is after a giant Hal Jordan saves the planet by holding it in his hands. And he blows the world a kiss afterward.

Like, am I meant to take it seriously? I don't think so. Does it butcher certain characters? Sure, but it's out of main continuity, so does it really matter much? Is it fun? Hell yes. I think people are hard on it because it's not DKR, which is fair, but it's so preposterous I can't help but like it.

Date: 2017-02-22 12:38 am (UTC)
bj_l: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bj_l
It's absolutely batshit, but I don't Miller ever set out to do The Dark Knight Returns Redux. He had different things to say, and I'd argue he succeeded. And even if he didn't, it's a ride.

Honestly, I'm tired of this "everything needs to be Watchmen (if you're Moore), DKNR (if your Miller) or comparable to them if you're anyone else" bulldust.

Date: 2017-02-20 08:27 am (UTC)
captainbellman: It Was A Boojum... (Default)
From: [personal profile] captainbellman
"WHAT IF...the DC Universe was run by Republicans?"

Date: 2017-02-20 12:07 pm (UTC)
nate_abril96: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nate_abril96
So basically what we're living in now; minus the superheroes.

Date: 2017-02-20 06:52 pm (UTC)
crabby_lioness: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crabby_lioness
Calling it the greatest Batman story ever, which it deserves, really points out the limitations of the Batman story.

Date: 2017-02-20 08:05 pm (UTC)
lamashtar: Shun the nonbelievers! Shun-na! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamashtar
A backhanded criticism, indeed.

Date: 2017-02-21 08:05 pm (UTC)
crabby_lioness: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crabby_lioness
Once you tally up all the money he's spent on fancy toys and realize for far less than that he could end poverty in Gotham and give every kid who graduated from high school there a tuition-paid college education (which some modern billionaires have done for certain neighborhoods) it's not easy to respect him.

Date: 2017-02-21 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jeremyp
I agree.

Batman Year One illustrates all of the weaknesses with Batman's origins, while this story illustrates the issues with his inevitable ending.They bookend all of Batman's issues.

He starts as a naive, disturbed, broken child, dealing with the death of his parents in the most horrible way possible, and ends as a bitter, violent narcissistic goon.
From: [personal profile] chortles81
An Elseworlds where instead of founding (or in addition to) Wayne Industries he founded a mercenary company and the Batfamily are his 'high profile' guns-for-hire? Oddly enough this arose from thinking about Arrow (the show) and extrapolating that to "Bruce Wayne, corporate warlord"...
From: [personal profile] jeremyp

That's a great idea - having a mercenary squad would actually be more practical than the whole "lone vigilante" thing.

From: [personal profile] chortles81
Plus it gives some angles for dangling in 'anti-villain' (technically dual purpose) moments for this Wayne Industries*. Want some credibility in Earth-38 alien communities that could use the sight of someone who could be an alien -- because police departments still lag in hiring aliens if ever -- fighting back? "Leak" supposedly-found footage of Cassandra "Orphan" Cain tearing up a Cadmus safe house... or set down Jason Todd at Earth-38 Richard Spencer's next interview with brass knuckles, a camera, and a red hoodie, and task Tim Drake with firing up the meme machine...

* "We're not calling ourselves the Justice League of Assassins, and I actually considered Justice League of China before my idiot cousin outed himself with the name to impress some girl."

Date: 2017-02-21 06:36 am (UTC)
bj_l: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bj_l
I'm not even sure I think it's the greatest story in general anymore, but it is absolutely up there. Greatest Batman miniseries or elseworld, though? Quite possibly.

But to be honest, my favourite Batman writer might just be Tomasi for the moment.
Edited Date: 2017-02-21 06:36 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-02-20 09:50 pm (UTC)
starwolf_oakley: (Default)
From: [personal profile] starwolf_oakley
Is "Dark Knight Returns" where "Batman hates the rest of the Justice League for reasons" started? It is clearer in Part 4 with Superman, but is that where it began?

Date: 2017-02-21 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lego_joker
Actually, I think it started slightly earlier, with Mike W. Barr's Outsiders. The whole reason the Outsiders were founded was because Bruce was frustrated with the JLA knuckling under to international politics and whatnot.

Date: 2017-02-21 06:38 am (UTC)
bj_l: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bj_l
Does anyone else struggle with the Mutants slang?

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