Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review - The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller

I signed up for a Coursera course in Comic Books and Graphic Novels, and I have been working my way through the recommended reading list. This was in the top 3 books. Apparently it's a big deal?

OK. I liked it. I did. I can see how it's probably visionary and a masterpiece and stuff... but... I did not love it.

I'm not really into superhero comics, so that sort of put me at a disadvantage for appreciating this. It's not a typical superhero comic, so that helps. This was also my first Batman comic, so I didn't go into it knowing the history and relevance of this piece. I felt like I must have missed something upon finishing, so I poked around online to read others' reviews and learn more about the Batman arc. That's helped guide my hindsight.

The bad:

There were too many panels per page for my taste. I didn't love the art - I get that it's supposed to be dark, but I'm saying some drawings were literally so dark that my eyes couldn't decipher shapes or actions.
jk, this isn't a real panel, but you get the idea.

A minor thing in the grand scheme, but one of the first groups of villains the book introduces -- the "Mutant Gang" -- was just... too much. I really can't decide if they are an 80s fluorescent vinyl nightmare or if I should just love and embrace the camp. Come to think of it, the same clownish look goes for all the villains, really... but I couldn't take them seriously.

The good:

Carrie Kelley as Robin is awesome. Because I'm not familiar with the Batman stories in comic form, I've only seen baby-faced young men like Chris O'Donnell and Joseph Gordon Levitt in the role of Robin. Where my ladies at, Bruce Wayne? It was cool to see a 13-year-old girl leave her neglectful family and take on this role. Since finishing the book, she is seriously everywhere -- on a hipster's shirt at the hipster coffee shop, the object of several San Diego Comic Con cosplays... I am way behind the curve.

Dat hair.

did like the overall premise. Existential crises. Fate of humanity in the balance. Even super heroes grow old. To that effect, though, I found myself drawing comparisons to Watchmen, which I read first... and liked more.

I think it's like this: Pulp Fiction was this really groundbreaking, influential film, right? If you don't see Pulp Fiction until, say 20 years after it was released, but you've been watching other movies which were influenced by Pulp Fiction, when you finally see Pulp Fiction, it's like... "so?" Maybe that's not the normal reaction, but that was my reaction when I finally saw Pulp Fiction. My reaction was indifference and "you know, this kind of reminds me of Kill Bill..." OF COURSE IT DOES.

I give it a "meh," but it is a "meh" of great respect.

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