Robot 6

Comics college: Frank Miller

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

Strap yourself in for a long read, because this month we’re looking at the rather lengthy and considerable career of one of the most influential comics creators of the past 40 years, Mr. Frank Miller.

Why he’s important

Back in the 80s, there where three books every media pundit trumpeted as the high-water example that comics weren’t just for kids anymore: Maus, Watchmen and Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. While that pairing may seem odd and slightly reductive today (and it did for many then), there’s no question that Miller’s work helped many creators and fans, both in the superhero mainstream and outside it, think beyond the perceived limitations of the medium and helped drag comics kicking and screaming into the modern day.

Aesthetically, he’s one of the most exciting and dynamic creators working in the field today. While even his best work has its share of flaws and his worldview can be … overly simplistic at times, he is never boring.

Where to start

It may seem like a cliche, but his best known and arguably most beloved work – The Dark Knight Returns — is the best place for new readers to be introduced to Miller’s work. All of Miller’s tropes are laid out right there on the page. The superhero fused with noir ethos; the clipped, terse dialogue; the tiny panels that bleed into a huge splash page, the sketchy, delightfully rumpled line (nobody draws trenchcoats like Miller); the TV screens that doubled as panels. If Daredevil made Miller a star and Ronin showed what he was capable of, Dark Knight showed how he could apply his style to the superhero genre, and has served as a framework of sorts for his work since then (not to mention ushering in a host of lesser copycats, but let’s not blame him for that).

From there you should read

Ronin

Some people will tell you that Dark Knight Returns is Miller’s finest work. Those people would be wrong. Miller’s best work by far —  no question about it — is Ronin, sci-fi post-apocalyptic saga that combines all of the artist’s influences at the time — Lone Wolf and Cub, Heavy Metal, Will Eisner — and whips it up into a tense, delirious froth.This was Miller’s chance to show everyone what he was truly capable of, what he could do if the restraints were taken off, and he went full throttle. While he’s certainly produced good — even great — work since then, he’s never equaled what he achieved with Ronin.

Of course, Miller is known just as much for his collaborations as he is his solo work. Easily his most fruitful collaboration proved to be with David Mazzuchelli, who worked with him on the excellent  Batman: Year One and Daredevil: Born Again. The former retells Batman’s origin by way of Dashiell Hammett, while the latter throws DD through an emotional wringer, pulling apart and examining the tenets of heroism and villainy. Both exhibit some of Miller’s best writing to date and more than earn the high reputation they have among fans, both in and outside the traditional superhero club walls.

Further reading

Elektra Lives Again

One book not many Frank Miller fans seem to talk about a lot is Elektra Lives Again, which kind of seems like a shame since it’s a great read, an intense fever-dream of a book featuring some truly stellar fight sequences. True it doesn’t make much sense, but what it lacks in that department it more than makes up for in style and nerve. Really, it’s about due for a critical re-evaluation any time now.

Moving on, we come to the Sin City line, Miller big, blood-soaked valentine to the noir and hardboiled crime genres. These books don’t really fit in the noir mold per se, they lack the sense of tragedy and helplessness that noir requires; they’re more like noir hopped up on steroids. Still, at their best they have a propulsive energy and vision that is rarely matched in comics. And it is delightful to see Miller see how far he can take his black-and-white ethos on the page.

The books vary widely in quality, but even so, it’s best to read them in order as the stories tend to bleed into each other to some degree. So, in chronological order you have: The Hard Goodbye (great), A Dame to Kill For (awful, one of his worst books ever), The Big Fat Kill, (great) That Yellow Bastard (good), Family Values (meh), Booze, Broads and Bullets (whatever) and Hell and Back (flawed but deliriously nutty, and points the way towards later work like Dark Knight Strikes Again).

In between Family Values and Hell and Back, Miller put out 300, a gung-ho, chest-thumping saga about the Battle of Thermopylae. It’s more concerned with macho bravado than historical accuracy, but it is one of the most visually striking books he’s ever done, a large part of which is thanks to the work of his ex-wife, colorist Lynn Varley (who, frankly, doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her work as Miller’s collaborator).

After Varley and Mazzuchelli, Miller’s other best collaborator would have to be Bill Sienkiewicz, who helped put together the trippy Love and War and Elektra: Assassin, both of which are collected in the now out-of-print Daredevil/Elektra Love and War hardcover. Love and War is a conventional Daredevil story told from the perspective of one of Miller’s off-kilter madmen (what is it with Miller and eggs anyway?), while Elektra: Assassin, is just plain, off the wall loopy. It’s wilder elements seem rather tame by today’s standards (it’s hard to believe people actually were up in arms over this book) but it still holds up as a great read.

Even further reading

Hard Boiled

Many readers and critics didn’t know what to make of The Dark Knight Strikes Again when it first came out and it can definitely be an off-putting book for those expecting something more straightforward and serious, like the first Dark Knight book or 300. But taken on its own terms it’s great fun, a rough, raw, big-footed attempt to make superheroes goofy and fun and snappy again. Don’t try to make too much sense out of it, just let it wash over you.

Miller got made his name back in the 1970s on Daredevil, and that extended run is collected in Daredevil Visionaries Vol. 1-3. Frankly, of all of Miller’s work I think this holds up the least. You can sense him chafing at the bit, frustrated by the conventions of the era, especially towards the end of his run. (Why doesn’t DD just go ahead and kill the bad guy? Why can’t we raise the sex and violence quotient? Do I have to reintroduce DD’s secret origin and powers in every issue?) But if you want to see where Miller got his start, this is where you go.

Miller returned to Daredevil yet again with John Romita Jr. for Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, an attempt to do for Matt Murdock what Batman: Year One did for Bruce Wayne. It’s nowhere near as good as that book, but it’s still a pretty tight, grim read, and well worth checking out for Romita’s visuals as much as Miller’s prose.

In 1990, Miller introduced the world to artist Geof Darrow with the release of Hard Boiled, another over the top action set piece that starts with a wonderfully surreal bang but quickly deteriorates into a standard “man against oppressive forces” plot, though it still retains some comic punch by the end. Miller and Darrow followed that up with The Big Guy and Rusty the Robot, a parody of classic Japanese monster movies and old-school superhero comics that feels strangely reined in by both parties. Both books are worth reading if for no other reason than to feast upon Darrow’s hyper-articulate, to-hell-with-negative-space art, but neither book qualifies as essential.

Ancillary material

Robocop Versus Terminator #1

Miller is many things, but subtle isn’t one of them, which makes him a very poor satirist. This is best evident in the series of books he did with Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons — Give Me Liberty, Martha Washington Goes to War, Martha Washington Saves the World and Martha Washington Dies, all of which are collected (and then some) in  The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century. While Gibbons art is stellar, the story itself is limp. Miller goes for big, obvious targets and his arguements (liberals mean well but are ineffectual; republicans are corrupt, evil bastards; you have to fight and risk all for what you believe in) seem tiresome and rote here.

Going back in time, The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man collects a number of unrelated Spidey stories Miller drew but didn’t write for Marvel back in his early days at the company. Those who like Miller’s art work, particularly his early style, will enjoy this, but there’s nothing exemplary here.

Miller parodied his own macho blustering in Tales to Offend, which, while more than a trifle obvious, is the one exception to the “bad satirist” rule.

Way back in 1992, Miller teamed up with Walt Simonson for the four-issue  Robocop vs. Terminator, a fitfully amusing spin-off that never achieves true lift-off, but has some neat moments, especially in playing with the “the past has changed the future! now we must go back into the past again” time-travel hokum.

Speaking of Robocop, Miller ia no stranger to Hollywood, having written the screenplays to Robocop 2 and Robocop 3, both of which apparently were heavily futzed with (Avatar Press adapted the original scripts into comics if you’re curious). Successful adaptations have also been made of Sin City (which he co-directed) and 300 (though Sin City is by far the better adaption). Those successes led Miller to try to direct a movie on his lonesome, a crazy-quilt version of Will Eisner’ The Spirit, which, while visually striking and — again — far from boring, is a truly awful film.

There aren’t a lot of critical writings available on Miller, at least not in print, but interested parties are encouraged to check out The Comics Journal Library: Frank Miller, which contains a number of interviews Miller did for the Journal at various points at his career.

Avoid

Let’s see, I already mentioned A Dame to Kill For, right? That would leave Spawn/Batman, a ugly, cynical team-up with Todd McFarlane that flatters neither contributor.

Then there’s All-Star Batman and Robin. Fans of this series tend to regard it as a parody, but I don’t think it is. It’s self-aware and a bit tongue-in-cheek to be sure, but it revels in its trashiness a bit too much to be a simple parody. This is Miller attempting to “have fun” with Batman, which in this case means being as over the top as possible, which in turn results in a garish, obnoxious mess. Part of my problem with this work may be that I just don’t care for Jim Lee’s art very much. Certainly if you enjoy late-period Miller work like Dark Knight Strikes Again there’s a good chance you’ll like this as well, but this definitely isn’t the place for newcomers to start.

Next month: Joe Sacco

News From Our Partners

Comments

44 Comments

Well I think Miller’s writing and politics are a lot more subtle and versitile. Recent examination of “Elecktra Assasin” by Matt Seneca and Sean Witzke examines various aspects of Miller’s writing that many people ignore.

http://deathtotheuniverse.blogspot.com/2011/03/free-agency.html

It is a fascinating read. Anybody who is interested in Miller should check it out.

I still feel that DKR exceeds RONIN in terms of Miller synthesizing all of his diverse influences. RONIN still feels like half Moebius, half something else.

Why is A Dame to Kill For so bad? I think The Hard Goodbye is definitely the best one, but I thought ADTKF was nearly as good, if a bit predictable and misogynistic. Okay never mind, I think I just talked myself through it.

I still haven’t read Ronin, but I loved Samurai Jack from the moment I laid eyes on the show (which I understand was largely inspired by Miller’s comic), so I probably need to get on that. Lone Wolf and Cub has always been one of my top 10 favorite comics.

Looking forward to the Joe Sacco piece! He’s definitely one of my favorite creators working today.

Great job – although I would put DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN in the same classification as ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN. Both share that same disregard for the main character and basically are nothing more than parodies of superhero comics. In many ways, these works are Miller making fun of himself.

Determining whether you want to sit through Miller’s personal joke is really the question at hand for these series. At least Jim Lee’s artwork is exceptional on BATMAN AND ROBIN. Miller’s artwork is a total assault on the reader in STRIKES AGAIN. It’s almost at fanzine quality with the poor rendering and awkward computer coloring.

I just can’t take Chris seriously if he says he doesn’t like Jim Lee’s artwork. His Batman, for instance, is nothing short of iconic. I often read fan raves about artists who’s work I find incerdibly ugly (Frank Quitely, for one), and then wonder why people rag on Lee.

As for Miller’s writing on ASB&R, I took the whole series as goofy fun (regardless of what Miller’s intentions were). It certainly didn’t offend me, nor did I take it too seriously,and if you take it as an Elseworlds book that’s a prequel to DKR it actually kind of fits. I think Miller’s probably lost his mind over the years (take The Spirit for instance), but ASB&R was entertaining in its own way. I’m sorry he couldn’t bothered to at least conclude the series properly.

I never read Ronin, but perhaps I’ll check it out. I can’t imagine that it tops DKR, Year One, or Born Again though. But I’ll check it out.

I agree about DK Strikes Again though… What little I read was the pits.I’m also glad his “Holy Terror Batman” book didn’t happen. I have a feeling that would’ve been awful too.

Hyung — You’re right that Miller is more versatile a writer than he’s given credit for. That’s certainly the case with Assassin and a few other books, like Born Again. But on the other hand, there are books like 300 and some of the Sin City titles, which I think operate on a very “what you see is what you get” level.

Gene — That may be what I like about Ronin so much; you can see Miller incorporating Moebius and other influences and making them his own.

Miller and Jay — I’m not sure if I can articulate here why I prefer DKSB over ASBR. I really like Miller’s sloppy, big-foot approach to his art here. It’s got a “what the hell” attitude that I appreciate. But ASBR seems to take those qualities and push them to a point where the joke gets tired, at least for me. I don’t have any patience with it. I’ve never been a fan of any of the Image-era artists though, including Lee, even though he’s clearly the best draftsman of the bunch.

The Miller-drawn alternate covers for All-Star Batman and Robin and the drawings running over the credits for the Spirit are a brief glimpse into how much better those efforts, though they would still not be well-written, would work with his distorted, simplified cartoonish style. He and his editors, producers, etc. took exactly the wrong lesson from Dark Knight 2. He should stick to drawing his own work. Jim Lee tries very hard but is just not in the spirit.

Chris Mautner:

I have to disagree on Miller being a terrible satarist.

Miller is not a subtle writer. He never wanted to be. (as he repeatedly said in interviews) However, I think that his “exaggerated and overblown in your-face” approach is what makes him such an effective satrist. Satire requires an element of caricature and humor.

“Dr. Strangelove,” one of the most effective satire, is very obvious in both its targets and message. Its exaggerated sense of humor is what makes it brilliant.

Frank Miller’s best satires have that sense of humor and exaggerated caricature. I personally think that “Elecktra: Assasin” “Hard Boiled” “Dark Knight Returns” are the best satires on mainstream comics. Also one of the interesting aspects of Miller’s political satires is that he approaches a particular issue from multiple perspectives. While he never really goes in depth, compared to most of the one note main stream satires, it is a unique quality. (I hated Transmetropolitan for its over simplified views and preachiness.)

If Miller ever wanted to do a comics that was a serious analysis of politics or society, he would have failed. His lack of subtelety would have really dragged him down. But he never did.

I think this is where DKR succeeds while Watchmen fails. (I know its a blasphemy to say this…)

“Watchmen”‘s political satire or analysis, even with its seriousness and subtlelety, does not really have the depth that it strives for. Its treatment of Cold War and nuclear arms race is does not much more depth than DKR’s treatment of those issues. However, Watchmen really really tries hard to be a serious political commentary while DKR is fully aware of its depth and makes fun of everything.

I have a very different take on Sin City, DKSA, ASBR… but I respect your take as well.

Thanks for the article

I agree on the point that Elektra Lives Again is underrated or not discussed much. I can’t stand what Marvel has done with Elektra on their own. Elektra by Miller is the only Elektra worth reading.

Now onto a question: Why on earth doesn’t this article mention the Wolverine miniseries by Claremont and Miller?

Ronin is by far the best Miller book. Ronin is the reason I wanted to draw comics. If I can ever create a book like Ronin, I will die a very satisfied creator.

Great article, interesting comments!
looking fwd to sacco!

I can understand the exclusion of the WOLVERINE series, as it was really just more of the same “note” that Miller played during his first run on DAREDEVIL. It doesn’t really add much to the Miller collection of work, just to the Wolverine character itself.

Regarding your preference for the STRIKES AGAIN artwork over Jim Lee’s work on ALL STAR – I was curious as to your reaction to STRIKES AGAIN when you first read it. I know that I was just incredibly let down, much like reading HANNIBAL after SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. It was as if the creator was now mocking the very work that made them famous.

I guess that I just don’t “get” the purpose for doing such a thing, outside of expressing anger towards the fan base that developed your fame.

Great article and great recommendations for newcomers, as well as folks that have read some and should read more (me).

I’m a huge Miller fan, but I would however agree with what some folks have said here, DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN was a kick in the pants of DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. It would be rare for anyone not to acknowledge the brilliance and relevance of DKR, but also how part of its beauty was that it was meant to be Batman’s last great adventure and had a great closing. There was NO need for DKSA (much like the Hannibal example above, that I’ll quote since I was struggling to find a lousy sequel example – Gremlins 2?), and reading it ,it feels like Miller was saying “Here’s to all of you that would not shut up about a sequel, this is how bad and unnecessary a sequel would be”. However, ALL STAR was beyond a kick in the pants, ALL STAR is the public lynching of DKR, because while it would have been interesting to see what happened to the Batman of the DKR future, ALL STAR is absolutely unreadable!

As an aside, since apparently the upcoming THE WOLVERINE is supposed to be based on Frank Miller’s series, would it not be awesome to have him team up with say Robert Rodriguez for that sequel? Frank Miller should by no means be allowed to direct by himself (I would like my money back for the painful experience of watching THE SPIRIT). But teamed up with a great director, particularly one with whom the results have proven to be stunning (SIN CITY), this could be a great opportunity for Fox.

Whether anyone cares for Lee’s art or not is irrelevant when discussing the overall payoff of the story by the writer. Even if the overly artsy “I-like-guys-like-Frank-Quietly-because-that’s-the-cool-thing-to-do” kinda fan, you must admit that Lee can deliver a story through his art. So The fault of ASB&R sucking falls squarely on the shoulders of Miller himself.

RONIN is one of the Best comics ever produced. Can’t wait for the movie!

The fact that you hated A Dame To Kill For, but liked The Dark Knight Strikes Again has me scratching my head. DK2 was just as bad as, if not worse than, All Star Batman and Robin (but at least All Star Batman and Robin has incredible art by Jim Lee). And without any explanation by you, I can’t understand what makes A Dame To Kill For so awful to you compared to the other Sin City books (?).

I agree that Elektra Lives Again is overlooked. It has some of Miller’s best artwork, though I detect some help from Geoff Darrow.
Also, I think Elektra:Assassin is one of the finest comics published, truly revolutionary
.
I’ll have to disagree with the notion that the original SIn City didn’t contain tragedy or hopelessness. As the story grew the odds against Marv grew as as well, and the hope for a happy ending vanished, There’s a panel toward the end of the book where Wendy is visiting Marv in jail. For the only time in the book Marv looks at peace, there’s even a glint in his eye. That, to me, is tragic.

I’d count A Dame To Kill For out of “Worst Ever” contendership just for having one of my favorite panel sequences of all time(the main character being shot out of the window and Marv dashing up to rescue him).

Elektra Lives Again is my favorite work of Frank Miller. I think to thoroughly enjoy it you have to have some knowledge of Miller’ first run on Daredevil. It’s an incredible piece of work nevertheless.

I just recently got the trade of Batman: Year One…I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read this. Miller of course is on a roll here, but it’s the first time I’ve seen David Mazzuchelli’s work.

I don’t think anyone can say definitive what Franks best individual work is but I agree with the blogger that Ronin has to be considered there.

To all the DK2 and ASBARBW detractors, don’t confuse your traditionalists taste as Miller’s failure.

What about BAD BOY? One of my favorite stories Frank wrote, IMO, and the art by Simon Bisley (sp?) kicks butt. Other than that, thank you so much for writing this great piece!

In an age when more people work with digital technology, the traditional techniques of mixing inks (for example) or spending years to master the challenge of using a brush, are being lost. When you look at Miller’s originals, the experience is hard to describe but suffice it to say, what you see in the comic books or in reprinted posters or whatever?…not even close to the awesomeness of the actual piece. But you all probably know that as a given. Just thought I’d mention though.

Thanks again! xx

Chris Mautner, you are a moron if you truly believe A Dame to Kill For is ‘awful’.
What the hell are you smoking???

I’m smoking the same weed:
In fact I’d say everything SIN CITY is awful.

And I might have to read Miller’s Batman again (its been years) but I do believe Morrison’s mega run got that beat.

In my opinion DKR > Ronin (Sorry Jason. Don’t kill me).
I’m a pretty huge Batman fanboy though, so I can’t say it’s an objective opinion.
Anyway, great read, Chris!

Sleep on Martha Washington all you want. Its his best Satirical work.

Totally disagree about the exclusion of the Wolverine miniseries, Jay W. Not mentioning it in this article that covers just about all of Miller’s work is an oversight. Miller wrote Daredevil in the first person for two issues (Bullseye’s narrative in DD 181 and DD’s own narrative in DD 191), and seeing Claremont adopt the first person approach for four issues on Wolverine, a character that Miller didn’t even really want to draw at first, is worth noting. Additionally, Claremont has repeatedly mentioned Miller’s storytelling ability that made the Wolverine series sing for him and readers.

The series was pretty well received at the time. In fact, they’re basing a movie on it. It’s certainly worth mentioning moreso than The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man that’s under the “Ancillary material” section.

Well, wolverine was probably excluded because Claremont is listed as the writer and the though of today would make that Claremont’s work not Miller’s. But we should remember artists are as much a part of the story as the writer, especially back in the days when collaboration was at it’s peak.

Ronin is definitely NOT the best thing Frank Miller ever wrote, and if you’re taking points away from ‘Daredevil’ for not aging well but not ‘Ronin’, you’re delusional.

“It’s certainly worth mentioning moreso than The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man that’s under the “Ancillary material” section.”

Except that he didn’t do any writing on ‘Wolverine’, and “The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man” is the only place to get the reprint of the one Spider-Man story he did write (even though the author of this piece either did not know or did not cite that fact). You’re comparing that to something that, in your own words, Miller didn’t even want to be involved in.

Sean- The wolverine series was done based off of a story Frank and Chris worked out during a road trip. It was by no means all Claremont which is why it doesn’t read like a typical Claremont yarn. Claremont wrote much of the story after the fact as is typical of marvel style collaborations of the past. That’s why the comics were so good. The artist was inspired and as much of the storyteller as the writer was.

Ronin is excellent and one of Miller’s best so let’s not get ridiculous with the indignation here. There is no one definitive best Miller work to date.

Sean, seriously, you gotta be kidding me. Despite the fact that Miller is given writing credits for one story out of a bunch of stories he had drawn in “The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man,” the Wolverine miniseries blows that collected edition out of the water and should definitely be mentioned.

And despite what Miller thought before he became involved in the Wolverine series, he definitely got into the project big-time. He told Claremont he didn’t want to work on a story about a psychopath, Claremont took note, and they both fully collaborated on producing the best Wolverine story they could make.

While Frank Miller has certainly done some stinkers, he is still my favourite comic writer. It was his work on Batman (DKR and Y1) that got me into comics. I have to disagree that Ronin surpasses DKR, but then again, I think All Star Batman is a fantastic book so what would I know.

DK2 was an hilariously awesome Kauffman on the character.

And really, Miller didn’t even need to have a credit on Hard Boiled. That was Darrow’s show all the way.

You forgot Batman:Year One. He may not have drawn it but his writing was fantastic.

i personally think DKR is a peice of shit. by far his best work is in my opinion batman year one………

Frank Miller is the Michael Jordan Of Comics. Simple as that.

FM: Six Sin City (full) books. MJ: Six NBA Titles.
Spectacular performance in the spring of 1986: FM: The Dark Knight Returns. MJ: 63 points in the playoffs.
Took time off at the height of their careers: FM: To become a movie screenwriter for Robocop 2 and 3. MJ: To play minor-league baseball.
Made controversial return to DC: FM: DC Comics (DK2/All-Star Batman). MJ: Washington (DC) Wizards.
Prominent business engagement with a company in Oregon: FM: Dark Horse Comics. MJ: Nike
Translated global recognition into successful film: FM: Sin City/300. MJ: Space Jam/Michael Jordan To The MAX.

Both have had a similar impact on the larger pop-culture than anyone else in their field, from Air Jordan shoes to the revival of the Batman franchise and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And are two of the most intensely driven practitioners of anything I’ve ever seen, and models for achieving overwhelming success that anyone ought to try to emulate.

Lynn Varley is Scottie Pippen :)

It just shows how much of an influence Miller is that I disagree with Chris’ opinions on pretty much every point and still understand why he came to these opinions. I love DK2 for it’s absurd pop superheroics and the due it owes to both Grant Morrison and the 60′s Batman tv series. I can’t really understand the vehemence with readers for All-Star as we read this younger Miller Batman years earlier in Spawn/Batman. The over-the-top attitude here appeals to the 14 year old reader I was many years ago. Ronin feels like a mess of influences that Miller doesn’t put his own stamp on conclusively enough.

It’s great that we have authors like Miller that can cause such a debate between readers. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

I was nodding along with this article right up unti lit slammed All Star Batman. I found this book inspired and completely consistent with Miller’s past dealings with these characters and superheroics in general. All the moreso when I look at the large amount of crap that has been published with the word Batman on it over the last 5 years, most especially the stuff Morrison’s name on it. All Star Batman may well be my favourite Batman title over the past 10 years.

David Tobin Writes: I love DK2 for it’s absurd pop superheroics and the due it owes to both Grant Morrison and the 60′s Batman tv series.

Do you really think he’s influenced by Grant Morrison’s work?

“No question about it”? Really?

I think Miller’s best work is probably Daredevil: Born Again, with Elektra Lives Again hard on its heels, but “no question about it”, when he’s written so many great things? That’s ridiculous. Particularly when so many people would disagree with you. And do.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again is a story completely hijacked by the real life events of 9/11. It’s absolutely fascinating and you can watch Frank Miller go crazy over the course of it.

I find myself rereading it far more often than The Dark Knight Returns. It’s not as successful a work, but it’s a much more ambitious and interesting work.

“…..Part of my problem with this work may be that I just don’t care for Jim Lee’s art very much”

Really? I mean you can hate on the All-Star story, I get it’s not for everyone. But Jim Lee’s art is amazing. If you don’t even like his style you have to appreciate it. Frank Millers’ art has been sub-par at times, but sometimes the story just makes you look past the art. Jim Lee is top notch.

I always felt that the first DK was Miller’s attempt to bring Batman to what he felt was the logical conclusion for that character. After reading the second DK, I felt is was Miller trying to do the same for Superman. If you ignore the title of the book and read it as a Superman book that has Batman in it, it works very well. The book works best if you ignore the last page and end with the scene of Superman and his daughter hovering over the Earth. The problem is that it was written, marketed, and sold as a Batman book. Miller basically pulled a bait and switch on the reader. While most readers probably didn’t notice the bait and switch consciously, they were well aware that they weren’t getting what they paid for. Then again, I could be looking far to much into things. I have no explanation for ASB+R.

Chris,
The other major influence on RONIN I meant to cite was Kojima of LONE WOLF AND CUB, whom Miller had lavishly praised back in those days. I just couldn’t think of the guy’s name at the time.

Kudos for your recommendation of ELEKTRA, it does deserve more love.

I can’t get on board with those who claim that TDKR is a “satire.” IMO it’s not moralistic enough to be a true satire, as (say) WATCHMEN is. I’d prefer to think of it as principally a hard-edged adventure that happens to utilize a lot of satirical elements.

Ditto on HARD GOODBYE as the best SIN CITY.

Leave a Comment

 



Browse the Robot 6 Archives