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As fans mock Frank Miller’s ‘Dark Knight III’ cover, Kurt Busiek defends it


The debut of Frank Miller’s cover for the minicomic accompanying Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 was greeted Monday with a mixture of confusion and criticism, as many fans tried to figure out what happened to the legendary artist. “DC Lets Frank Miller Draw Superman’s Penis For Dark Knight III,” reads the headline on

But as the jokes flew on social media, Astro City writer Kurt Busiek stepped up with an alternate view: that Miller, revered for his work on Daredevil, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, knows precisely what he’s doing.

Posting the cover for DC Comics’ Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom #1 — yes, the one of the grimacing Man of Steel with pumpkin-sized fists and a penis clearly outlined in his shorts — Busiek wrote on Twitter, “This shot of Superman says everything Frank Miller wants to establish about Superman in this world.”

The writer followed that with a series of tweets that, together, forms a pretty convincing explanation of, and argument for, Miller’s approach. Of course, that may not change your mind if you already hate this new take on Superman (and, judging from all of those Twitter and Facebook comments, odds are that you do):


Written by Miller and Brian Azzarello, and illustrated by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson, Dark Knight III: The Master Race debuts Nov. 25. Each issue will include a minicomic that focuses on a different character in the world of the Dark Knight, drawn by various artists. Miller himself will pencil Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom #1.



Kurt, you’re my hero!

I gotta disagree. There’s drawing something raw, gritty, powerful, and crude. Ironically, see: Sin City. And then there’s drawing something poorly. That’s what this Superman is, poorly drawn. Something like that needs to be indicative of this comic’s proportions. Is he gonna draw him like that the whole time? Fine, but that’s not how humanoid body parts work.

And you could argue its a stylistic choice. I won’t refute that. I just think its a bad stylistic choice.

I have the upmost respect for Kurt Busiek as a creator,,,,But I just don’t agree with him here. This is just a very poorly drawn image and while most people like sleek and more defined features, I don’t see how you can look at this picture and see anything other than poor artistry.

I also disagree. The fists & dick aren’t he problem. I honestly didn’t even notice the dick until it was pointed out here. But it looks like a young fan looked at how Superman was drawn in the previous DK installments and tried to copy it. It’s nice to see Kurt defending a colleague and it’s OK to to get old and lose some amount of dexterity.

Kurt, people you don’t want crappy art won’t like it.

Certainly not how I want to see Superman.

But I agree with Kurt that this was likely intentionally drawn to invoke a certain emotional reaction or present a certain interpretation.

I think you can argue that it doesn’t match your personal aesthetic ideal or that it is not anatomically accurate, but if those weren’t the things he was going for, you can’t fault him for not hitting them.

That’s not how art works.

You can fault him for not trying to hit them, but that’s a different argument.

I love Kurt Busiek, but I wholeheartedly disagree. It’s not like we haven’t seen Frank Miller draw this kind of Superman before. We have! We know exactly what kind of vibe he’s going for because we read Dark Knight Returns and DKII. His neck is has wide as his waist. He’s got a Voldemort nose. His fists are bigger than his head. One of his legs is twice as thick as the other. It’s just bad. This looks like Rob Liefeld had a stroke while trying to recreate a Frank Miller image.

About what I was expecting from Miller. No desire to read anything he does.

And the fans are all up in arms over the outline of Superman’s manhood? Really? We don’t say much about the way many female characters are drawn. You can’t have a double standard of boobs good, bulge bad. I’m reminded of Michael Turner’s rendition of Superman and Batman when he did the Supergirl story. He had no problem giving both of them porn star sized packages. I recall there were comments on that at the time as well. So it’s not so much that people don’t like the art style as it is having their male heroes portrayed ‘heroically’. The Spider-Woman cover art that drew criticism was a rarity. Quite frankly every artist has to address this ‘area’ when laying out the panels of the story. To pretend we don’t see it is asinine. To get bent out of shape over an artists rendition, to slam that artist with comments like the one’s that have been leveled is just indicative of our culture now. If they don’t like it, then don’t buy it. Better yet, let them draw their own and place it out there for public criticism. And for that matter, I think it’s a fantastic piece of art, cock and all.

Completely phoned-in rubbish.

I love it. But then again, I loved Marshal Law all of the way through. I love nasty, gritty, spit-in-your-face artwork. Always have. This is no different. Everyone is entitled to love it or shit on it. I love it.

This makes Rob Liefeld look good…

I like it. it grows on you.

at first I thought “frank is screwing with people and just scribbling away & mocking comic books as well as fans…”

after the wft moment, then I studied it and realized the image has this great energy within/about it. yet its very primitive looking.

its a primitively iconic-styled superman. the ultimate 1930/40s circus strong man or wrestler ala Maurice Tillet the “French Angle”.

Ok… There is a huge elephant in the room that no one is addressing. Most of us have seen recent photos of Miller. If you haven’t, then google Frank Miller health or sick or something. He is not a well man.

I have yet to see what exactly is wrong with him and, frankly, it’s really none of my business.

I respect Mr. Busiek, but I think he’s making excuses in this case. I believe that Miller isn’t physically able to draw better than this.

I sincerely hope Miller gets better. He looks like he has had a rough couple of years.

If it’s intentionally draw poorly (we need Miller to confirm this) then ok, but if it’s whereMiller is at currently talent wise, uh-oh….

Maybe it’s intentional, but there is such a thing as a failure to connect with your audience, or at least a big portion of it.

There are tendencies in Miller’s writing and art that have become more pronounced with each passing year. The socio-political content, the satirical aspects, the “raw’ quality of it all, these things have always been present in Miller, but they kept growing and growing.

Miller just became too “extreme” for a lot of comic book fans. Is that a fault of Miller’s, the fandom’s fault, or neither? I don’t know.

I think the other problem, in addition to all the “fan” negativity, is that so many creators think that Frank Miller needs defending.

Seriously… how can all of you be so obtuse.

FRANK MILLER HAS CANCER!!! I wish I could type that in 100 pt type so all you of you who post nonsense would not miss it. He is lucky to be alive, much less be able to draw.

Sure, it’s not a good drawing… but it’s the best he can do at this moment. He was in a freaking wheelchair at Comicon! Did nobody ever wonder why he never finished the sequel to 300? It’s because he was sick!

I’m not a fan of the guy, but show some respect and give the man a break. You’ll all be gushing over him when he has passed on.

Busiek’s analysis makes sense. This is the Superman Frank Miller wants to draw.

I suspect, however, that it will not be a Superman I want to read. (And Busiek covered that, too.)

Lorne Roote –

Really? If that is true, then I’m very sorry for him. I hope for the best and pray for a recovery. I really hope that the rumours of his sickness are exaggerated.

Miller is brilliant. He can draw anything and do it incredibly well. I’m sure he chose to do Superman this way and it’s a brave and bold image in what is a very conservative medium. It has ideas behind it, not just an anatomy book. Reminds me of Mike McMahon’s rendering of Judge Dredd, which was also brilliant.

We just want to see the Greatness of the first Dark Knight Comic Frank Miller drew.He is just exaggerating what he once drew I don’t like it but I will respect his current vision if Dark Knight Universe.

For all you people SO CONFIDENT Kurt is wrong, did any of you watch the video yesterday DC released yesterday teasing DKIII? Because around the 11 minute mark, Jim Lee specifically talks about this cover and what Frank Miller was going for in it, and YES THIS IS ON PURPOSE.

Watch around the 11 minute mark.

Seriously, you guys have no idea what your talking about, your opinion of it, like kurt said, is irrelevant to what Frank was trying to accomplish in the image. it’s not that he’s wrong, if that you don’t like it, so it can’t be intentional apparently.

I agree that it’s hideous, but I also think that Busiek is right, and this look is what Miller was going for.

I have to ask, though, looking at this picture, is his anatomy supposed to be pointing up and to our right, or down and to our left? Because I genuinely can’t tell. O.o

Loathed it yesterday.
Loathe it more today than did yesterday.

It’s just plain crude. As in ugly. Get the impression the artist doesn’t like Superman.

Poor idiots.- that illustration is awesome. In a world ridden of numb nuts fans of ben affleck as batman is no wonder they can’t tell an awesome artist like Miller.

I have no problem with how Superman is potrayed, but I just don’t know whats going on in this picture. Is that moving line from superman, atom ? What kind of movement does Superman make or what does his posement mean? I seriously don’t know.

“This shot of Superman says everything Frank Miller wants to establish about Superman in this world.”

That’s what I’m afraid of.

Haven’t been a fan of Miller in a good long while, but my love for Kurt Busiek is steady and unending.

I believe that this is really being hard on something experimental. As a pro human figure artist myself, I don;t see anything glaringly wrong with this figure. Its just a rough style. I think most people’s expectations here and the commentary is trying to enforce a rather bland aesthetic upon this work. The ‘Dark Knight Universe’ is dark and dystopian. Miller is obviously trying to push that envelope even further with Superman in this primitive context. I think its great. Plus, we don’t know the backstory behind this illustration. What has happened to Kal-El? This is a bunch of kneejerking fanboyishness right here.

Trust me, if Frank Miller wanted to draw a picture of the traditional looking Superman, he could do it and probably do it better than most. Miller’s trying to say something with his art at this point – it’s being used to convey an expression. I’m not a huge fan of the art either but I’m pretty sure he’s not going after the cookie-cutter Superman look.

Umm well this is pretty consistent with his artwork from Holy Terror, so kinda seems phoned in. If there was a message here it got lost with the shitty artwork. I think Frank Miller has been pounding down one too many Jack Daniels while working on this. He did a great job with Dark Knight Strikes Back superman and even the early Dark Knight Superman that could have still been conveyed here.

Hey evvvy body I crapped on a canvas………wooo eeeee……….. Its not about pretty art but what I am trying to say about it, in a deep meaningful statement and that it is crap…….. At least that is what I get from what is posted in this article

Leave it to Kurt Busiek to defend the scratchy, anatomically incorrect, “stylized” version of Frank Miller’s MASTER RACE Superman.

His simpatico defense for Miller’s take against all those Net criticizers seems similar to his defense of Neil Gaiman’s selective practice of charging his signing appearances. Miller, like Gaiman before him, is a creator closer to Busiek’s own age— and all those people snarkily typing their comments are OBVIOUSLY not of that generation… and are WRONG in their opinions. Kurt Busiek is standing up for the practises– and here, the “artistic choices”– of a fellow comicbook creator.

So, Busiek helps them to see the light. (Even taking their combative Netspeak, by gum!)

Imo, Busjek’s apology for today’s Frank Miller don’t shiv.

Im not suprised that he wanted to draw it that way. Its clear that Miller loathes Superman and idolizes Batman. And of course, I wont be reading it. It’s disrespecful to some characters. Just because you have a vision of a character, that doesnt mean the world must share it.

Miller fanboys have the author’s dick so far down their throats, they can even see this awfully drawn Superman. Or maybe they also hate Supes.

Saber Tooth Tiger Mike

October 7, 2015 at 9:48 am


He’s not stylizing his drawing for a specific effect. It would be fine if he was depicting something absurd or funny. But he’s not communicating anything so it is a poor drawing.

“that’s not how humanoid body parts work.” — They ALSO DON’T FLY AND SHOOT HEAT BEAMS OUT OF THEIR EYES… but that’s none of my business.

It’s pretty well known among comics professionals that Frank’s problem comes in bottles and has been getting progressively worse for a long, long time. Though I will admit to being surprised that Frank actually pulled it together enough to draw ANYTHING, I think Busiek’s defense of his deterioration might make him what they call an “enabler.”

A lot of fans are aspiring pros. I think any beef with this image probably springs from that. There is no way a newcomer would get away with work like this. Frank’s trading on his reputation, and I think that’s mainly what’s ticking people off. But if ANYone should be allowed to coast on the fumes of their reputation, it’s Frank freakin’ Miller. I think everything Busiek said is reasonable and true; not right or wrong. When it comes to art and opinions thereof, right and wrong are inapplicable distinctions.

Frank’s gone completely insane, and his work is simply reflective of that.

BTW, Is he still going around bizarrely claiming that “Iraq attacked the U.S.” before the Iraq war?

DKII felt like some kind of inside joke, where he tried to make it as awful as humanly possible, possibly out of spite at DC. Then, Holy Terror came out, and we realized that he wasn’t doing parody. He was producing this swill in full seriousness.

and, quite frankly, I’m sick of Miller constantly taking a dump on Superman and insulting Siegel and Shuster’s creation by portraying him as a spineless tool, in order to build his fascist version of Batman up.

Miller is not a mainstream creator, so I don’t expect his work to reflect mainstream sensibilities. Anyone who knows anything about art would know that Miller has the chops to draw in a more traditional style but chooses not to. Whether you like it or not is up to you but don’t question his skill, he’s proven himself numerous times.

Justin- Let’s say you’re right about a newcomer not getting this published( though I don’t 100% agree, there’s a lot of idiosyncratic art being published) it’s not because Miller is already famous and powerful in the industry, it’s because he’s proven himself to be an artist who experiments and makes deliberate provocative, choices. A newcomer would have no past work to judge against. Like Picasso , he outgrew the traditional style, it’s not that he’s unskilled.

So sad… like a car accident, you can’t help but watch…

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