Thursday, July 14, 2005


I liked The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One and was warned off The Dark Knight Strikes Again before I could read it, thus my Frank Miller Batman experience has been largely positive. So I suppose that in my sheltered existence I was a little unprepared for this... tripe.

There's not much in the way of redeeming features here. Maybe the Jim Lee cheesecake art (which rates lower than it used to on the hormonal meter because while Lee's Bruce is very, very pretty... Lee Bermejo's Bruce is hot), but that's only a maybe because I wanted to see something I hadn't seen in Hush and I didn't. Except maybe a more thorough study of the sort of lingerie men fantasize that women wear when they're home alone but really don't.

In tone and text, Miller is going for a Sin City feel, but it's not happening. The stylized monologues are out of sync with the story, not to mention not fitting well over Lee's compositions and Alex Sinclair's bright color palette, and the genre dialogue ("Go back to your newspaper, Sexpot.") sounds wooden and falls flat because it's up against too much modern slang and phraseology. It was supposed to be all noir and cool, but it ended up reading like Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer voicing over an episode of Baywatch.

What do we actually have? Enough gratuitous T'n'A shots of Vicki Vale, who transforms from Carrie Bradshaw to simpering female to Lois Lane in a dizzying and illogical rush, to qualify this book for honorary membership at Top Cow. There's the stalkeresque Bruce himself -- Vicki's right, why is he following Dick's career -- who is reduced to just another Miller archetype once he pulls on the cowl. There's Alfred, but he's only really a caricature with ludicrous dialogue whose sole purpose is to fuss. Dick is a dissonant combination of youthful innocence and mature cynicism. And there's a "plot", which is really a composite of many storylines Miller has already given us elsewhere to greater and more novel effect.

Save yourself the cash and go watch Sin City again.

Along with many others, I thought this book was a bad idea from the start, but I'm not especially gloating at having been proven right. Out of the dozen-ish Batbooks, there are four that focus primarily on Batman himself (Batman, Gotham Knights, Detective, Legends of the Dark Knight). Do we really need another? Was there some reason why this Miller/Lee arc couldn't have been folded into, say, LotDK, a Batbook that hasn't mattered in years and could have used the boost? It's not like this title is appealing to a different demographic than the other Batbooks. It's certainly not more kid-friendly.

And what happens when Miller and Lee go away? (We all sigh with relief and then cry at what they've done to continuity because this run will still be going on post-Crisis II.) There aren't enough decent writers covering the Batbooks now. At best this becomes a maxi-series. More likely, however, is that this title gets handed from writer to writer, decreasing in quality and relevance, until it gets handed to someone like Andersen Gabrych, who can gussy things up but won't have the cache to draw readers to his efforts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

amazingly, there was NOTHING in this review I disagreed with. Spot on, and I couldn't have said it better myself.


Fri Jul 15, 07:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Anagramsci said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Mon Jul 18, 07:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Anagramsci said...

I quite agree--this was an absolutely terrible book...the only thing that might redeem it (as a startling statement about Batman, I mean---I would still hate it, of course--and Batman in general...) is if it is later revealed that Bruce hired those gunmen to kill the Graysons... anyone remember Nanny and the Orphanmaker?


Mon Jul 18, 07:23:00 PM EDT  

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