Monday, February 20, 2006

Holy Shit! Are you people nuts or something? Dark Knight Strikes Again RULES!

I am not big on the ol' "What's with all the ____ hate?" vibe. I think stuff like that is just people trying to disguise "You disagree with ME?" as a question to others, when it really IS simply "You disagree with ME?!" I really do not mind that Dark Knight Srikes Again gets treated fairly poorly in the cultural subconscious. I really do not mind that not only does it get ripped on a lot, but it gets ripped on in that casual sense where people rip on it without any fear of hearing someone disagree with them, because there is a certain sense of confidence that no one WILL disagree with them. No, I really do not care about that stuff, so the whole "are you guys nuts or something?" stuff is just me messing around. With that being said, Dark Knight Strikes Again is really quite good.

I personally had not read Dark Knight Strikes Again since it was released, in 2002. Which is a long time to not read a Batman comic by Frank Miller (I have re-read both Year One and Dark Knight Returns within the last year or so). What I was taken aback by was just how NORMAL the comic was. It was just so....pretenseless.

It's funny...when reading about Dark Knight Strikes Again, you often will hear about all the commentary Miller is making. But, really, the level of commentary is fairly thin in scope. I mean, it is interesting and all, and fun to see stuff like a fictional president controlled by businessmen (who the people, even though they're pretty sure he is not even REAL, still re-elect), newscasters who report the news nude, commentary on the celebrity aspects of manufactered bands like the Spice Girls (only done with Superchix), a John Aschcroft parody. In addition, the main plot of Dark Knight Strikes Again is a larger commentary about how, since Dark Knight Returns, superheroes are seen as "lame." So, therefore, with this project, Miller has Batman bring BACK superheroes to the world, in all their glory, thereby saving the world from its drab existence. All this commentary is THERE, but the commentary is not all that deep. So while it is fun to see, it is not that important.

No, the fun part about Dark Knight Strikes Again is just how Miller tells this complete story with a good plot and a lot of great scenes mixed together.

Okay, so while I really do not mind that people dislike this series, let me address two issues that pop up a lot in the critique of Dark Knight Strikes Again.

1. The crude art - I really don't see this. His is certainly different from Dark Knight Returns, which is much tighter, but his art still looks really good in this series, too. His art and Lynn Varley's coloring is a good deal loose, which is clearly an intentional move on their parts, but at the same time, I do not believe it negatively affects the overall art at all. The art still looks really good. It looks good in a different way than his art looked good on Dark Knight Returns or his Daredevil, but it is still remarkable art, I think.

There IS a depiction of Brainiac's ship that is bad, and I remember that depiction being singled out, and I will agree there, but that only appears on, like, six out of four HUNDRED panels, so I cannot begrudge the guy that.

2. Dick Grayson - One of the things that struck me in this comic was just how RESPECTFUL Miller was to all the heroes. Sure, he has Superman go through a lot of crap, but for the most part, Miller only does so because he wants Superman to be BETTER by the end of the series, and he IS. In fact, Batman even points out at one point that he understands Superman's action a bit (Superman is being a tad too subservient because he is trying to protect the 10 million Kandorians who are held hostage by Brainiac).

However, one hero who does NOT get respect is Dick Grayson.

So, yeah, if you are a huge Dick Grayson fan, then I can understand how you would not like this comic (and, okay, J'onn J'onnz doesn't fare that well, either).

But it did not bug me that much. Especially because the Dick as villain scenes are only a few scenes in the overall comic, so while yeah, I get how people could have a problem with those scenes, I do not get it being a major impact upon the overall series.

The overall series has, in my view:

1. Cool art

2. A good story about Batman deciding to bring back the "age of superheroes" that has been lost since Dark Knight Returns.

3. A number of really clever, dramatic scenes that further the overall plot (the 10 million Kandorians all getting super powers, although still small...the Atom scenes...the Flash scenes....the Plastic Man scenes....the Superman/Wonder Woman sex scene...TONS of scenes, really).

Well...what more does a comic really NEED?

I dug this comic a lot.

I think I still liked Year 100 better, but it is a close fight.

Read More

38 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

I haven't read it since it came out, so I can't speak about it too much, but I remember just being disappointed by it. I don't hate it, but I think that after all the other interesting stuff Miller has written, and coming on the heels of 300, which I loved, it was just kind of weird. I don't like the art all that much, although it's decent enough, but it felt like Miller wanted us to believe he had something more to say, but he didn't. It was, what, 20 dollars for just vacuous entertainment. There's certainly nothing wrong with vacuous entertainment, but when you're expecting more, it bugs me. I think that's why people get upset about it - it wasn't what they wanted. They came in with certain expectations, and when they weren't fulfilled, they stopped focusing on the work itself and how Miller disappointed them. At least that's the way I read it when I read about criticism of it.

2/20/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the last line-a lot. It got me to buy book three. But even so the cover price here in Canada was $13.25 per issue. That's pretty steep for a single issue. I kind of felt that at $13.25 per issue the art had better be hyper detailed, like topping Geoff Darrow, and the story should be really dense. And it wasn't.

I liked the art ok. The computer colouring looked sharp. The dialogue was clever and funny in places. But the story was a little slight and it kinda felt like a rip-off. If it was five dollars an issue rather than triple that I don't think I'd be so annoyed with it.

2/20/2006 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Iagorune said...

I really liked the series right from the start. I thought it was a very different book then DKR, but still completly worthwhile and good violent fun.

I figure that the main reason that the series was so completly rejected by the majority of comicfans was because the original series set such a high standard that any book that followed it up was going to be judged harshly, and any book that departed from the original as much as DKSA did was going to just piss some people off.

But like I said, I thought it was a great book, with great respect for its characters and some really silly social commentary and recommend that people who read it once a few years ago and didn't like it, give it a second look.

They might be surprised.

- rick

2/20/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Trebbers said...

Yeah, I felt let down when it came out, and didn't even bother to pick up the last issue. But I read the whole thing recently, with much lower expectations, and ended up liking it quite a bit. Doesn't come close to touching DKR, but it's still fun.

One thing I def. didn't warm to was the coloring. Can't imagine what Miller/Varley were thinking on that one.

2/20/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Griswold said...

I loved DKSA. A friend of mine who is a hardcore DC nerd - no, just a hardcore bad nerd, really - hated it, and he left a copy in the backseat of his car. He, my girlfriend and I were driving around one day, and I sat in the back reading it, just laughing and laughing. I had so much fun reading it.

I think a lot of people got hung up on comparisons to DKR.

Oh, one criticism I read within the past few months was that he introduces the villain in the third issue. I can't remember how true that was, but your post made me want to read it again, so I'll be taking a look at that for myself.

2/20/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

The villain was not introduced in the third issue, but we learn that the "Joker" is Dick Grayson in the third issue.

The villains are present the entire series (Luthor, Brainiac and "Joker").

2/20/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Personally, I loved the first issue, liked the second, and disliked the third. It would have taken at least three more issues for me to get to hate.

2/20/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

I'm convinced DKSA only works completely if you have a seething, all consuming hatred for Paul Levitz.

This rule also applies to ASBARTBW.

Other than that, I find it to be a mildly diverting, but otherwise weak satire.

And consider this question, true believers: if Batman's so smart he can think up how to beat the villains and free all the heroes...

...why doesn't he even consider the possibility that Luthor has Kandor under his thumb before beating Superman senseless 200 times?

Because Superman let Miller down once, and he never forgave him for it.

2/20/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

For my money, the reason DKSA is a weak story is because DKR is not a story that should ever be continued. It's too powerful and resonant to have a sequel logjammed onto the end that redefines everything you know to be true. If Miller wanted to tell a story that reconstructs heroes, fine. That's all to the good. Deconstructing heroes has been done beyond ad nauseum and all the people who keep trying should be shot (in the arm, I'm not an animal). However, he should have told a new story. If he's as good a writer as his hype implies, that shouldn't be too hard. When a writer tells a story, they build a contract with their readers, a view of the world, and with DKSA, Miller broke his.

2/20/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger MobileDitty said...

DKR was a wicked dark comedy. I mean, how can you NOT be both repulsed and tickled by lines like, "Woman explodes on subway. Film at 11." (if that's not an exact quote, sorry, don't have the comic in front of me). It's a funny, dark, strange Batman that manages to conclude the story in a good way. Robin Hood goes off on a new adventure under a new name.

The trouble was, a lot of the Batman comics that came after forgot that DKR Batman was funny. One of the defining images of that version is Batman, tip-toeing on a Tank, grinning as he's about to fight a guy with razor sharp teeth. This isn't a Batman that's playing with a full deck--and not one that should be done without tongue in cheek. A lot of writers seemed to forget that.

Even Miller! Year One doesn't work, for me at least, as a funny book--and the jokes are pretty nil. This is a different version of Batman--one that has all the cooky darkness of the DKR Batman, but doesn't realize how silly it all is. Batman in DKR knows, on some level, that he's a man in a clown suit and accepts this. The Year One Batman hasn't figured that out yet. And neither had any writer that followed the one-two punch of DKR and Year One.

And thus begins Batman's slow descent into Bat-hole, the JLA's resident assjerk.

Cut to DKSA. Miller goes back to a goofy, funny story that (in some ways for me) satarizes the comic book industry. Wonder Woman and Superman having sex straight out of fan-fiction and making mountains fall down. Captain Marvel, too old and used up to be of any use in the drab world, his technicolor brilliance crushed by a giant wall of grey. THE ATOM JUMPING OUT OF A PETRI DISH! It's a bunch of big, goofy comicbook ideas, cut with Miller's wit. It's also pretty creepy, what with the 90+ something Batman (who always sounded like Jack Palance in my head) and his teenage girlfriend--who started out as his JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL AGED sidekick. Talk about YEESH! This is up there with Nancy falling for Hartigan when she was 11.

And another Yeesh is Robin, because his appearance isn't as much fun as it is creepy and gross. But that's the comic. It's big, bright crayons splayed out in a world of tweed. It's the art and soul of comics of yesteryear vs. the corporatized comics of the now--produced by one of the bigger comics corporations--who probably just assumed that it was everyone BUT them who was getting lumped into the stupid drabness. And most folks hated it, but I loved it.

Now, ASSBAR, I can leave that. If you ever saw 'That's My Bush', this is what ASSBAR reminds me of. 'That's My Bush' was a purposely badly written sitcom. It was a satire of badly written sitcoms. While this is a cutting edge high-concept idea, unfortunately, you just end up with a bad sitcom at the end of the day. That's what the few issues of the comic have been for me on quick scans. I was hoping for another dichotomy like DKR/Year One.

Anyway, DKSA is good stuff, even with (and maybe because of) the creepy fascistic fetishism of the whole thing. But the last image for me wasn't Superman about to take over the real world. It was Superman poised to take over Superhero Pop Culture again.

Luckily, Grant Morrison was able to come along and fulfill the promise of that last image with All-Star Superman.

Bottom Line: DKSA is a lot of fun. Try watching 'Shane' and reading Batman's dialogue like Jack Palance, and it'll be all good.

2/21/2006 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Sleestak said...

I really liked it, but thought the references and style dated (as if you discovered Max headroom in 2006). Still entertaining. If it had come out within a year or two after DKR it would have been a smash hit and a fan favorite until today.

2/21/2006 12:41:00 AM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

I come at this with interesting investments...my two favorite characters are Nightwing/Original Robin and Plastic Man.

With that in mind, I hated (I repeat, hated) it.

I loved how Plastic Man was used and respected, but that was a small part that got buried in the middle of the comic.

The end of the final issue, basically seemed like the entire series was a lead-in to say that Dick Grayson was, well, a d***.

I think this may have been something Johns (yes, I invoked an unholy one to many of you) addressed in Infinite Crisis, wherein Dick was the only good thing about both worlds.

It was very disrespectful to the character, and I think, even more disrespectful than Johns, et al were to Ted Kord. Ted died with some dignity, but Miller wasn't content to just not use Dick...he had to desecrate his memory (something that has been addressed many times on this blog, especially in the case of Harvey Bullock). There was no purpose to using Dick, other than to insult him and glorify a Robin that very few liked or were even given a reason to like.

2/21/2006 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I quite like DKSA/DK2; it's a good fun romp through a cynical setting, a last hurrah for the Justice League. I prefer the art to that of the original DKR, although the colouring bothers me. And I've never been sure what the point of the "Joker" subplot was, beyond filling space.

But on the whole, I liked it a lot more than most at the time.

2/21/2006 01:41:00 AM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

Why did my comment only show up in the Blogger section and not the article page?

2/21/2006 01:53:00 AM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

Nevermind, it finally came through. Please disregard my impatience. =)

There was nothing in between sleestak's and kelvingreen's posts for awhile there.

2/21/2006 01:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never felt the burning desire to read it over and over the way I have done with DKR and Year One, but I actually had no problems with DKSA. Especially with the two most-cited complaints. Wait -- three most cited complaints.

1. I loved the art. Did no Miller-Batman fan read any Sin City between DKR and DKSA?

2. Superman and WW have sex in the sky like eagles do. I dug that. I also disagree with the whole complaint that WW was all "whored up" by Miller. Because she has sex with Superman? Good heavens, people!

(I know it was probably actually the racoon eyes. Still. She ain't no whore)

3. Dick Grayson is the Joker. I personally can't stand Dick Grayson, so...uh...works for me. I mean, if fandom can dig the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker where Tim Drake suffers similar treatment, then why not Dick Grayson? Jeepers.

So yeah, I'm in no rush to own it all, but it's actually a-ok by me. I even get a kick out of ASBAR just because it's such a ridiculous parody of Jim Lee's and Miller's previous work both that it's hilarious. But then I'm just weird like that.

-- Anun

2/21/2006 02:12:00 AM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

I also like Tim Drake, so my unabashed love of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm aside, I was displeased with BB:ROTJ.

However, the fundamental difference between Return of the Joker and DKSA is that Dini/Timm allow Robin to redeem himself in the end and make amends (it actually blames Wayne for everything, not Tim) and Miller simply uses Dick as a villain who became that way because it was his own fault.

2/21/2006 02:19:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Mulder, you cited the previous Bullock entry, but if you recall, the Bullock entry was about how, if a writer does not want to write a certain character, the writer should "put that character on a bus" rather than just messing the character up so that future writers cannot use him/her.

That situation does not apply in a comic like DKSA.

The treatment of Ralph and Dick does not impact their current status at ALL.

That's why it doesn't bug me.

2/21/2006 02:41:00 AM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

Brian, maybe it was not exactly the same situation, but I think the example still works, since both characters were ruined for no good reason, as was Ted Kord. Regardless of whether it affects their current status, it shows a fundamental disrespect for the character and a weakness in the writing of the book, which could have been handled a number of other ways (many involving Jason Todd who has already been desecrated and dismissed by the DCU, so why ruin Dick when you have a willing scapegoat? - this is sarcasm, not a real argument).

It may not bother you, but my love of the character forces me to despise this mistreatment. He is used not only to desecrate the character, but also as the final example of Miller's intended message of DKR and DKSA as a continuous idea.

It really says something about that mistreatment when I can stand to read Devin Grayson's entire run on Nightwing, yet cringe to pick up DKSA.

2/21/2006 02:58:00 AM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

But the reason that the argument doesn't apply to Dick Grayson is, as Brain said, it doesn't "ruin" the character. It has no effect on the character's status.

2/21/2006 03:32:00 AM  
Blogger melvin p. mouse said...

DKSA: I waited for it. bought it. loved it. watched as my love for the Dark Knight vanished like the catchy melody of a vapid pop punk tune. forgot about it.

maybe I'll have to read the collection, but I'll bet there are thousands of readers like me.

Somehow, I distrust miller's superhero work after the stuff with Mazzuchelli. and DKSA? DKSA is like the Episode I of the Batman world.

2/21/2006 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

I read it not too long ago, and had been a huge fan of DKR (and for that matter Year one). I was disappointed, because the art seemed both sloppy and rushed - while DKR took its time spelling out the different threats, and had lush panels, DKSA seemed like a colored sketchbook more than a finished product.

I think I was also expecting something a little more like DKR, but I was certainly willing to be surprised; the thing which really let me down was the artwork.

2/21/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Tyler said...

I guess I'm the dissenting opinion on this blog, because I hated it. HATED it. I thought it was absolutely terrible in every way. Having said that, I haven't read it since I bought it in 2002, but I think it's unlikely my feelings would change. Here are some of the reasons I hated it:
1. The coloring. This was Lynn Varley's first experimentation with digital coloring and boy does it show. One image in particular sticks out in my mind: the Question jumping with a fractal rainbow exploding behind him. It literally looked like vomit.
2. The "satire." Satire only works if it's subtle, and Miller is about as subtle as a hammer to the braincase. By the way, News in the Nude? Did Miller realize that they, like, already do this?
3. The subplots that went nowhere. The Question spends the first two issues assembling heroes for his own purposes, but nothing happens with this. In the end he's just in the book to argue philosophy with Green Arrow for one panel. Also, the whole Robin/Joker thing, which wasn't even introduced until the second issue and is wrapped up in two pages in the third issue.
4. Which leads me to an issue someone else already mentioned, about how this plot had already been used in "Batman Beyond." Only then it was, you know, good. I don't think Miller cribed the Batman Beyond story on purpose, but I couldn't help but think of it while I was reading the last issue of DKSA.
5. I hated the part where Batman encourages the Hawk-Kid for smashing Luthor's head. This is the same Batman who couldn't bring himself to kill the Joker in DKR. I just couldn't get past this scene.
6. The art looked like ass.

I know a lot of people defend it as a fun romp, but fun romps still need story coherence and consistent characterization. For instance, All Star Superman is a fun book that doesn't insult its audience like DKSA does. DKSA is just completely awful. And even worse, Frank Miller got a million dollars for this shit!

2/21/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Tyler said...

One other thing I forgot: respectful characterization? Am I remembering wrong or isn't there a panel of Hawk and Dove as bloated old queens?

2/21/2006 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger chasdom said...

I waited a long time to read DKSA, until a softcover collection came out. In the meantime, I heard horrible things about it. When I got it, it sat on my to-read pile for a while. And then, when browsing Amazon one day, I decided to read the reviews, where I found the following caveats in a positive review:

1) It has very little to do with DKR.
2) It's a Justice League story, not a Batman story.
3) It's the Justice League on LSD.

That night, I read it the whole way through. It was really a lot of fun. It's crazy wild.

I think the main problem with the book was the collision of pedastal-level expectations with the reality that this is a "sequel" that is extremely unlike the original. DKR and DKSA are completely separate books, and I never read them together.

I disagree that DKSA is like Star Wars Episode 1. The latter is a passionless, calculated march through the backstory of a classic epic, written by a man who doesn't understand that he is no longer the person who made the original movies.

DKSA, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast than its predecessor, playing to the CURRENT strengths of its creator, instead of trying to recapture the strengths of 16 years prior.

To be honest, I think the biggest flaw of DKSA was its title, promoting it as a sequel to DKR. And that's a marketing issue, which shouldn't take away from the manic beauty of the work itself.

2/21/2006 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Matthe Allen Smith said...

I loved the depictions of Plasticman's transformed into different objects, I thought Millar pulled that off amazingly well.

The satire was too unsubtle to enjoy it on any other level than as a silly guilty pleasure for everything else though. I see people attack it unfairly all the time but it never really grabbed me enough for me to build up the passion to defend it really.

2/21/2006 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jed said...

I like all the comments that start, "I haven't read this since it came out, but..." I remember waiting very eagerly for this series, and very patiently waiting for the late issues once it started being released. I thought it was a bit of a let-down, for sure, but then I recently re-read the collected version, and I have to say, I liked it a lot. I felt like it was satirizing itself to a large degree, but maybe no one agrees with me there.

As for the Dick Grayson reveal, I wasn't a DC comics reader when Batman and Robin I split, but I thought Dick quit to join the Titans and become Nightwing. So I thought that that part was just there to place it squarely out of continuity.

But the part where Elongated Man is introduced is AMAZING. "Ralph Dinby. He hasn't aged well," or whatever. I mean, come on... guys like Ralph don't age well. I actually read a rumor that Identity Crisis was written just to provide a reason for how Ralph could've ended up as such a mess in DKSA.

That was a joke.

2/21/2006 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

It wasn't all *that* unsubtle.

I can tell cause, well, none of y'all seem to have figured out What DKSA was supposed to be about, or how it works.

(Which I'll do a post on.)

I do know that a lot of fans didn't like it. Which surprised the heck outta me. But there's two obvious reasons for that.

(A) The art.

I kinda feel that Comic fans have gotten art-stupider since the late eighties early nineties peak of dudes like Bill Sienkiewicz an' Dave McKean...

But, actually, I'm pretty sure that had they had blogs and message boards back in the day there'd be a large cadre of fans who lambast each and every issue of New Mutants and Signal to Noise with "IT looks likke a three yrear old drew it."

The art in DKSA was unique, a weird meld of Miller's Sin City style, silver age comic artists, and real ARTIST artist. Sure, the whole thing is about capturing the Kirby energy, but there's a hell-of-a-lotta Van Gogh in their, too. Swish! Garrr! Attack! Swirl!

Since DK

Comic fans, who are used to the parade of seven gazillion Neal Adams clone, aren't mentally equipped to deal with art that's more conceptual (The art in DKSA is all about energy and making the heroes look big) than representationalistic.

I sometimes wonder if they're equipped to deal with straight-up cartooning. (Did anybody bitch about Kyle Baker's Plastic Man or Captain America?)

Although I can totally see how the computer coloring was a tad obnoxious.

Plot: Dude. It didn't GO anywhere.

Like Mcguinness/Loeb's Superman/Batman (but way better) (although I liked that too) DKSA was an unconnected series of cool things happening, not really related or joined together. Sure, there was an over-reaching story arc, but it's pretty clear that this was Miller drawing stuff he thought was pretty cool.

There was some heavy subtext goin' down, fo' sho', but the actual plot just kinda fizzled and burned.

(And what the HELL was up with the Green Lantern deux ex machina at the end. I don't have a clue what that was supposed to mean or how it tied into the rest of the themes of the book.)

2/21/2006 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still have major problems with the art. I mean, Miller actually managed to make Wonder Woman ugly, and even Deodato couldn't pull off that trick. Yuck.

Another thing: I agree the use of Dick Grayson was pretty poor, and spat down on the character pretty hard. But let's not conflate this with what DC did with Ted Kord. You may not like the editorial/creative decision to kill off Ted, but the story in which they did it certainly wasn't a desecration of the character. (In fact, I'd argue strongly that it was a full portrayal of the character: he had limited respect from the rest of the hero community, but still acted as a true hero)

Back to DKSA: it really seemed like Miller wasn't sure of his vision on this one. The plot is fairly thin and hangs around mostly in order to let Miller do his warped future designs on characters. Maybe that's all this was supposed to be, but after exploring broader themes in DKR, people expect more.

2/21/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

You're right anonymous...

They did treat Ted with respect (although not Bullock).

Some might argue they made him stupid, however. I'm not one that thinks that, as I saw his death as somewhat heroic in that he couldn't even lie.

That seems to be the death of one of the few characters left anymore that are that noble.

It's also not that people don't get the art. They just don't like it. And that's their right. Sometimes Miller's art works. It worked well for much of DKSA (especially Plastic Man), but there were many parts where it served to disrupt the story and was simply poor quality, whether intended or not.

2/21/2006 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said...

I agree with many of the previous comments. I liked the snarky politico/social commentary in DKR; hated it in DKSA because it was as subtle as a batarang to the nads. Same reason why I loathed the Martha Washington saga after the first TPB. I didn't mind the art so much, because I've gotten used to Miller's funky style since his Daredevil work. The writing was nowhere NEAR DKR levels: I bet any one of us here can rattle off a half-dozen DKR quotes without breaking a sweat. Now think of ONE DKSA quotes without looking it up. My point. Lastly, the ending was absolutely horrible.
"This will be a good life...good enough." It should've ended there.

2/21/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

I don't think the art was poor quality. (Well, maybe there was a panel or two I didn't dig.)

It did exactly what it was supposed to do... It made the heroes look BIG and MYTHIC.

Which is nowhere near the same as making them look good. Remember, Miller had just gotten off 300. (And DKSA was steeped in Greek Myth.)

The superheroes are warriors. And warriors (specially the Spartan kind) are straight-up grimy.
These aren't the bright and shiny Silver Age heroes, any more. These are mythical Gods fighting a war. You're not supposed to think they're sexy.

And the art conveys that VERY well.

Plus the overall design sense was, Jeezus, just phenomenal. Veering madly back from these tiny little scattershot panels of the "meer mortals" to HUGE FULL PAGE SHOTS of the mythic heroes, with art spilling out of the "story" itself all over the back cover.

But nowhere did the art not serve the story.

2/22/2006 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

What sold me on the book was an interview Miller gave where he lamented how super-powers have become accepted plot devices in comics. Nobody is amazed that a man can fly anymore, or that a college professor can shrink himself to subatomic size. DKSA was supposed to be about restoring the sense of wonder and fantasy to it all.

Which is cool. And he kinda does okay with it. The story doesn't work terribly well, but I appreciate the thought.

But the ending? What the hell? Granted, it's been years since I've read it, but that "Robin is a jackass who works for Luthor" ending felt bizarre and pointless. It came out of nowhere, meant nothing, and oozed contempt for...well..I'm not sure what. Modern comics? Young men in chainmail panties? "Dondi?"

Any of that would be fine. But it read like it was tacked on to settle a score, not part of the story. (Yes, the Robin-Joker was wormed through the series; but the reveal and its accompanying bile felt like it came out of nowhere.)

I'll have to crack open my old copies and see if it reads better now.

By the way, as many posters have pointed out, when people say "Miller's being satirical" about something, look at DKSA. His satire is as subtle as an elephant fart in a Russian space station. You can't miss it. Therefore, if you have to strain to see satire, he didn't put it there.

Leastways, that's my theory. And I'm a'stickin' to it.

2/22/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin said...

I took a new look at DKSA.

It's just so CRUDE, totally lacking any coherence, intelligence or subtlety. There is no plot or dialog - it consists of a million inane, unrelated soundbites. It's just unrelentingly stupid, and not in an entertaining way.

2/22/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bret Taylor said...

I really dug DKSA.

Loved it, in fact. Everything about it - the way it was so over the top, the characterization, and especially seeing Lynn Varley go hog wild with Photoshop, instead of just imitating the generic Top Cow/Image style that most colourists seem to follow like the sheep they are.

Did it work all the time? Nope. Would I rather she played it safe and did some pretty paint-by-numbers colouring? Not in a million years.

Then again, I don't need art spoonfed to me.

2/22/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Iagorune said...

I completly agree with Bret about Varley's coloring job. I thought she just went apeshit, crazy and had herself a helluva good time doing it. And the final pages came out looking great.

I do wonder though if one of the things that helps affect how people look at DKSA is how they feel about sequels in general.

Now I for one am not really all that found of sequels. I won’t say that I’ve never seen a good sequel, but they are few and far between.

I think that one of the things that I liked best about DKSA was the fact that is tried hard NOT to be a sequel to the original.

Yeah there were a few thematic connections, but really it is a completely different book.

Which I like, but I can understand why it turned so many people off.

- rick

2/23/2006 02:55:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Yeah. That's probably true.

The tone wasn't just different. It was almost 100% diametrically opposed. Which I can see as bein' a tad frustrating to some readers.

(Not to me. But I tend not to come at art with pre-conceived expectations in the first place.)

2/23/2006 04:08:00 AM  
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