Posts Tagged ‘Frank Miller’

  Batman Year One is Frank miller’s take on The Dark Knight’s rookie period, that’s told through a comparison of lieutenant James Gordon new arrival in Gotham as well.

In the sort of Miller-trilogy of books you could put this in first, then All-Star, and finally Dark Knight Returns, this one is definitely my favorite. David Mazzucchelli’s art is solid throughout the book, there aren’t a thousand panels of news casts like there are in Dark Knight, but you get all of the information you need, it’s certainly an evolution in Miller’s storytelling from the book about Batman’s end.

The story starts as both me arrive in Gotham, Gordon comes by train, thinking that is no way for him and his pregnant wife to get a good first impression of the city, they should have flown in, to see the lights and the skyline. Almost simultaneously Bruce Wayne is on a plain thinking he should have taken the train in to see Gotham as it is, like he needs to be on street level in his home city he hasn’t been in a dozen years. Throughout the book, it also has inner monologues from both Gordon and Batman. The future Gotham commissioner’s sound like a seasoned policeman, while Batman makes a bunch of rookie mistakes. However in their respective personal lives the opposite is true, James is never sure that bringing his wife was the right idea to bring to Gotham, and his affair with his partner Sara Eisen shows how rocky that life is for him at this point. While Bruce is determined to come into his city and clean it up from the ground up. And yes, his first night out he gets shot and injured, but technically he wasn’t Batman until that night when he was ready to die and give up, a bat flew through his window, fortifying his resolve to the city.

Which, if you think about, and I have, for a moment is strange. There Bruce was, bleeding out in a chair in one of the rooms of his mansion ready to give up and meet his parents in the after world, teetering on whether or not he should ring a bell to have Alfred come and save him. Then just on the moment of deciding Gotham can do it on its own, a disoriented bat crashes through his window, giving him just the right amount of inspiration to drive onward and make his parents proud. Lucky for him he still had enough conciseness left at that point to ring the bell.

After reading this for the first time, I have this forming opinion that, had there been told entirely from the perspective of James Gordon, and have Batman take a minor side story role might have been more interesting. Year One shows Gordon raising through the ranks of the Gotham Police Department, and Batman only shows up a handful of times. It would have shown a more Gordon sided perspective and kept The Dark Knight as an elusive entity, and you could play with the fact no one knows if this masked man is a beast or man, or good, or criminal.

All is good though, the two stories blend where they need to, and you see where James and Bruce are when they aren’t crossing paths, I never felt like there was ever a part where someone was in multiple places. There is an appearance of Selina Kyle, who starts out as a prostitute in a leather outfit, then becomes a jewel thief who dresses like a cat. Where one of if not only, minor complaint comes from. The decision of Selina to go from hooker to jewel thief was lost on me, especially the part where she thinks it is a good idea to dress up like a cat. Catwoman was just in it a few pages and maybe I missed something another reading would clear up.

Year One is well worth a read if you haven’t, it is an enjoyable time that show both the introduction of Batman to Gotham, and Gotham to its future police commissioner.


With that being said, this is the 52nd BatMonday post, making it a full year of Batman. Meaning, this is the last post for my year-long Batman project. I think I learned a few things for my next endeavor, whatever that is, like make things more clear where things are going. I would really like to write more Batman, there are tons of things I hadn’t gotten to, like A Long Halloween, or Arkham Asylum: A serious House on Serious Earth. A lot more characters to show a small spotlight on, I totally would have done Bat-Mite and Azrael if I had more time. I also had this idea of highlighting people who put on the cape and cowl, that werent’ Bruce Wayne. I still might, but I’m at least going to take a break beforehand.

If you have been here for the whole thing Thank You, hell, if this is your first time stumbling across my BAtman ramblings thanks for showing up there is plenty more if you liked what you read. I hope everyone liked anything I said, even in a small nondescript kind of way.

Good Luck and have Batman

~Jason

 Dark Knight Returns is one of the books that seems to be on everyone’s short list of must read Batman stories. Everything about an older retired Batman coming back to take down the criminal low life that spawned up once he went away sounds awesome.

A future Batman story by Frank Miller let’s you know a few things, Batman is going to be one hell of a grizzled old man, he is going to do whatever it takes to make his side the winning side, and Batman is going to act a little crazy while doing it. The art is hit or miss, there are some iconic images in the book, and others look a bit hastily drawn. There is an awful lot of individual panels as well, which is ok, I didn’t get lost in the book, but I’d prefer something that flows more fluid than have too many panels.  It’s not like there is a loss on words either, there is a lot of information given in each of those comic windows.

Back story goes, Batman retired due to the government stepping in on anyone who would dress up and play vigilante, and there may have been some legal trouble. Some of the villains and bad guys wanted to press charges against the heroes, but the police couldn’t arrest a masked man. Actually, it kind of sounds like Marvel’s Civil War storyline, after that happened, and you only see the dark future if Ironman won out. Honestly, I don’t know how that actually ended, the concerns of that universe are for another time.

In the Batman cosmos, some heroes sided with the government, some decided to stop, and others decided to fight. Eventually the government won and out and stop to masked vigilantism, but that didn’t stop the criminal underbelly of Gotham from overloading and exploding throughout the years of Bruce’s secret retirement.

Of course Bruce doesn’t like any sense of that. At the start of where the story starts ten years after that, the former Batman is on a track, in a car racing about. He gets into an accident, but Bruce escaped for the most part unscathed, seems old Bruce still searched for some excitement from time to time.

At one point James Gordon and Bruce Wayne are having a drink to celebrate Gordon’s soon retirement, in which they have a conversation about Bruce having to stop being Batman and what he did to cope with being forced out. Turns out it was alcohol.

Everything in Gotham went to hell when Batman went away, unsettling to Bruce after the years. So when his old friend Harvey Dent snaps back into being an outlaw, albeit a ultimately brief excursion in the story, that’s the catalyst Bruce needs to go and put the cape and cowl back on.

After that, the story goes and doesn’t look back. Bruce brings back the Bat, troubling for some, including Dr. Bartholomew Wolper, a psychiatrist of sorts, to the former Rogues Gallery of Gotham, most notably the aforementioned Harvey Dent and a catatonic like The Joker. In returning to Batman, he also inspires others to stand up for themselves and not take the over growing crime laying down. So out of that comes a new Robin.

  Enter Carrie Kelley, and I will say she may perhaps be the single most important character that Batman saved one night. Without her deciding to seek out and help Batman, Bruce dies face down in the mud during a fight with the leader of the Mutant gang, the most anti-climatic ending this book could have. Instead an overenthusiastic old man running around like he was twenty, “baptised by the rain”, in his words, decides to go toe to toe with a man at least half his age and twice his size, because he had to know if he could. Not stopping to think if he should, which isn’t the type of thing Batman does characteristically, but he is a bit rusty and impatient. Good thing a new Robin spawned into the light at the last second to stop Batman from having his head caved in.

Inevitably two important people see what Bruce has done. The government catches what’s up and President Reagan sends Superman to see what’s up, and to tell Bruce to stop. The other one, is The Joker, who comes out of his mellow comatose like phase and starts killing people again, starting with a late night talk show audience on television.

The conclusion to both of these threads could have been the climax to the book. Batman ends his longtime feud with The Joker permanently, and as an old man fights Superman. And wins.

Batman ending The Joker is a big deal. Even though Bruce doesn’t go all the way and intentionally left his old foe paralyzed, a younger Bruce wouldn’t have ever gone through and done that, or else he would have done so before. Even though killing The Joker is something that has probably crossed his mind more than once. Over the years the thought of killing Joker must have worn down Bruce over the years, added to Batman’s new thirst for vengeance, and The Dark Knight no longer puts up with his adversary anymore. However in the end, Batman gave Joker the upper hand and with a twist of his neck, The Joker finished what Batman couldn’t and killed himself.

The epic fight between Batman and Superman still stands as one of the most iconic clashes in comics. Even the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie is taking some imagery from this. There’s something about Batman putting on a suit of armor to go one on one with The Big Blue Boy Scout, with a plan of course. Even in a weakened state that Superman was, apparently  a nuclear bomb can take Superman down a peg or two, it still took everything Batman had. The fight itself is epic, Batman has to use his allies, as well as the big battle suit to fight Clark. Even though there is a huge foreshadowing moment when Bruce brings up Oliver Queen when Superman comes with a government approved cease and desist order. A balding Emerald Archer comes out of nowhere to snipe Superman with a kryptonite arrow. It’s not enough to kill Clark, that’s not what Bruce wants, but it is enough to turn the tide of the fight in Bruce’s favor, and he beats Superman, and Batman wants Clark to know that.

In the end, Bruce knows he can’t do everything as an old man, and resurrecting Batman started inspiring people to follow in his footsteps. During the fight with Superman Bruce fakes his death after giving Clark a pummeling,  and goes underground where he and Robin can round-up those who want to be taught by Batman to take a stand against crime. It’s a good ending you don’t see coming.

If you’re interested in this, as you should be, and don’t like reading, which makes you lame, DC decided to make this an animated movie. Instead of condensing the story down to eighty minutes, they divided it up into two parts. Not cutting half the story was a good idea.

Peter Weller lends his voice to Batman here, and is fantastic. Something about Robocop as an older Dark Knight hits a weird spot. The rest of the voices aren’t to shabby either. Although I will say I thought David Selby’s Commissioner Gordon would break out into a southern drawl at some point, he never did.

The look and the animation is superb, this is my favorite DC animated movie to date. DC took one of their all time best stories and did an excellent job adopting it into another form of media, which as we all know can be super tricky.

If you consider yourself a Batman fan, and for whatever reason haven’t read or watched The Dark Knight Returns, you really, really should.

 

Written by Frank Miller with Jim Lee’s art All-Star Batman graphic novel is dividing to put it mildly.

The visuals Jim Lee provides might be my favorite Batman comic art. It looks good, some of the non action sequences look just as good posterized as some of the big splash pages, and the colors are well done.

Story wise, it seems with other Frank Miller tales of The Bat, Batman looks a little unhinged.

I like this book, it’s an interesting take on a partial retelling of how Batman met Robin. Sort of. Before you think about what’s happening.

The story doesn’t pull anything from left field and all the pieces are where you would think they are. Bruce Wayne’s parents tragically die in an alley, skip a few decades and he’s now Batman hunting criminals in Gotham city. Wayne one night goes to the circus, and witnesses the same thing happen to a boy the same age he was when his world crashed around him.

And then things get real nuts.

Right off the start, Bruce outright kidnaps young Dick Grayson by way of Batman, takes him to the Batcave and tells him he has to fend for himself for a while. So For a good chunk of the book Dick Grayson turns almost feral living in the Batcave subsisting on a majority of rats as his diet. Grossly extreme if you ask me.

Throughout the book you see how this more extreme version of Batman. Miller’s views other members of The Justice League are as far as how he writes Batman.

Wonder Woman has a man-hating feminazi attitude, she neither promotes women, nor show any compassion at all towards anyone. Wonder Woman is in one scene, a secret meeting of The Justice League, where she calls a random guy on the street a “sperm-bank”, repeatedly says she hates everyone in The Justice League, hates Batman, calls Superman a wuss for not making everyone bend to his will, and just has general contempt for men for making the world a terrible place in eight pages. Then Superman scoops her up gives her a kiss, Wonder Woman leaves stating one last time on her way out she hates them all and Superman just says, “She’s a really nice girl”. The whole scene makes all those characters out-of-place, and Wonder Woman is so poorly written, she didn’t need to be there, vocalizing how much she thinks everyone sucks, but she has to because traditionally she belongs to that group.

Throughout the book Batman berates Hal Jordan for not wiping out all crime with his ring, and saying he would do a better job with it. Batman’s fascination with Green Lantern’s power ring is so overboard there is a scene in which Batman and Robin put on all yellow suits in an all yellow room and invite Green Lantern to talk. Once they’re all together, The Dark Knight even offers Jordan a nice refreshing glass of iced cold lemonade to quench his thirst. To say Batman is a bit of a dick in All-Star is putting it mild. To put insult to injury Batman even has Robin fight the weakened hero. A grown man tells a twelve-year-old to fight a Green Lantern without his ring. Which seems like it would be one-sided, but apparently Batman put a little too much savagery into Robins training and Dick punches Hal in the throat and nearly kills him, if Batman wasn’t there to administer first aid right as Hal Jordan collapsed Robin would have murdered a superhero.

If you like a different take on Batman, especially those where Batman loves being the “Goddamned Batman” and isn’t afraid to tell you, upon riding a very tall noble steed, and can overlook how certain characters are portrayed as their own worst versions of themselves through stereotypes, this might be entertaining for an elseworlds tale. However, there was supposed to be more of this, at least a second volume, that’s very unlikely to happen at this point, and maybe that’s more a good thing now.