Oriana's Reviews > Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Batman by Frank Miller
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's review
Aug 30, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: read-2010, why-werent-you-better, books-with-pix, jugs-capes
Read from August 30 to September 10, 2010

book #5 for Jugs & Capes, my all-girl graphic-novel book club!


I missed the book-group discussion for this, which is a huge bummer; I would have loved to hear what my smart ladyfriends would have said. (I had a good excuse though: I went to go see ZZ Top instead. It was bad ass.)

In any case, I was really disappointed by this book. It's not just that it's not really my thing; it's not, but I really wanted to like it. It wasn't the violence, or the disjointed story, or the constant feeling that I was missing a lot of really important history, or the hype, or the fame, or the movies, or the kitch, or anything else. It was all of those things, true, but more than that, it just didn't jive at all with the image I've been handed about this book's game-changer-ness. It didn't blow my mind, and I really thought it was supposed to.

I mentioned this to a comics fanboy friend, and he got (unsurprisingly) very indignant. He went off on a long monologue about how, in one scene, Batman is shown wearing a sweatshirt, and how that boggled the brains of everyone in the comics world. According to my friend, before this book, no one had ever thought about what superheroes wear under their costumes. No one had thought about them lounging around at home, what their actual bodies looked like, what their personal styles were. And for Frank Miller to allow Batman to grow older and sit around the house in comfy clothes...well, it was a revelation.

But here's the thing: that's just not true anymore.

I kind of felt the same way about reading this that I felt when I watched Citizen Kane for the first time, which was only a few years ago. (You can see that there are great gaping holes in my pop-culture knowledge.) I know that Kane and Dark Knight are meant to be both pinnacles and ground-breakers of their respective forms. And I could kind of understand how that might have been true then, but now? In 2010, for me to come to Dark Knight with no knowledge of comic-book history and tropes, living in a CGI world, an indie-fabulous world, a YouTube world, a world where everything Frank Miller and Orson Welles did then has now been exponentially permutated and shifted and reconsidered from every possible angle...well, their efforts just aren't that impressive anymore.

Which made me question the whole idea of a "classic", you know? I mean, shouldn't a classic transcend time? If the newness and original-ness can't continue to be impressive and interesting a decade or so later, what are you left with? A relic, it seems to me.
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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Frank Miller and Klaus Janson have so incredibly many fans in the comic fandom! But I felt almost the same when I read the Daredevil-run by them. I wanted to love it, but then I had to be honest to myself and admit that I liked Gene Colan much, much better. But I´m afraid this is a social suicide...

Oriana Haha that's too fanboy-ish for me, I don't know who Gene Colan is. : )

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