I waffled between here and the Pit. Then I figured, here, because I’m more baffled than angry, and I don’t feel like using gratuitous profanity.
So I wander down to the nearby Barders and Norders bookstore a few nights ago, because as always I don’t have nearly enough books to utterly drown my apartment in yet. (It’s a neverending quest. You understand.) At one point in my wending through the racks, I browse through their small but impressively non-organized clutch of graphic novels. A couple things caught my eye: The Dark Knight Strikes Back it says here. Frank Miller. “Long-awaited follow-up to The Dark Knight Returns.” Neat, I think. DKR is one of my favorite standalone comic book collections, ranking right up with Watchmen. There’s two volumes, out of three apparently, rather slim things.
I grab them with the armload of other weightier material, and settle into a comfy chair that’s more a chair-shaped pile of soft cushions than an actual chair. (My spine, praise be, is still young enough to enjoy such seating arrangements.) I open volume 1 of 3, and…
What the hell am I reading here? Apparently, everyone in this story has pretty much lost their inner narrative. Batman looms about in the background while his army incoherently frees a bunch of superhero types. Superman’s gone from someone exiled by hard choices coexisting with his ideals to a whining cowardly puppet. Batman’s no longer a tormented soul, now he’s just some psychotic jerk bellowing about war on his rare appearances, the longest of which is a gratuitously brutal beatdown of Supes. The flow of the panels themselves are incoherent–I’m theorizing that perhaps there was a massive printing error, only every other panel was put on the page. Or every third. And then randomized.
Is there some other guy named Frank Miller running around doing comics? I carefully checked the covers after I got through this trainwreck, thinking perhaps I’d misread and that it was actually by Frank Myller, or perhaps Franc Miler–you know, sort of like at Bruce Lee’s popularity-height there were various cheaper kung-fu flicks starring people like Bruce Li and Broose Leeee. But it appeared to have been spelled the same.
Now, I don’t know the world of comics all that well, or the personalities within it. I just know that this Miller fellow has done some books I rather enjoyed. Did he have a debilitating stroke between DKR and DKSB? I don’t know–I’ll feel pretty badly about saying such harsh things if that’s the case, like I’d feel pretty low badmouthing a fingerpainting by some unfortunate soul who lost his fingers.
All in all, I didn’t like it much. I think I can do without reading volume 3.