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“And this also has been one of the dark places of the Earth”


Well, my excursion into The Dark Knight Returns is going to be somewhat different from the Watchmen and Animal Man posts, because I just don’t like Miller’s book… However, as I’ve been arguing on the Comics Journal Messageboard, there’s a big difference between “appreciation” and “criticism”–texts do not enter the canon, Stuart Smalley-style, because “people like them”, but because people have written interesting things about them… Thus we can say that The Dark Knight Returns has earned its’ reputation merely by occasioning Geoff Klock’s work, not to mention J.W. Hastings’, Steven@Peiratikos’ and Dave Intermittent’s.

I plan to explore the relation of this book to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (with a sidetrip into Purloined Letter territory), but it’s gonna have to wait until tomorrow! Suffice it to say, for now, that I think Miller’s book works best when there is an analogue of Conrad’s Marlow at the narrative helm, and suffers when we are forced to inhabit the mind of Batman himself–a Kurtz-figure if I ever saw one, a sublime horror, not a protagonist… The strongest moments occur in Part 4, when various awestruck witnesses recount their experiences of Batman as a commanding voice, rather than a man (of course this echoes Marlow’s “A Voice! A Voice!”). In fact, the more I think about this, the more apparent it becomes that DKR could really have benefitted from a narrative structure similar to the one employed by Busiek in Marvels–the two books are basically about the same thing.


Artwise, I much prefer Miller’s Simonsonian performance in this series to anything else of his that I’ve ever seen (and, of course, any Miller is far more interesting than Alex Ross…)


To be continued!

Good night friends!
Dave

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