All-Star Batman & Robin

12 06 2006

Or, how I stopped worrying and learned to love my inner bastard

Frank Miller has returned to Batman after years and years, with his writing duties on All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder. (Issue #4 released about three weeks ago) It's had overwhelmingly negative reviews, this one at i-mockery being pretty representative.

Perhaps I enjoyed it more because I missed the first three issues and skipped straight to #4, where I JUST LOVE that Batman is such an arsehole. I've always had a love-hate relationship with Frank Miller's dark take on superheroes; when he's on target, he's revelatory, but he skirts so close to schlock that sometimes his dialogue falls dead flat. So, I'll stick with it for a few more issues.

(Jim Lee, however, is a major impediment to my really truly enjoying the comic. Why are all the women in his universe D-cups? And what's with the plunging necklines and obviously posed lingerie shots? This man's obsession with teen porn and providing fanservice singlehandedly killed the X-Men for me.)

Hmm, All Star Bats would seem to confirm a trend I've noticed in Miller, though, to write his heroes as increasingly violent, unsympathetic and (dare I say it) right-wing. I loved Dark Knight but grimaced through the sequel. Sin City took a million tries to produce two killer ideas (and they were the first two). And Miller served Daredevil well. But his writing has been more and more hamfisted of late. I guess I still hope he'll get back to his roots. Not that I want to return to the pre-Miller (i.e. '70s) Batman. Two words I will always dread: Jim Apparro. I could put up with Ra's Al Ghul and all that magic and Bats looking bug-eyed shocked every second panel and Bruce Wayne jetsetting everywhere and pretending he was a proper dork, and even — ugh! — falling in love twice a year. But seeing Batman smile out of the joy of his heart!? Don't get me wrong, but that Superfriends phase was just plain creepy. And then, in some other issue he's slumping to his knees and screaming at the injustice of it all? That's why I'll be forever in debt to Miller for clearing out all those New-Agey cobwebs from the character.

Now, as it turns out, I've always thought—superhero comics being a very American art form—that the indy titles that went against the grain and showed up supertypes as clumsy symbols of the myth of American exceptionalism were actually truer and more respectful to the genre. Of course, I'm thinking of Watchmen, but also V for Vendetta (Are these Morrison or Moore?). I'm afraid I never got into the recent run of Swamp Thing (the artwork is too busy, and the whole Cthulhu-lite is not pitched to me), but I read the early '90s version and that blew me away.

Morrison. Moore. Gaiman. The Brits really have left a huge stamp on comics.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: