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AICN Comics: Cormorant & Laner Take In Frank Miller's DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN #1!!!

Harry here... Unfortunately I'm at that fricked up period where I can't buy myself anything on account of my birthday and Christmas.... ARGH! But I'm dying to get my paws on this puppy. I mean dying to get my hands on it. Maybe I should buy it for Dad for Christmas... hehehehe... take a while wrapping it up.... perusing it all slick like.... hehehe... Sigh... December 13th almost here.... Hang on Harry, you can make it...

The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1

Written and illustrated by Frank Miller

Coloring by Lynn Varley

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed by Cormorant

Yes, it’s worth your money! That’s the real question, right? And now that you know, this concludes our review. What? A little more detail? Right, right…

It goes without saying that The Dark Knight Returns is one of the all-time sacred superhero texts. For the two or three people out there who’ve never read it, it’s the story of a fifty-something Batman coming out of retirement in a bleak future in which superheroes have been outlawed and crime runs rampant. Creator Frank Miller used the futuristic setting to reinvigorate the Batman myth, explore the concept of vigilantism, satirize targets ranging from Ronald Reagan to new-agey psychiatrists, and generally take readers on one of the coolest, most brutal superhero rides ever.

It’s almost a given that a sequel can’t live up to the excitement of the original, but having just read the first installment of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, a three-part follow-up to Dark Knight Returns, I’d say Miller is off to a fine start. I was fearful he’d pull an Escape From L.A., but I think we’re more likely to get a Terminator 2 – not wholly original, but different enough to stand on its own, and elevated by quality craftsmanship.

The story opens three years after the events in Dark Knight, which led to Bruce going underground again. In those three years, America has grown prosperous and crime has dwindled, but Bruce sees the fascism and media manipulation underlying the prosperity, and he’s tired of hiding from it. Or, as a grown up Jimmy Olson puts it, “This is bullshit!” Olson still wears the bow tie, but he’s a maverick journalist now, and when he cries out, “Where are our heroes?”, he’s pretty much setting the stage for what’s to come. See, superheroes still exist in the future, but only a guy like with Batman’s resources can bring ‘em back to the surface, and that’s what this first issue is chiefly concerned with. I won’t spoil who shows, but I will say that half the fun of the story is seeing some of the great icons make their return, and there are a *lot* of ‘em. In fact, it feels downright Silver Age-y at times, which may make some fans uncomfortable, but I think just as many will be grinning like I was.

My one gripe about seeing the legends again is that Superman, portrayed as a government stooge in the first Dark Knight, has if anything, only become more pathetic. My instincts tell me that Miller ultimately wants to redeem Superman before the series ends, but apparently he’s not done taking potshots at him yet, and he’s even placed two other giants of the DC universe in similar positions. Of course, Superman can be seen to represent the compromises that lead to fascism in Miller’s worldview, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the big guy takes a beating again.

Visually, DK2 is a slightly mixed bag. Personally, I’ve enjoyed Miller’s evolution towards a more cartoony style following his breakthroughs on Sin City, but he’s reaching a point where I’d like to see him reigned in a bit. It’s clear that Miller is having loads of fun drawing this baby, but I think he’s letting his exuberance override his craftsmanship at times. Great forms and layouts, but I miss some of the detail he used to include. Collaborator Lynn Varley’s first foray into computer coloring, much criticized based on early previews, is neither the mess some feared nor the high quality I’ve come to expect from her. There’s an over reliance on cheesy special effects that bothers me, and the digital look in general -- sometimes deliberately involving pixelization -- plays against the authenticity of Miller’s gritty cartooning.

Final verdict: I’m there. A few gripes aside, this looks to be another roller coaster ride from the master. I loved seeing Carrie Kelley, the former Robin, now an impressive hero in her own right as the field commander of Batman’s forces. Her new Catgirl identity is perfect for a rebellious sixteen-year-old who doesn’t give a hoot for tradition. Loved seeing the classic heroes too, all of ‘em given the Frank Miller spin. Lots of action, big ideas, snappy Miller futurespeak, subversive elements…don’t expect the revolution of the original, but do expect a damn good time.

Score: 8 out of 10

And now another view....


To be redundant....long time reader, first time reviewer. I have long been a comic book fan. I first started reading comics when Erik Larsen was penciling his run on Spiderman. Since then, I have been hooked on this medium of entertainment. Frank Miller's 'Dark Knight Returns' has been my favorite read...ever. I've read it all. I've read anything substantial from Moore, Miller, McFarlane, Lee,....god forbid...Liefeld.(in no way am I minimilazing Stan Lee, Bob Kane,etc., etc.) Basically, I grew up on Image comics. I grew up where art meant more than story, but I was lucky enough to have my older brother introduce me to "grown up" comics. Which by the way, brings me to DK2.

I hammered into my brain that I would not try to compare DK2 to Frank's original series. I am being subjective. I will not allow myself to put what could very easily be argued as the best series of all time against its sequal. So, as a comic fan, I ask all that read this story to just drop your expectations (we all know what that did when we saw Episode I.) With that, Miller's first issue of DK2 just plain rocked! What a phenominal comic. I love the fact that Batman was not fully shown until the very end. His presence gave me the chills. Basically, what a great way to build up a character. my review.

For all you long time DC fans (which I am not, by the by), the way Jimmy Olsen is handled, fucking great. He is no longer the "aww shucks" character he was back in the day. He is a fucking rebel. He's seen it all. He is the epitome of jurnalistic integrity. He asks the hard questions, better yet, he speaks, better yet, yells at his superiors in order to let the public know what is going on. His short appearance in this comic is worth the $7.95.

The introduction of The Atom.....WOW! I will not give anything away, but, this is how you make an impact on the people who have forgotten about a second tier character (Which I was.....I basically knew squat about this character, but with his introduction into this particular comic, I care about him big time!!)

Okay, BAD GUYS....fucking Lex Luthor...he has never been so rutheless. He broke down Shazaam, Wonder Woman, and Supes in a short speech. He left them speachless, and more importantly, powerless all within a paragraph. Secondly, Brainiac, he left Superman shattered by the end of his two page appearance. Our bad guys have been established super quick, and their power intimated our heros faster than The Flash can run the forty.

Lastly, you get to see Supes and the Bat square off. If you thought Batman was smart when he broke down the JLA, you aint seen nothin. You think Bat's and Supe's fight in 'The Dark Knight Returns' was monumental, Frank Miller squares that, easily. (Bonus, you get to see Ollie Queen again, just being a badass, and better yet, Supes kind of quivers when he sees what Ollie is about to do)

All I can say is, this comic met my expectations, and the final page is to die for. Batman is super BADASS, not to mention Carrie. Now that she is Catwoman, three years older since we last saw her, she would fuckin kill any three of the Robins that we've seen in regular continuity. Basically, go grab this comic....if you can find it....steal it if you have to.

Call me Laner.

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