Scathing Reviews of The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller

With the recent release of the movie The Dark Knight, it seems appropriate to take a look at one of the books that served as an influence. Yes, its time for Scathing Book Reviews of The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller. If you were around in the 1980s and reading comics – uh, I mean graphic novels – you couldn’t escape the hype. The Dark Knight Returns was one of those books that made mainstream media mention in Time Magazine in other periodicals, because it made a big splash by “making Batman dark.”

Well I read it. And I have to say that even then, I couldn’t understand all the praise. Batman as a dark, grief stricken, unhinged creature of the night? Heck, that take on him goes back to the 1960s, with the writer/artist team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. My first introduction to the character in any depth was in “The Untold Legend of the Batman” in 1981, which made the character’s craziness central to the storyline. Guess who was trying to kill Batman in that one – HINT, his initials are BW and he lives in Wayne Manor.

Anyway, while Frank Miller’s books are usually pretty edgy, he seems like an awfully nice guy in interviews. So I’ll have to say – like the author, and appreciate the book, but think its been overpraised. These Scathing Book Reviews of the Dark Knight Returns wish he would just leave Gotham for good:

The art is terrible! rather then giving it a dark feeling, it looks like something from a childrens book that might be called “The Rainy Day” or “the Wet Dog” it uses water colors and weird-shaped heads.

…and:

I love the Bat, and I have tremendous respect for Frank Miller. I was crushed to find this book such a piece of mindless drivel, and frankly, offended. I have lost every bit of respect I ever had for Miller.

…and:

I gave up after about 20 pages of not being able to tell what was going on because of how terribly sloppy the drawings are.

…and:

While the book’s premise (Batman coming out of retirement to save Gotham from a disatrous crime wave) is worthy, Miller’s execution, as both a writer and an artist, sinks the book like a rock.

…and:

This is full of tired cliches of ‘the gritty and dark hero’. I nearly puked reading this book. One of the most overrated comic books ever written by man or beast. Plot? SUCKS. Characters? SUCKS. Writing? SUCKS. Art? SUCKS.

…and from the inevitable ALL CAPS Department, with a great point about the virtue of having Robin along:

WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING A 12-YEAR-OLD (OF EITHER GENDER) COMING ALONG WITH YOU, WEARING BLINDINGLY BRIGHT CLOTHING AND LEGGERY. FRANK MILLER SAYS IT’S TO MAKE BATMAN LOOK BIGGER, BUT I KNOW THE REAL REASON; TO DRAW GUNFIRE AWAY FROM BATMAN.

Scathing Reviews of Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen, by Alan Moore is an award-winning graphic novel currently being adapted into a “Watchmen Movie” by Warner Brothers. We will all know this and more by the time the Studio’s marketing machine finishes it job, and will no doubt be giving each other Watchmen DVDs during Christmas 2009, and probably even Watchmen Watches.

I read Superhero comics back when it was originally published, and finally read it in the 1990s, whilst sipping a Grande Mocha at my neighborhood Barnes & Noble. My impression? To use a fanboy term – “Meh”. I appreciate the effort, and understand its industry impact, but I think its a bit overpraised. Here are some other Scathing Reviews of Watchmen that would encourage you not to Watch the Watchmen:

There are people around who insist on comparing this stuff to great works of literature. I wonder if they ever read any.

…and:

The art is subpar, the cliches glaring, and the “mature humor” nearly as subtle as Roseanne.

…and:

The artwork is gross and uninteresting, the characters, at least in the first 60 pages, are completely boring, uninteresting and hollow. And there’s not a moment of comic relief.

…and:

The story was incredibly average. The art was mediocre at best. Alan Moore’s writing is eloquent but an eloquently written boring story is still boring.

…and:

Teenagers, poorly-read and possessing malnourished tastes in prose, [are] predictably awestruck… They thought it was ‘realistic’; they thought this was ‘great literature’.

…and:

I did not care about the characters at all. Who cares! Oh boo hoo I am a brooding super hero. Feel my pain?

…and:

It is the kind of thing that is trying sooo hard to be deep and witty, but fails miserably because of a lack of ANY REAL STORY… Moore seems to want to remind you on every frickin’ page how clever his “real super heroes” idea is. First of all it ain’t and secondly WE GET IT ALREADY NOW DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

…and, for what I hope is the first and last time that I know of, a link between Citizen Kane and Watchmen:

I would not really call The Watchmen the “Citizen Kane of graphic novels.” It is more like Tarentino’s movie, Pulp Fiction, multiple plot lines, hip references, and plenty of gory violence and power trip fantasies to satisfy a basically adolescent audience.