The Dark Knight Returns

When told my buddy my displeasure over Watchmen, he laughed and said, “Dumbass. Why didn’t you ask me if you’d like it? I would have told you not to buy it. It’s not your type of comic.”

He was right, I should have at least asked, as he would have prepared me. He owns a comic book store and is a good friend, so he knows comics and he knows me. I would have bought it anyway for the discussion we are going to have on it (pushes glasses up), but at least I would have been prepared.

“Come up Sunday,” he went on. “I got some stuff you’ll like.”

So I went up Sunday and picked up a few comics (Stephen King’s comic version of The Stand being one of them. $3.50 for about 12 pages. Fuck you Marvel!), with a high recomendation from my friend for Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.


Now we’re talking.

I’ve been a fan of Frank Miller ever since I read Hard Boiled almost 20 years ago. I’m an extremely casual comic fan, so I probably don’t even have 5% of what Miller did since Hard Boiled and now, but I’ve been pleased with everything he’s done that I’ve read, The Dark Knight Returns is no exception.

Returns is interesting is that it takes place in the future, where Batman is in his 50s and is retired. But a series of events leads him out of retirement, and his age is obviously an issue (he’s still mad as fuck, though).

What’s great about it is it shows not only how human Batman is, but also how angry. I’ve always preferred The Dark Night comics over plain old Batman comics because The Dark Knight work was always… darker. Returns is absolutely no exception to this. The entire graphic novel is somewhat of a downer. Batman is old, he’s beat up, he’s alone (until Robin comes along) and he has no support. Even Alfred is more dickish than usual.

If there’s one thing I didn’t like (and this could simply be the way the graphic novel was consolidated, and not how it played it during the original comic run), it’s how Robin seemed to appear, be trained and bond with Batman in a matter of a few pages. The entire dynamic was incredibly rushed and underdeveloped.

But even with that niggle, The Dark Night Returns is everything Watchmen wasn’t. I’m not knocking Watchmen, as it obviously has its fans, but I believe Returns has a lot more character depth.

My friend gave me another one to read — the title escapes me — but no doubt I’ll dig it.


So the big movie right now (at least for comic book fans) is Watchmen, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Over at a forum I frequent, a vote was cast for a “book of the month” discussion and guess what won?

You got it.

I have mixed feelings about a graphic novel (basically, a big comic) as a book of the month discussion. I’m not adverse to reading them, I just don’t believe they have as much meat as a real book. No, scratch that, they don’t have as much meat as a real book. That’s not to say they aren’t enjoyable, or worthy of discussion, but if I’m going to discuss a book, I’d want to discuss a book. But since a vote was cast, and the yays had it, I went out and bought Watchmen.

What a waste of $20.


Watchmen is well written, for sure. And the art I can dig. Even the story is more than doable as it follows around a superhero outcast, Rorschach, as he tries to make sense of the brutal murder of The Comedian, another superhero killed in the first pages of the novel.

For all intents and purposes, Watchmen is a graphic novel I should like. With the exception of one character (Dr. Manhattan), none of the heroes in the book have superpowers. They are just strong, or athletic or whatever. Like Batman (hands down, my favorite hero) or The Punisher, they are just normal everyday folk — unlike that clown Superman, who is just lame. For the most part, any superhero with superpowers is lame, except those in Supreme Power.

In addition to the characters, the story is enough to interest me. It’s a mystery, plain and simple. I should be all over that.

But where it fails, and fails miserably, is the action — or lack of. Nothing ever happens! Okay, so that’s a mild exageration, but let’s face it; comics are a visual medium. No matter what spin is ever placed on it, at the end of the day a comic is visual.

Sure, there is a lot of subtext in Watchmen — the pirate story was pretty well done — and Rorschach is pretty bad ass (even with his annoying Hulk-like speech pattern), but the story really needs to be more interesting than it is in order to justify all the accolades the comic gets. Hell, The Walking Dead doesn’t have action every page, but it has one hell of a compelling story (although I will admit being biased, as I dig zombies more than tight wearing vigilantes).

Regardless of it all, I’ll still see the movie. I won’t rush out to the theaters, as I’m perfectly content on waiting for the DVD. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the movie, most importantly that the movie is more violent than the comic. That’s good for me. Also, I’m curious to see Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. He’s done a lot of movies since I first saw him, but he’ll always be Kelly Leak from The Bad News Bears.

Walking foward.

I read The Walking Dead this week, and I’m happy to say it’s back on track.After finishing the fourth graphic novel, I’m now all caught up and can read them as they come out each month.

The fourth graphic novel was a bit of a disappointment as it concentrated too much on silly love triangles, but, man, issue 25 got things right back on track with a great cliffhanger.

I love this comic.

Walking Dead #25

Closing it out.

I finished up the Ultimate Fantastic Four “Crossover” series and it wasn’t half bad.

It left a lot to be desired from me because it seemed to end to quick.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #23

The comic wasn’t enough for me to read more of the Fantastic Four, but it was a good diversion.

The art, though, was still damn good.

Ultimate goodness…

I may have mentioned it, but I’m not a fan of superhero comics. I used to buy Batman-Legends of the Dark Night, Daredevil and Spiderman back in the day, but now I just don’t get into them.

Granted, Supreme Powers rocked, and I can’t wait to finish it, but superhero comics are my last choice when I’m picking up a batch.

That said, my buddy Aric suggested Ultimate Fantastic Four #21 and #22 to me because he figured it would be right up my alley.

Normally, I would have declined, but Aric has made some solid, solid recomendations to me so I figured what the hell.




Once again he was right on the money. Where I would have never have thought to pick up a F4 comic (and I probably won’t again after this three run series), I am glad I read them.

Dark as shit and a very interesting story that has zombie-like superheros.


Fantastic 4 #22  Fantastic 4 #21

I finished Oogie Boogie Central

Deep in the DarknessBut I’ll post my thoughts later (they actually may be detailed and fluent!).

I grabbed Michael Laimo’s Deep in the Darkness. I have a funny story about Laimo, but I’m going to read this book before I post it.

I’ve read the first three chapters already and the story thus far is a a man moves his wife, kid and dog from the big city toKolchak - The Night Stalker the country where he will become the local doctor. Soon after arriving to his house, he is befriended by his neighbor and invited to eat lunch with him.

And the woods are creepy.

Sounds like the beginning of Pet Sematary, but I’m pretty sure it won’t go that way, and even if it does, I’ll still read it. I’ve read a short story or two of Laimo’s and I dig his style.
I also knocked out Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It was surprisingly ho-hum. Good art, good story, but missing something. Pretty blah.

The Walking Dead

Yeah, I should have been finished my book by now, but nope.

I read volume 2 of The Walking Dead trade paperback (or whatever the hell big books of comics are called).


Volume 1 was great, but volume 2 was amazing. While I’m not a big fan of black & white comics, the writing MORE than makes up for it.

The premise is easy enough, zombies have taken over and the remaining humans must survive.

This is easily one of the best horror comics I’ve read in a while.

Walking Dead Walking Dead - Volume 2

Quite simply, buy it if you like zombies.