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.