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Old December 4th, 2005   Infernorhythm is offline   #1
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Default The Miller Influence of Batman

Okay, I read DKR, and it was okay. Nothing groundbreaking or unique, just a bit bloodier. Yet everyone cites it as a major landmark in Batman's history. In my personal opinion, Miller's had a negative impact on Batman ever since DKR and Year One.

First off, the costume. I personally cannot stand the current costume. The ears are way too short, the grays and black are okay, but the way it's designed totally takes away the gothic and creepyness of the character. What ever happened to the classic desing Neal Adams and Jim Aparo thought up in the 70s? Long ears, swirling cloak, gothicy goodness. Now THAT was a Batman costume.

Then there's Batman's personality. Some people these days are always saying Batman's a paranoid jerk. Miller started that. Ever since DKR, Batman's been over analytical and has lacked personality. Where's the classic tormented soul of the Dennis O'Neil Batman, recently mastered in Batman Begins? I swear, the 70s was the Batman epitomy...

Lastly, Miller's hand in the violence. All-Star Batman is so not Batman. As Waid said in Kingdom Come "strip away all the extra parts of Batman and you get a man who doesn't want to see others die". Yet in All-Star Batman we've got him killing cops, laughing it off, and cussing to boot.

This is not my Batman. This is Miller's whacked out guy as Batman. Yeah, this is an angry rant, but jeez, I was raised on Batman: TAS. He's a gothic, creepy man with issues and a personality. I want my Batman back.

-Nicholas
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   superman1984 is offline   #2
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I have been wanting a Batman more like the 70's version for a long time...I am sure I will get flamed for agreeing with you...keeping in mind I did really like Year One....the other stuff....was ok...
 
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Old December 5th, 2005   capatom is offline   #3
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I have been wanting a Batman more like the 70's version for a long time...I am sure I will get flamed for agreeing with you...keeping in mind I did really like Year One....the other stuff....was ok...
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Old December 4th, 2005   CapeandCowl is offline   #4
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Okay, I read DKR, and it was okay. Nothing groundbreaking or unique, just a bit bloodier. Yet everyone cites it as a major landmark in Batman's history. In my personal opinion, Miller's had a negative impact on Batman ever since DKR and Year One.

First off, the costume. I personally cannot stand the current costume. The ears are way too short, the grays and black are okay, but the way it's designed totally takes away the gothic and creepyness of the character. What ever happened to the classic desing Neal Adams and Jim Aparo thought up in the 70s? Long ears, swirling cloak, gothicy goodness. Now THAT was a Batman costume.

Then there's Batman's personality. Some people these days are always saying Batman's a paranoid jerk. Miller started that. Ever since DKR, Batman's been over analytical and has lacked personality. Where's the classic tormented soul of the Dennis O'Neil Batman, recently mastered in Batman Begins? I swear, the 70s was the Batman epitomy...

Lastly, Miller's hand in the violence. All-Star Batman is so not Batman. As Waid said in Kingdom Come "strip away all the extra parts of Batman and you get a man who doesn't want to see others die". Yet in All-Star Batman we've got him killing cops, laughing it off, and cussing to boot.

This is not my Batman. This is Miller's whacked out guy as Batman. Yeah, this is an angry rant, but jeez, I was raised on Batman: TAS. He's a gothic, creepy man with issues and a personality. I want my Batman back.

-Nicholas
ddf
Infernorhythm

Ok, I think you need to take a breath bro. DKR was totally revolutionary and has had a HUGE influence on nearly every verison of Batman that followed it...including Batman TAS.

It is worth noting that Batman of the 1970s was a huge change (more of less) from what came in the 50s and especially the 60s...which was a campy, dorky Batman played for laughs. His villians were silly, his adventures were silly. Schwartz got rid of alot of that goofiness by dumping Batmans by then huge supporting cast of even dumber characters (a dog in an S&M mask, Batwoman and the equally vapid Batgirl -pre babs - Bat mite, etc. etc.) and then we got Adams and O'Neil who basicaly starting moving Batman back to something akin to what he was originally - a dark, forbidding, obessed crimefighter. The stories were darker and Adams ******* art made Batman actually look scary for the first time.

However, some of the tone of earlier years was still there. Not all the sillyness was gone, even if the stories were markedly better. Miller, in part, just took this progression even farther by basically saying, what would this kind of person really be like?

Miller's Batman decends right into the darkness Batman is supposed to exist it. The big difference is that often prior to DKR, writers TOLD us Batman was dark. You know, Wonder Woman or someone would quip something like "oh I can't stand they way Batman sneaks around all the time," or Jim Gordon would say "I will never totally get used to how mysterious Batman is." OF course, we never saw anything that resemebled Batman being mysterious. We were just told he was. Miller's Batman is dark. He is mysterious. He SHOWS us, he doesn't TELL us.

Secondly, the look in DKR in terms of the costume was NOT Miller's invention. Batman starts out with a pretty different suit that we see today. The ears were off to the sides, and swept back (the ears of the TAS suit are a bit a homage to this) and the cape is more like folded wings. He wore little gloves. Through most of the 50 and 60 and even into the 70s Batman's ears are short. Adams Batman with the longer, thinner ears was awesome, but it is by no means the only verison of the character. Adam west batman had short ears, but the Micheal Keaton verison did not. The BB verison is somewhere in the middle. But the varition in DKR is just that - a variation on several different styles that came before. It's the classic batsuit, plain and simple.

Now, is Miller's batman the same as the verison from the 70s or in conintuity today? Not at all, but you are not trying to read into what Miller's story is about. There is a great discussion in another thread here which points out that Miller's Batman is essentially a social revolutionary who wants to change society, by force if he must, in order to wipe out corruption and crime. The more common verision of Batman is more like a fire fighters, putting out the flames as they pop up, but essentially not changing the status quo.

And really, as much as Miller's stuff has influenced writers after him, so he is obivously influenced by O'Niel's stuff. Miller's Batman is harsher, more brutal and more pro-active compared with O'Niel's Batman who is more of a thinker and detective. But there are many, MANY points of contact between them that if you read both Miller and O'Neil you'd see. There likely would never have been a DKR without the deep body of work O'Neil did on Batman.

The great legacy of Miller's work is that it proved you could write a story about a dark, obessed and not even particularly likeable Batman and still write an amazing story. It also showed that Batman can be written dark, without the corny ball and the camp. He didn't have to be silly, even if the world Miller writes is over the top. It could be dark, in a way that even O'Neil didn't write.
Saddly, too many writers have tried to copy Miller without understanding what he was doing, resulting sometimes in inferior stuff because writers kind of wander half way between the current Batman and Miller's verisons.

Oh and a couple of things: Batman Begins is actually rooted more in Miller (year one) and the Long Halloween (loeb) than O'Niel's work. There is a TON of stuff in Begins taken right from Batman: Year One, so you might want to reconsider your criticizm there.

Also, Batman does not kill any cops of All Star. In issue two we find them alive but unconicous. he blows up their cars. Miller's use of violence is always and deliberately over the top. And I would suggest re-reading All Star so far, particularly issue #2, because if you read it you'll see there is more going on than the almost comical violence on the surface.

There is WAY more going on in DKR, in All Star and Year One than a guy who is violent and a "jerk". You just have to be willing to read it.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   CapeandCowl is offline   #5
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from wikipedia:
Upon its publication, The Dark Knight Returns turned the comic book industry on its ear. It helped to introduce an era of more adult-oriented storytelling to the mainstream world of superhero comic books, and it received media attention the likes of which had never seen before in a medium long believed to be little more than children's entertainment.

This story, along with Alan Moore's Watchmen (published in the same year) and Art Spiegelman's Maus, helped to raise the medium to a more mature level of literature, and it ushered in the popularity of graphic novels as a form of literature that truly differs from "child-oriented comic books." Critics have accused this story of giving birth to the era of "grim and gritty" comic books that lasted from the late 1980s through the early 1990s, when comic books took many adult-oriented themes (especially violence and sexual situations) to "the limits of decency." Although the Batman has rarely been as obsessive and powerful a figure as Miller depicts him here, The Dark Knight Returns was tremendously influential; since the work was originally published, Miller's portrayal of the character as a dark and compulsive figure has dominated most Batman projects to at least some degree.

Another innovation is the way in which the superheroes address one another by name (i.e. as "Bruce", "Clark" or "Oliver"). The U.S. officials always refer to Superman as "Kent". The name "Superman" is never even used in the story. The super-heroes look upon their relationship with humans as a "them" and "us" situation, and Batman is criticised for not realising "how they've changed"!

However, Miller's innovations were not solely limited to characterization. He adopted visual styles and "tricks" from noir novels and movies. These included dividing pages into many, many frames to give the impression of slow motion (possibly the best comic interpretation of Thomas and Martha Wayne's murders is achieved by this). Also, Miller contrasts many smaller frames against grand backdrops of Batman leaping or brooding over the cityscape; creates "montages" of fast-paced events through rapidly changing commentators, alternated with snippets of the actions being described; and builds suspense to the appearance of classic characters by hiding their actions and appearance in shadows (not just the first depiction of Batman, but Superman and Green Arrow as well). Numerous public figures were blatantly lampooned, including Ronald Reagan, Dr. Ruth, David Letterman, and the hosts of "Crossfire," all of which add to the suspense of disbelief that made the comic not realistic, but an example of the hyperrealism that would later reach its peak in Miller's "Sin City." While there is a generic and omniscient narrator, the most important narration comes from inside various character's heads: Batman, Jim Gordon, Robin, Catwoman, Alfred and even the Joker all are opened up to examination.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   Matches is offline   #6
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Miller isn't responsible for the way other people have poorly imitated his work. Miller re-defined Batman in a way that went *way* beyond surface elements like the costume. DKR is about a fundamental change in who Batman is; the violence is incidental.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   allanf is offline   #7
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Miller isn't responsible for the way other people have poorly imitated his work. Miller re-defined Batman in a way that went *way* beyond surface elements like the costume. DKR is about a fundamental change in who Batman is; the violence is incidental.
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Agreed. Miller's Batman was, despite my distaste for where it's lead the character, a landmark for the character, the company, and comics in general. It's the creative teams that followed that seemed to be unable to get out from Miller's shadow that I think infernorhythm REALLY has a beef with.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   Infernorhythm is offline   #8
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That's YOUR opinion. I simply want the return of a gothic, noir Batman, not a paranoid guy who lacks the creepy part.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   Lundonj is offline   #9
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That's YOUR opinion. I simply want the return of a gothic, noir Batman, not a paranoid guy who lacks the creepy part.
ddf
Infernorhythm
Well, not all opinions are created equal. These guys are quoting more than opinion, DKR is the best selling superhero graphic novel of all time (Watchmen could catch it over the long haul) -- because it was groundbreaking. It snapped an entire industry out of a long time slump, financially and creatively.

Love or hate DKR is totally cool with me either way, but the impact of the book, which is still being felt decades later is impressive.

Now, with that out of the way, I agree that Batman's deconstructionist take has become rather stale. I don't think he has to have a sidekick who says the word "Holy" all the time or crack jokes, but his interaction with the DCU has become one dimensional. He has become the Fox Mulder of the Universe and adopted the "trust no one" attitude for way too long now.

Batman is too smart to be a one note character. There are heroes and people worthy of trust and some not.

I don't like the long term character results of DKR for Batman as the brooding, look over his shoulder guy. He can be that way with the bad guys, that makes sense, but not his friends. And as Matches noted, all the weak attempts to recapture that DKR lightning in a bottle over and over again have not helped. However, it was a story that continues to draw a crowd because it took a harder, more serious look at what superhero fiction could be.

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Old December 4th, 2005   CapeandCowl is offline   #10
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That's YOUR opinion. I simply want the return of a gothic, noir Batman, not a paranoid guy who lacks the creepy part.
ddf
Infernorhythm
Perhaps you can explain what you think "gothic" is and what "noir" is beacuse nearly all of Miller's work on Batman has a HUGE noir influence on it. Miller goes whole hog into noir with Sin City, but his Batman stuff is probably the cloest Batman stories get to the classic noir, sam spade kind of story telling.

If by "noir" you mean detective mystery (which does not encompass the totality of noir fiction) then no, Miller's stuff so far has not been detective stories. But that isn't his aim either. What I am confused about with your desire for a "noir" Batman is your dismissal of Miller on the basis of his use of violence. One of the characteristics of noir fiction is a totally unsentamental, almost dissmissive portrayal of violence and sex. Violence in noir is often extreme, yet the characters are not often horrified by it because violence on that level is part of the world they live in. So really, I don't understand by what you mean by getting a more noir Batman because Miller is often as noir as you get in comics.

Whats more, Miller's Batman is immensely creepy, albeit in a different sense than many other intreptations. His Batman has all the stealth and intelligence of other verisons, but with an amped up intensity and he is driven by somewhat different goals than the more standard verison of the character.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   Infernorhythm is offline   #11
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I don't see how it was groundbreaking. So he was a bit more violent and less creepy. Yeah, so? Nothing overly interesting.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   allanf is offline   #12
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I don't see how it was groundbreaking. So he was a bit more violent and less creepy. Yeah, so? Nothing overly interesting.
ddf
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Well, it was the first time a narrative structure like that had been applied to Batman, with the interpolating tv screens and the kind of apocalyptic Eighties-pastiche. Batman hadn't dealt with the then-pressing political and geo-political aspects that overshadow the book. Look how prominent U.S./Soviet relations are in DKR, that sort of thing, more common today, wasn't addressed in mainstream books at the time, certainly not by any of DC's crown jewel characters. The violence and tone, while not usual for Batman at the time, isn't what people reacted to.

More important than all that, however, was it's mainstream success. The coverage in almost every major media outlet led to the greater public recognition of the more serious Batman, finally driving away Adam West's interpretation for good. DKR made it possible for the character to be taken seriously again in fields outside comics, and allowed comics to inch towards what mainstream success we see today. Without DKR, there wouldn't have been a Batman movie in '89, without which we would have never received the animated version, that you so rightly see as important.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't love DKR. I think it's vastly inferior to YEAR ONE, which is in itself flawed. I don't think DKR is the best Batman story. Heck, I don't think it makes the top ten. But to undercut it's importance is a disservice.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   CapeandCowl is offline   #13
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I don't see how it was groundbreaking. So he was a bit more violent and less creepy. Yeah, so? Nothing overly interesting.
ddf
Infernorhythm

Well I think you are missing alot in Miller's stuff then.

For one thing, Miller did what very very few comics writers had done at the time, which was to take the subject matter completely seriously. He kept all the crazy superhero stuff - the cave, the costume, the kid side kick - but framed it with an adult sensibilty - hence the heavy noir style, the political overlay to the stories, the retired Bruce Wayne's descent into self destructive behavior before finally allowing "Batman" to completel overtake his "Bruce Wayne" persona he used in public for years....

Whether one prefers DKR Batman to another verison is one thing. To say there is nothing interesting in one of comics most seminal works is little strange.
 
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Old December 4th, 2005   Lundonj is offline   #14
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I don't see how it was groundbreaking. So he was a bit more violent and less creepy. Yeah, so? Nothing overly interesting.
ddf
Infernorhythm

I think you mentioned being a writer, or wanting to write. If that is the case, DKR is a really good story to analyze, whether or not you liked it. Based on your feedback so far, you seem to be glossing over a lot of material into one or two lines.

A corporate Superman hadn't ever been addressed in detail before, as a foil for a system gone wrong. In addition to Kal vastly undersestimating Bruce as a potential foe, it was really the first time such a stark contrast had been explored between the two characters. And, it was classic underdog, against all odds kind of stuff, set in an interesting potential future timeline. Batman has always been plenty violent, I don't think DKR pushed the envelope on violence, the story did make the stakes higher for that fight...which is nearly impossible in regular ongoing series. The darker future and the resolve to face it is the ongoing influence felt today.

As I said before though, it seems like 99 percent of Batman's existence since then has been dedicated to the "threat" of an evil Superman/JLA. That has created the void between supposed allies that some DC readers are tired of outside of the Batbooks.

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Old December 5th, 2005   Matches is offline   #15
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I don't see how it was groundbreaking. So he was a bit more violent and less creepy. Yeah, so? Nothing overly interesting.
ddf
Infernorhythm
Respectfully, if that's all you got out of it, you missed the point of the story.

DKR is about Batman coming full circle and re-discovering who he is. It's about him realizing that he has become part of the establishment that has no place for him. It's about him re-inventing himself as an anti-establishment figure, much like he was at the beginning of his career. It's a fundamental change in his mindset that goes *way* beyond how hard he hits people.

And again, not to pick on your age, frankly we need *more* young fans in this industry, but it's really hard to assess whether something was groundbreaking if you read it *after* twenty years of (mostly bad) attempts to imitate it. Of course it's not going to seem groundbreaking if you've read fifteen years of stories that attempt to be just like it.
 
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Old December 5th, 2005   CapeandCowl is offline   #16
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Respectfully, if that's all you got out of it, you missed the point of the story.

DKR is about Batman coming full circle and re-discovering who he is. It's about him realizing that he has become part of the establishment that has no place for him. It's about him re-inventing himself as an anti-establishment figure, much like he was at the beginning of his career. It's a fundamental change in his mindset that goes *way* beyond how hard he hits people.

And again, not to pick on your age, frankly we need *more* young fans in this industry, but it's really hard to assess whether something was groundbreaking if you read it *after* twenty years of (mostly bad) attempts to imitate it. Of course it's not going to seem groundbreaking if you've read fifteen years of stories that attempt to be just like it.
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Matches M. Malone
Yeah, although even today if you approach DKR with an open mind it's still freakin amazing. But it's only natural that it does not seem so revolutionary now decades after the fact which, as you say, filled with less successful attempts to ape Miller's work.

Sometimes I think we need another writer to set the tone for Batman for the next decade they way Miller did. I love DKR and I am really digging All Star B&R, but that is Miller exploring his verison of Batman.

I know Waid et al are saying they are going to "fix" Batman (which I think is either a poor choice of words, or a misguided attempt to fix what ain't broke) but without another work of the influence of DKR, I doubt it will stick.

DKR and Year One created a vision of Batman that is very compelling to both readers and writers. Even in a story like Hush - which take a more common place view of Batman as crimefighter - you can feel Miller's influence.

So any effort to make Batman "nicer" I don't think will really work because while the current crop of DC writers are often criticized for be silver age groupies, they are all of the generation of writers who were heavily influenced by Miller.

You know, I think this is why stories like JLA: Soul War - where Batman has a sudden epiphany and wants to go help his buddy Hal Jordan - rang so false with readers. That isn't Batman. (Interestingly, Johns Batman in Rebirth explored the same terrority. There Bats was willing to let his issues with Hal drop for the time being. But the tension remained and so made complete sense to readers.) Englenhart's Dark Dective sequel got only a luke warm reception, in part I think because the idea of a Batman who operates in day time and gets the key to the city, etc, doesn't ring true with readers.

Miller's influence is so prevasive that attempts to make Batman "nicer" often don't stick despite attempts to send him in a new direction at the end of Knightfall, No Man's Land and Fugative. Interestingly, the direction taken after War Crime works - but it is simply another variasion of the Miller influnced take on the character.

Anyway, this is a really jumbled way of saying that the influence of DKR and Year One is so prevasive that it is going to another writer to create as compelling a vision of Batman as Miller did. Until that happens, whatever changes to the character DC makes won't stick.
 
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