Thursday, April 16, 2009

Frank Miller is the worst, Part One

I'm taking a bit of time off from posting my own work to critique some comics I've been reading. I borrowed a friend's copy of All-Star Batman and Robin, and it is shamefully bad. It's almost an art form, how bad it is. Yet I continue reading to see how much worse it can get. It's a train wreck my eyes can't avoid. And the worst part about it is that it sold millions! Way more copies of a comic book than all of us combined will ever sell.

It also further demonstrates my ongoing theory that Frank Miller is one of the worst comic book writers of all time. (At least, within those that are highly regarded.)

I'm not sure what offends me most about the book. Is it the complete wrong characterization of Batman and Robin? (Why bother using the characters if they act nothing like them? Batman laughing maniacally? Beating kids? Mocking Superman?) Wrong characterization of everyone? The pervasive and casual misogyny? (Vicki Vale is just so excited to be on a date with Bruce Wayne! Wonder Woman, since she's a strong woman, obviously has to hate men.)

Not even.

It's the little things:

Horrible attempts to be hip

Did Robin actually say something 'blows chunks'? Um ... thanks, Wayne. I also like how the twelve-year-old's point of reference for 'tough guy voice' is Clint Eastwood.

That Batman does no detective work

He's the world's greatest detective! Do some snooping, take some fingerprints, use the computer, for God's sake. But no ... just relentless beatings.

The immense waste of time

Did I just read an entire issue detailing how Black Canary finally got fed up with the sexual harassment at her job and fought back? An entire issue? Any writer-illustrator team worth their salt could have told that tale in two pages, max. And I think it was the fifth issue and Batman and Robin were still flying around in that stupid car. Is there a story here?

There's just too much to criticize. Did anyone like this?


ADC said...

I haven't read the comic... or any new comics recently to be honest. But I get what you're saying. Frank Miller's work is full of Miller-isms, that people obviously hire him for, but are in no way shape or form appropriate for some of the books he writes. His ideas work well with some subject matter, but it appears as though he tries to put that stamp on everything he does.
While, Elektra Assasin is one of my favourite comics of all time, my enjoyment of Frank Miller begins and ends there.

Jason Loo said...

"I'm Goddamn Batman! - Batman
That there belongs in the Superdickery archive.

And why is Superman running across water? It's not like he's racing the Flash. He would go faster flying. Oh well, I guess whatever he's running to is not that important.

There's a whole issue about sexual harassment in the workplace? In a superhero comic? And in a comic that's not a Black Canary title? I wonder if this issue gets distributed around offices as an alternative behavior awareness tool.

I'm gonna have to re-read Batman Year One and see if the book was as good as I remembered it.

J.S. Kociuba said...

There a rumor that this series is suppose to lead into "Dark Knight Returns". (according to a interview with Jim Lee)

I love Batman Year One, that to me is the best revamp of a origin story. I'll give him that one.

Miller is a victim of his own ego. I hope The Spirit movie experience sobers him up.

Zen said...

At the risk of being an outcast, I disagree. I think Frank Miller has made a valuable impact in the world of comics, graphic art, and film.

Although I do agree that this "All Star" thing was unsettling in bringing bats into a strange place. Miller is famous for toying with the franchise, but this time around seemed less interesting or a half hearted attempt. I base that totally on the choices of how Miller "toyed" with a time tested character. Batman displayed a certain weakness in his character (mentioned in Evan's argument) that frayed the fiber of the brand. It felt reckless and determined to push limits in a shallow way.

I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of Batman, but I have read a fair bit of it, and I think there is a sort of responsibility to favor the brand especially since the Batman is so beloved. Taking the reigns of a popular time tested ANYTHING has a responsibility in my opinion, and he didn't even come close to honoring any of it. Especially compared to the older attempts. Miller continues to do what he wants, which is acceptable, but it would have been nice to see evidence of a second thought on this one.

Brian Hoang said...

i'd like to give a rebuttal to zen's comment. i do agree that you can take an established character and re-imagine them much in the way christopher nolan did with the batman begins and dark knight movies. but when it gets to a point where there is absolutely NO similarities between the established version and frank miller's vision other than appearance, then the character of batman becomes completely arbritrary. like evan said; why bother using the characters at all?

and another point evan brings up is that frank miller does NOT know how to pace this book! i can only take so many issues of batman yelling at robin while sitting in a car. the first 5 issues could've been done in a single 22 page book. now i'm just repeating what evan has already said but i think frank miller hit the right market with a few good books back in the 80's and now he's just taking everyone for a ride.

Tyrone said...

Wow ... I heard about this but to actually read it ... man ... it looks like he is mocking Batman ... something you would read in MAD or Cracked magazine ... What's Miller's thoughts on all this ... does he honestly believe that he didn't do anything wrong!?! Does anybody know?!