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Liz's Amazon Wishlist... a must visit!! Even if just to see her strange tastes...

February 14th, 2006

09:39 pm - HOLY BATSHIT!!! That Frank Miller dreckfink is at it again!!!



Just look at what was in the New York Post as of today!!



February 14, 2006 -- Batman will use his extensive knowledge of caves to go after a new villain — Osama bin Laden.


DC Comics' famed Caped Crusader will turn his focus from clowns like the Joker to face off against chillingly real al Qaeda thugs in an upcoming graphic novel called "Holy Terror, Batman!"

"It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a piece of propaganda," legendary Batman writer Frank Miller said of his latest project. "Batman kicks al Qaeda's ass."

Miller called the comic "an explosion from my gut reaction of what'shappening now" and "a reminder to people who seem to have forgotten who we're up against."

In the comic, the Dark Knight's hometown of Gotham City is attacked by terrorists, and Batman sets out to settle the score.

"It just seems silly to chase around the Riddler when you've got al Qaeda out there," he said, adding that there's plenty of historical precedent for comic-book icons taking on real-life villains.

"Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That's one of the things they're there for," Miller said during a panel discussion at a comic-book convention in San Francisco last weekend.

His comments were posted on the Internet by the entertainment site IGN.com.

A spokesman for DC Comics declined to comment. The unfinished project does not yet have a scheduled publication date, and it is unlikely to see print this year.

An industry source said it could be even longer before the graphic novel sees the light of day, because of Miller's hectic schedule. Miller said he has finished 120 pages of the 200-page book, but he's currently writing a monthly Batman comic, and three of his previous comic-book projects are currently heading to the silver screen, including the sequel to his hit comic and movie "Sin City."

Miller's take on an aged Batman coming out of retirement in the "Dark Knight Returns" is widely credited with reinvigorating the comic-book industry in the 1980s, and parts of his story "Batman: Year One" were incorporated into the smash "Batman Begins."



Mmm... very realistic, isn't it?  Frank Miller has such an excellent grasp on reality.  1)  Al Quaeda is a real threat, worse than global warming or our own governments, which Frank Miller at this stage in his life makes not a peep about... oh, really, Frank??  2)  Sending Batman after these Ay-rabs is the way to tackle them.  (Hey, I thought Jim Starlin already did that back in 1988, in "A Death in the Family".... didn't have much success, did he, back then??  I mean Batman: I am not at all responsible for who decides to read these abysmal modern comic strip stories, just for the gimmicks!)

If it hadn't appeared in a newspaper I have heard of: and if I hadn't been referred by Arianna Huffington's site (and you should see what I commented on there!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/02/14/batman-creator-its-time_n_15664.html),  via http://www.alternet.org, as well - I simply wouldn't have believed it.  I would have thought it was an April Fool.  From the title alone!

It is a bit suspect, however!  As I have said, as I know it's not from a "spoof tabloid"...well, it's either true, or it's misinformation!  Probably Frank Miller is being his usual stupid self, and this time it has made him unwittingly "camp".  Holy Terror Batman, my arse!  It might do as a working title.  If he called it just "Holy Terror"...OR, as is the usual format of these graphic novel titles: "Batman: Holy Terror"... (I mean, have you, any comic book fans who visit my site, ever seen a modern comic book with an exclamation point in the title?) rather than "holy terror Batman!" he might, MIGHT, get away with this with the critics... they'd probably let him off by saying he was being "ironic"... it's their usual excuse for rubbish!!

(OMG I just have to tell my friend John (commonplacebook) about this!  I hope he's not too busy!)

Hey.  I bet the journalist on the original article reversed the word order in the title deliberately, because he thought it'd be more funny.  And because he thought quite shrewdly, that that way round, it would still have more "resonance" with the general public, because they'd remember the 60s version... which gives the lie to your theory, Maurice!

Anyway, I'd better not give the Millerscum ideas.

Frank Miller is a Big Fat Idiot.  That should be Al Franken's next book.  Maybe I should suggest it to him.

Anyway - believe me - the comic in the above news article is all that America, and the comics world, doesn't need.

I bet everybody in the Arab world hates it; and if it is published, it will cause a similar storm to the current cartoon fiasco.  (People in Arabic countries such as Syria hated DC's previous foray into "real-world" geopolitics, A Death in the Family, as well: I read it on certain reviews of this on Amazon.)

And back then, things weren't nearly such a tinderbox, as they are now... so...  hmm.. yes, really, I think DC Comics will be making a big mistake by the publication of such nonsense!  A guy on the huffiingtonpost site has already suggested that Frank Miller is angling for neocon financing!!

Anyway, bet Batman couldn't really catch Osama, for all his skill.  (But if he found him, he'd either find a grave, or a guy on a dialysis machine, as others on huffington have already pointed out!)  

Anyway.  It wouldn't make for a very good fight.  Stick to those that love you, Batsy.  Like me.  Like the Joker.  Et al.

(51 comments | Leave a comment)

03:38 pm - To continue the comic books/religion/philosophy theme...

.... as everything is interlinked, you see... it certainly is in my mind!!

Symbolic meaning in native mythology for the Bat

I've just found, quite by random serendipity, by clicking on a "psychic's link" on the Google ads at paranormal.about.com, an  interesting interpretation of the "totem animal" of the bat (doubtless useful for dream interpretation), at the following site: http://www.whisperingspirits.co.uk/site/1/totem_animals.html

Taken from Native American mythology!!

Just look at what it has to say about the bat!  I daresay Batman would rather like it!

"Death and rebirth on personal, spiritual level".  Hmm.  I suppose they thought the "death and rebirth" bit because it lives in caves, which is rather like a womb... it goes into the cave during the day and sleeps - comes out again at night!  "Dying" and being reborn every day, or rather night, of its life!

(Batman was too, but only on a spiritual level, just as it stipulates here, because his experience with bats changed him, as did his - other - early experience!)

(Oh, and I know that in one of the Central American mythologies, I think it is Aztec, they have a god of the underworld in bat form.)

Well, if one is at ALL interested in symbolism, one has to keep up with these things!

Now me, personally, I'm fascinated by them.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

February 13th, 2006

02:29 pm - The Dark Knight Returns discussion continues.... onto Lunar Batman!

(Or should we make it: The Dark MoonBat Returns??)


Heh heh!


Liz said...

Hey Maurice: I know that you have taken, of late, to ignoring me: partly, I assume, because my points are a) so irrefutably good! and b) because you are miffed that not many other people are stopping by to discuss comics with you.

Well... why don't you come onto my blog, then?? Address at above link! (I know you never have, I don't think you have... but Mark did and you might try it, just for a change! Make some points to me out of the bright glare of Christian publicity!)

Why not?? Sounds good to me!

Anyway, I've thought of a whole other topic to do with Batman... and doubtless you will agree with part of it, but will not like my interpretation: for the conclusion I come to is utterly mine and anti-patriarchy!!

Now: What about, the COSMOLOGICAL attributes of the DC superheroes??? (You know, like there is this whole theory, that many ancient historians like, that mythological characters are actually describing or linked to cosmological events?)

Well. Why not apply this to Superman and Batman - for example? (New topic - just like I promised.) I believe that on another post you have already identified Superman as a "solar" character: a representative of the Sun/Son - for you also compare him to Christ. Well, fair enough. It's a fair comparison: he comes down to earth as a lowly stranger, and so on, does the Man of Steel.

We can tie it into Miller's work (bleuch!) by observing, as you say in the above article, that Miller makes quite a big thing, about how Superman derives his power from the sun! According to Miller he does, anyway!! I am just wondering whether he is not making too big a thing of this - for I don't remember anything from the old comics that said that Supie derived his powers directly from the sun... they were *inborn* in him, weren't they? And only Kryptonite could take them away?! Miller makes all this thing, you see... well at least you mention it above and I seem to remember it, that when the "nuclear winter" comes down over Gotham, Superman loses his powers for a while. Hmm. Actually, when I first read it, I thought it was because of the nuclear blast itself. I'm not sure. But anyway - if he *was* "solar-powered", as 'twere... this is another of my quibbles with Miller's ideas - how then could he fly all the way around the globe, as he did in both comics and that classic movie? He couldn't do that, if once he got on the far side of the earth, he would lose all his powers, because he couldn't feel the sun! And what about at night on earth... pah - no, that's not right! Miller, full of it, again!! I prove it!

I think it's a bit more *metaphorical* than that. Miller always was a literalist. But yes, I do believe that Superman is a "solar deity".

Now. That brings us on to Batman. He's definitely not solar. He can't be... liking the shadows as he does! And therefore, I don't think that he plays the "Christ" role as neatly as you suggest, above... no... not in that same, sun-god sense!!

But, so what does that make our caped crusader?? The Devil?? No no, and this is where, Christians, your kind of analogies fall down! No no no... If Superman is solar, his twin is what... shall I suggest its cosmological opposite?

If you LOOK at the DC pantheon of Superheroes, well, it has been headed from its inception by Superman, and Batman, hasn't it??? Superman came first, as befits him - for he is a solar symbol... which symbolism people like Frank Miller, of all people, seem to have clocked... only they misinterpret it, over do it.... Superman is NOT paralysed during the night, though his favourite time of operation is the day. He's a very "open" kind of superhero, as they go: he wears no mask, not much of a disguise... Whereas Batman.. you know what I'm going to say, don't you... HE is LUNAR!! He *prefers* the night, though he CAN operate during the day. But he loves shadows and disguise and subterfuge... therefore he does not resemble the bright, open sun, but the mysterious moon.... He is the Yin as opposed to Superman's Yang... er, a masculine kind of Yin, that is!! They are DC's mythological, even cosmological, twins, Solar, and Lunar... it should be pretty obvious to anyone who's studied mythology, symbols, the occult.. though I've NEVER yet encountered it written down anywhere... oh well.. I can be the first, then!

Yes. And that leads me to the end of my conclusion. Batman is Lunar: therefore he belongs to women, and ESPECIALLY to witches: because witches work by the power of the moon. I do myself, when I get around to doing any ritual!! Ceremonial magicians and that "chaos" lot you meet don't really seem to care about the moon, but for witches it is No. 1.

Therefore, Batman, being a lunar deity, belongs to us. Women and witches. More than to any male. Case closed. Batman's mine! F.M. sucks!! (Because he fails to get any of that lunar romance into his character!)


3:03 PM

Liz said...
And thus is the Batman himself an embodiment (in a male way) of the Divine Feminine....

(Definitely not a Frank Miller thing.)

3:06 PM

 Maurice Broaddus said...
"I know that you have taken, of late, to ignoring me: partly, I assume, because my points are a) so irrefutably good! and b) because you are miffed that not many other people are stopping by to discuss comics with you."

there is an "or": 1) i am really busy right now or 2) you make so many points in the course of one posting that one does not know where to begin without being reduced to writing an essay in response. which brings me back to "i am really busy right now".

on the plus side, hollywood jesus has brought back the forums, so you can interact with all of the reviewers at once.

plus, the time and energy it would take to craft an essay in response to you, i could put into another review on a related comic.

3:40 PM

Liz said...

Ah! Hello, Maurice!! Nice to see you!! (HA! HA!)

Yes, of course I knew there were other possibilities, to the "alternatives" I so cheekily suggested!! (I was just tweaking your tail: it *is* in my nature... if you truly understood Tricksters, you'd understand!)

It truly is a part of my nature and there is NOTHING I can do about it. I do wish you'd understand! I sort of try to understand YOU... Nice to know you're alive, though... and busy. (I suppose that means having success, in your case?)

So... would you need to "craft" a response?? Couldn't you just say something, like in response to my solar/lunar idea?? (I'm just a fount of ideas, me!) That was actually quite a good one, I think. Naturally, I am claiming Batman for the Divine Feminine: I feel I have every right to! I use my intellectual powers to stake my claims, always! (Anyway, I always felt there was something feminine or nurturing about him, as well as all the macho stuff: it's that cloak, it's very rounded in shape, and he can shelter people beneath it... it always seemed very "enveloping" to me. Miller would not see that. He is only interested in macho cliches!)

Hey - pity we can't IM each other (how does one use IM, I've never done it!) or send each other personal messages on this site. Why don't you visit me on mine, though? As I say, it's not *nearly* as professional as this one - so you don't have to worry about crafting stuff to make it look professional!

HJ Forums... where and on what??

Yes - you *could* review a related comic! How about AA and KJ... I thought you'd finished your reviews on those months ago, and didn't put them up, just to spite me! Ha!

12:28 AM

 Maurice Broaddus said...
nope. i've had stories due in to editors (3 in the last month) plus maintain my own blog outside of this one.

i still plan on reviewing arkham asylum and watchmen. i'm looking forward to doing a movie review of v for vendetta (alan moore vs. fascist britain).

go to the new and improved main hollywood jesus page. a link to the forums is right along the top.

(41 comments | Leave a comment)

02:03 pm - Now for a more current-affairs-related post....

Not everybody who compares themselves to Jesus is worthy of the comparison!!


Look at this little article, which I found on Reuters today: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/12022006/80-132/berlusconi-compares-himself-jesus-christ.html

Now let's have a look at the full text:

Berlusconi compares himself to Jesus Christ

Reuters Sunday February 12, 05:46 PM

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ROME (Reuters) - First it was Napoleon. Now it is Jesus Christ.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Belusconi has compared himself to both, prompting the open scorn of his political opponents and even the quietly raised eyebrows of his coalition partners.

"I am the Jesus Christ of politics," Italian media quoted him as saying at a dinner with supporters on Saturday night. "I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."

Giuseppe Giulietti, a leftist parliamentarian, joked that he was sure that "God the Father and the rest of Jesus' family did not take this very well".

Marco Rizzo, a communist parliamentarian, called it a "grotesque comparison".

Pierferdinando Casini, a sometimes uneasy Berlusconi ally and outgoing speaker of parliament, distanced himself.

"I live on Earth. I don't want to mix foolish things with serious things," the Ansa news agency quoted him as saying when asked about Berlusconi's Christ comments.

On Friday, Berlusconi compared himself to Napoleon, saying only the French emperor had done more for his country.

Berlusconi will be competing against centre-left opposition leader Romano Prodi in the April 9-10 general elections.


Out-flaming-rageous.  And that's why not everybody "comparing" himself to Jesus, or certain people/characters to Jesus, should be believed or taken seriously!  Hitler sometimes thought he was Jesus, you know?


(Relating it to our previous comic book discussions, I am certain that Frank Miller would like to think that he or his Batman are some kind of saviour, too - true.  This is probably why he uses the "religious" imagery such as rain = baptism... thank you, Maurice Broaddus, for pointing that out!)


But Miller and his "hero" are  wrong.  Just as deluded as Berlusconi. For evil and self-servingness and white male prejudice can never = a saviour of mankind!

(Leave a comment)

February 5th, 2006

11:27 am - Tim LaHaye sucks...



("Entire Posterior" it should be renamed!!   That's a pun, dears.)

Read this if you don't believe me, folks.



Yes, Joe Bageant is right.  If a Muslim wrote a similar book but with an Islamic theme - something about all the "infidels" getting cut down at the day of judgement and being sent to hell - he would be in very hot water all over the world, with all non-Muslims and the entire West.

What's sauce for the goose....

(1 comment | Leave a comment)

February 3rd, 2006

06:27 am - The Frank Miller/DKR/comics discussion thus far...
socialist liz said...

And here, my friend, is a CONCRETE EXAMPLE of some of the f'n fascism extant RIGHT NOW in the US of A: I got it off a law-and-prisons related website:


See! See!! The USA has become a POLICE STATE, over the past 10-20 years, with hardly anyone sitting up and taking notice! (It's not even that bad in Britain yet: despite Blair's ever-increasing megalomania...)

But you lot in the US, you've just sat back and passively believed all the BS you've been fed by your politicians and Limbaugh-style "opinion-formers"!

WAKE UP! Or one day it'll be you in jail and innocent and without legal recourse.

Oh - and of course, in a police state run by fascists, there would of COURSE be no room for "superheroes", "volunteers", benevolent "vigilantes" or knight-errants. A few years ago there was a series of graphic novels involving a crossover between Batman and Judge Dredd, and they made that point well enough - the Judge HATED the Bat, though he ended up grudgingly working with him in the end. The writers, of course, took their usual "let's-drool-over-the-fascist" stance! ('Cept Alan Grant, in "Judgement in Gotham" did one good thing, and that was to have Bats give Dredd a resounding punch in the mouth!! But then he spoiled it in later comics by making the Joker want to go over to their dimension and team up with the Death Judges. No he bl**dy well wouldn't! I've always thought that if Dredd did come over with a dimension belt to Gotham and started annoying the costumed criminals, they'd HAVE him! I tell you what Joker would do: I've got an adult novel and a half for you! He would, by himself or in conjunction with his peers, knock Dredd out, drag him back to Arkham, and bribe some thugs to smuggle him into the cell of the worst, biggest, most retarded sex offender he could find... who would then proceed to "turn the Judge out", as I do believe it is called!

THAT's what would happen!)

Well that's what *I'd* do.

2:28 AM  
liz said...

(I always like to do my worst! Heh!)

3:19 AM  
Reviews by Mark Stokes said...


As always, you've got some intelligent, well-thought-out ideas. I think the reason it's working more as a monologue, though, is that you're going from issue to issue within the same post (or "manifesto," as we so lovingly like to call it). We wouldn't possibly be able to respond to your posts fully, because we'd have to break it down into 20 different answers, which wouldn't give the discussion we need on the particular movie or graphic novel Maurice is reviewing. The result? No one wins.

What if we stuck with brief, topical questions on this blog so we wouldn't feel so overwhelmed and you'd feel like you've gotten a complete answer.

Perhaps you could give us a link to your blog so we could discuss government, Bush, neo-paganism and the whole gamut of interesting-though-not-particularly-relevent-in-this-specific-case topics.

I'll make a point to visit your blog regularly and throw in my insignificant two cents if you're worried about a lack of readership.

Thanks for thinking critically and seeking truth. Those abilities are two of God's greatest gifts.

8:31 AM  
socialist liz said...

Oh, Mark.... how sweet!

Thank you for thanking me for thinking critically.

Sigh... yes, I suppose you're right! All this really belongs on my blog: I should update it, paste it all in there, I have a copy of it on my computer so that I can do just that...

(I was sulking a bit with Maurice because he wouldn't let me post on his board any more - and believe me, it WASN'T because of long posts! Have you ever posted on his board?)

But, you see, he knew, he KNEW that a subject like this would draw me out into the open again... hammering Frank Miller is like this irresistible magnet to me! So: he knew the consequences when he finally put the essay up there.

True. You'd have to break it down into 20 different answers. But you could do like a childhood friend of mine always did with long letters, and just pick a bit or two out.

I was sort of trying to stay DKR-oriented... Perhaps I should GIVE IN, be a little charitable, and say that in many ways it was a VALIANT EXPERIMENT, sort of like "the first of its kind", but in many ways in the wrong way - and I don't think it should have been released to the public without changes. O'Neil should have put his foot down. Dennis O'Neil is, or was, after all, a liberal.

I'm really waiting for Maurice to say something. I know he usually says something in the end, but it takes a long time, because he is of the phlegmatic temperament. Kevin is sanguine. (I am choleric, with a touch of all the other three, sanguine uppermost! Though M. would say it is bile!) I can analyse all my friends in terms of the "four humours".

Then I got mildly nervous because I thought he would get into a fit about me saying "what I would do if I were the Joker", to a fascist character in an adult comic! (It wouldn't be pretty as I have said!)

I think that some of my fantasies are that bit too honest for HJ!! (But not all US sites are bland, most of the liberal political ones seem to be full of people with tempers at the moment!)

You can't delete your own posts on here.

Still, Mark... while we wait around for Maurice and Kevin: I am sure they are going to say something sometime... you know, I thought actually that going on about other related comics was sort of OK: because I thought that "once one gets hold of a comic geek" - like you or Maurice, a real fan of the medium, all they want to do is talk about what the characters would or wouldn't do?? No? Or am I wrong?? (I admit I really don't know very many of such fans!) I thought it was like computer games fans, or like discussions of "who would beat who"... well, actually, that's a bit low-level for me!! But you know what I mean. Not Freddy vs. Jason, but taking discourse on comics to a new yet still enthusiastic level. (Even if I spend my time saying I hate DC! Well it's true.. they should buck up and stop publishing certain satanic authors all the time, is what!)

Oh and Maurice, FYI, I don't think that Frank Miller really succeeded in changing the Batman "image" at all, with the greater public; he just seeded some unhelpful ideas which couldn't but affect later comics. But it was the movies that did what you are saying. Blame Tim Burton or give him kudos.

How many people does anybody on here know who has READ "The Dark Knight Returns", anyway... all the way through?? The funny thing was, that nobody at my university I knew was enthusiastic about it, or even noticed it (even though there was in fact a comics shop nearby - a very poorly-stocked one I must add, in a dilapidated building, run by a man who looked like a drug addict); and I did show it, in about late 1987, to two close friends of mine - one a lad in his late teens who was a science fiction and fantasy buff, the other a sophisticated London woman in her late forties... the kind of person who goes to see the latest plays... and neither of them wanted to read it, or were impressed by it on flipping through! Just had to say that somewhere. It was NOT the "in thing" among my peer group or, seeing as at that age I tended to seek counsel, anyone who I thought of as an "authority", even on matters trendy. (I heard it being discussed at a MENSA gathering in London once, too - but in a flippant rather than a "fan" way.)

(I think that perhaps it impressed a lot of Americans more than it did us skeptical British folk, though a couple of Fleet Street posh papers had something fairly complimentary to say about it.)

Well, I seem to have said my piece on that!

12:16 AM  

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

February 1st, 2006

06:18 am - Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns", review discussions continued further
11:38 AM  
Maurice Broaddus said...

i remove posts that are too long. i'm interested in converasations, not manifestos.

12:32 PM  
socialist liz said...

1) You and your pals tend to remove things at whim.

2) For "conversations", we need "conversees". We need a bunch of people having a discussion. (For some reason, this is ALWAYS easier on message boards than on blogs - you should see imdb.com! But then again, there are some bigger idiots on there, than I have ever met on HJ. (One for example was a man who said he liked Jello Biafra, yet was a supporter of a) Bush b) Bush's war c) Joe McCarthy!))

Neah, you're all right. (All you on here.) But maybe Christian means "vicar's sewing circle", because I have noticed a reluctance (overpolite?) to get into debate - proper debate, with people taking different positions.... you must have done it at school!

Come on people, join in! If you don't like what I say, knock it down! With words.

3) In order to get beyond shallowness (which I notice you seem to have a problem with on your own board, Maurice: never with the things you write personally, but with the level of debate you "allow")... there has to be a level of discussion and repartee that gets more deeply into things than little 2 or 3-line repartees will allow. (I'll let you off, since you write the reviews at the top of the whole thing, and they are generally quite long, considered, etc.)

Kevin, someone, help me out!!!!

(Oh. And I don't see why it's such a "manifesto", to for example, point out the anti-feminist and anti-gay leanings and messages of Frank Miller... and so it's not a "manifesto" to write a review comparing Miller's Batman to Jesus Christ?)


3:29 PM  
socialist liz said...
However, ironically, the Joker was still playing the “old game” by the “old rules”, a villain out of step with the times; almost more interested in wanting to re-live old times than anything else.

Yeah - Mr J, for all his destructive ways, is, like me, a traditionalist!! (And we're proud of it! Even if it means being "out of step!")

Anyway, who MADE the "new rules" - and why should Mr J take them on board?? He probably had a hard enough time the first time around, finding a set of criminal rules he liked - but obviously he did!! So... once you feel comfortable, why change?? Just because some idiot thinks you should kill a few more people unaccountably?

What's not broke, don't fix. What is - destroy!

Of COURSE he wants to play "the old game by the old rules", Maurice. Game-playing is ever his delight. And there is only one reason Joker can't do it here: it is BECAUSE Frank Miller suggests (because obviously he has already cooked up the idea, alone or along with pals of his SUCH AS Alan Moore and Jim Starlin) that the Joker had, *previous to the action of DKR*, it was only vaguely hinted at then - *done something so terrible and personal to the Batman that it can no longer be forgiven by him*, ie "and now it's personal"... as the movies in the 80s used to say!! Only this is only HINTED at in Frank Miller's work, in a very kind of... I don't know, it lacks honesty anyway. And transparency. I mean, if he had WANTED to say that "The Joker has gotten worse and transformed from Trickster villain into an utter cross between Charles Manson and Hannibal Lecter"... he should have said so! But he never does in the novel; he makes out almost as if the Joker had always been like that in the old comics. Which is a lie; so it is NOT "sticking to the essence of the original" at all. CON-ic, I have always said, rather than com-ic!! That's what I think of practically all modern comics. I hate 'em. (Most of the Batman ones.)

Anyway: we could SEE that something had gone wrong, because of the absence of certain key characters, and the hints at the "fate" of Jason Todd, Robin no. 2. This was all borne out within a couple of years by a couple of revolting works by the aforementioned Moore and Starlin, one crippling off Barbara Gordon, the next - following right on its heels - gruesomely killing Jason. And yet they made out that the latter occurrence, in particular, was due to other reasons ("the readers not liking the character", etc), and that in the end it was they that had the "final decision", when how COULD it have been if their new Venerable Bede, Frank Miller, had already laid down the sticky end of Jason as gospel truth?! Setup!

Readers' polls my ass!! Hey Yanks.. ha ha ha... I can think of other elections which have been rigged! (OH HOW THE JOKER WOULD LAUGH AT THAT PARALLEL!)

DC management are not to be trusted. They are evil. Their "top" writers are corrupt and hypocritical. And you're all hacks really, guys. I hate you. (Ihatefrankmiller.com would be a more likely website title for me!!)

The fact IS, that the Joker truly has a lot more common SENSE than that which Frank suggests. He would never do anything that would ensure his demise at the Batman's hands. He just gets a kick out of annoying the guy... now you know why we are so close, Maurice!! OH yes!

Really J'd like to annoy the tights off the Batman until they are both so old and grey that they can no longer move out of their wheelchairs.

THAT is the Joker's idea of bliss.

And it's the fact that the modern writers really don't know the villains that causes the artistic failure of most of what they write.

I should know! I'm a villain, too. (That for these purposes means someone who is out of step with the current society and actually rejects so many of its - ahem - "values".)

In these “end times”, superheroes were essentially outlawed, not permitted to operate without license. License that Superman has and Batman does not.

The above paragraph by you points up what, now that I come to think of it, possibly the only "pertinent" element in the entire book - ie, it contains no real social criticism (it seems to be, as I have remarked, mostly a tirade against women, transsexuals, greenhaired gays, and youth "punk" gangs!)

BUT - what I was going to say - is that it points out that in a "modern" or "post-post-modern" or WTF society you want to call it like us - a highly technological one anyway - everything has become so tightly controlled that *any* individualism, even "volunteerism" (in the old liberal sense - always told you original superheroes were better described as liberals than "vigilantes"!) is tightly controlled or proscribed... Miller says that Superman would be allowed to continue because he "agrees to play by the rules" (Ah, but WOULD he?? If he decided, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT THE AMERICAN GOVT. HAD BECOME FASCIST?!?! *I'd like to see a story exploring that!* I don't think any benevolent alien would team up with a government like THAT.) And, equally, in the modern world, Batman, because he is more the individualist (true, TRUE, I think... never let me say that Frank Miller hits *nothing* on the head melads, he *did* pinpoint the sexuality of the Joker accurately (except for the killing as sex bit IMO!) at a time when no-one before had OVERTLY gone into it, in a story!)

Batman as the individualist is denied his superhero "license".

Well I wouldn't put that past the current Bush government, certainly. Their FEMA wouldn't even let volunteer helpers or the Red Cross go inside the Katrina disaster zone to help. The US govt. is a collection of pompous evil bureaucrats, now more than ever - and the time they get kicked out - en masse - will be the time to rejoice.

So ol' Millerboy isn't 100% off in everything. But still... the answer to all these problems isn't to go off doing survivalism in the woods, is it?? (A typical 80s fallacy!) I think he's been reading too many tracts by, er-hem, Kurt Saxon, and the usual "Aryan" suspects...

As a socialist I can however only describe Frank Miller's ideology, if he has one, as "politically confused".
1:16 AM  
socialist liz said...

Just a couple of extra remarks, while we still wait for Kevin to join the discussion... I'm sure that he will be along SOMETIME.

1) I've always thought that Batman, being so rich - if he found himself in utter disagreement with the political climate of the day, (its venality especially, no doubt) he could use his fabulous wealth to fight it, and to set it off kilter, certainly. Like a sort of billionaire philanthropist, which he is. George Soros. Ralph Nader. (Though I think the latter is only a millionaire, I have seen Batman compared to Nader before now - or was it the other way?)

That would be better than faking your own death and running away from civilization, eh, though, Maurice??

"Be ye wise as doves and cunning as serpents". That's always been one of my favourite Bible verses!!

These characters are symbols, certainly. The secret to all magic is in using the symbols to good effect and CORRECTLY.

Mmm. And I don't think that the problem - then (80s) as now, was "social AND governmental IMPOTENCE"... I'll tell you what it's more like: Governmental and bureaucratic OVER-potence, to the ever-increasing extent of living in a state that approaches ever closer to "corporatism" or fascism (just go over to the site www.worldtraveler.com and have a browse around, it contains many digests of works by serious political authors: and you will see that many of these, including of course, Noam Chomsky, have been forecasting this situation for many years!!)... and the impotence of the "organised resistance", most of which is still pleased to call itself "the left" or "the liberals".

Liberalism as a political force in America is practically DEAD; *that* is the problem for old-time comics, which were as I keep on saying, FOUNDED on this doctrine. I shall have to prove it in my book since no idiot critic has to my knowledge said it: I seem to be the only person perceptive enough to cut through to the chase!

Well - at least it's pretty dead among the UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS; its former supporters among the elite. (The Democratic leadership, then.) I wouldn't say the same about the "grass-roots". Oh, and Hollywood seems to have been finally waking up to political movies...)

2) =I'd like to know something, Mr Maurice Broaddus!= I'm asking you - not because it's happened on this blog page, but on previous occasions - whenever I've said something like "well perhaps we should take a few steps back in comics" (or whatever) "to the ideals of the past when they seemed to have more [idealism]"... you've always reacted violently to that! "We can't go back", you've fulminated - (almost like I'm advocating a return to the days of US slavery or immediate post-slavery, for example! Well, obviously I'm not and neither are most people, but they still think that Abraham Lincoln's ideas were worth a million of George Bush's - know what I mean??)

There are obviously things in previous (popular) culture we can learn from, no?? I'm not talking about "nostalgia", I'm not talking about "tribute bands" or "70s nights". I'm talking about seeing where our culture has gone wrong, and - maybe - picking up some strands again from an earlier iteration of it (SAY THE 60S, SAY!!) before it all started to go so WRONG...

Because obviously it HAS gone wrong. Not even Frank Miller approved of it in the 80s (though I think that it is a safe bet to say that the older that man gets, the more conventionally right-wing he gets, and after "9/11" he seemed to be right in with the Bush camp, no question.)

Anyway: cultures can decline, as well as improve. (I don't know whether you believe in "progress"?? People used to, that's all I know!)

And if one refuses to face up to facts, then a) culture could either slide back to the Stone Age... not quite what we neo-pagans have in mind I can tell you! (Anyway "a simpler life" is impossible without VAST population die-off.)

Or b) we could enter into a new period of barbarism: a New Roman Empire or quasi-Nazi period. (That means the RETURN of racism, OK?? Read Joanne Rowling's books - I think they are VERY prophetic in this regard - they contain all sorts of VEILED references to racism and analogies with fascism!!)

So I *really* don't think that without a concerted effort to examine and critique and weed out our current culture, there is much hope for humanity - well, the West - at all.

That means you can't just do the comfortable bourgeois thing and make like an ostrich. And it also means you must find some way in which to... deal with my questions which say things to the effect like: "well, why not go back to some thoughts which they had in the not-so-distant past??"

Why NOT?? I've always HATED growing up in the 80s and 90s. Absolutely loathed it. It ensured me a miserable life: I can tell you that!

Tagline: Loki was the first arsonist!!

1:53 AM  

(Leave a comment)

January 30th, 2006

06:09 am - Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns", review discussions continued
socialist liz said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator. (And I've yet to find it on my hard drive as well, though I generally save all posts... Something has been going wrong with my Yahoo Browser recently - it's the one that came with my broadband. I still wish to locate this post!)

10:07 AM  
Socialist Liz said...

Trust YOU, Maurice! There was only =one= duplication - I *told* you there was something wrong with the "blogger" posting software - there was - I opened it in another window and it was full of funny fonts, for a while!

Why did you remove them both - instead of just the duplicated one?

Write something yourself, in reply, if you're so clever! Like, for example: how is it that Christians can praise fiction that obviously has problems from their world view... and yes, I *know* you're post modern, so that certain things that will bother the "fundies", such as evolution, will not bother you, or several others on this site... we know. But then the more "social" issues... such as whether superheroes should carry guns and kill people - should bother you more, shouldn't they? Being consistent. I expect certain things from you that I wouldn't from the rural white Appalachian or Bible Belt type Christian... you know!

Well. I know, for example, that there are various things that I as a socialist, simply could not endorse... and other things that I might feel slightly guilty about liking, let's say... and yet other things which there are sometimes "left-wing panics" about, such as the supposed "racism" of the Lord of the Rings movies (because they have orcs with dreadlocks, pah!) which I know are simply not true, because I have knowledge of certain other areas that the Guardian scribblers are not hip to... such as that Tolkien was something of a libertarian! (Helps to read some of those libertarian sites.) I know all about these issues. I have even mentally worked out some ways in which to write new fantasy (but ideally I would want contributors from the relevant cultures) in order to get round these hoary old charges of ethnocentrism by making it multicultural.

Nobody in comics however seems to be interested in such problems and issues (apart from Neil Gaiman. And even him you won't get to make a fuss about it! Why - I'll spell it out to you, one word: b-o-u-r-g-e-o-i-s).

In fact, none of the major comics companies (which is WHY I insult them so roundly, in case you were wondering) seem very interested, on the whole, in these "big issues" at all... they don't seem to want to get comics "up to speed", to make them modern, let alone "post-modern". Yes, yes, we have a lot of artsy-fartsy posing, as I pointed out: but little that provides real political meat, and little that is to do with issues.

What COULD comics have dealt with/become, from the 1980s onwards? Well, as well as trying for populism, as I suggested, they could also have used their less-expensive-to-produce-and-experiment-with status, as something to drive a wedge of "minority" issues into the popular culture! They could have taken up black, feminist, leftist, and GLBT causes. (Fancy THAT, Maurice - PROGRESSIVE comics! About the only one (rather mild and for children) I've ever heard of was called "Captain Planet" - and you??) They could have, perhaps even more importantly, gained themselves some new writers, who were of these minority groups!!

(Oh yeah - and I know there are a handful of writers involved with comics who fancy themselves as "left".. but honestly, the pretensions of such as Alan Moore just make me LAUGH! As I suggested. No. When I meant LEFT, I meant S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-T. Like I said - you have some of that "minority" over there in America, and there are definitely some across the Pond here.)

There is something wrong with that medium: because it simply doesn't have the minorities involved in it, unlike television (well at least they have black actors and I believe, writers, and they certainly have lots of women involved in the writing/production side of American TV, even if far from equal numbers)... and it doesn't appear to be attempting to gain or attract them. There was some brief talk of more women writers early in the 90s, but as this writer has before said, we soon stopped hearing about it...

Comics don't convince me: because they are a backward and largely rightist medium. Not *all* American culture is like that: I have already cited TV serials.

Certain socialists, you may like to know, don't believe in "positive discrimination" at all;
but I do happen to do so, in certain areas and at certain times, most of all to redress balances in professions/industries that have been male and white-dominated for eons.

Which are right now not being redressed.

So try that one on for size.

(And if anyone on this site thinks I believe their excuses for deleting things, they can just think again: I am not fooled and I know that when it is done it is usually as censorship. (When not against random spam.) I am Liz! I know these things! You bet your ass I do.)

4:12 PM  
socialist liz said...

Sigh, why do I bother?

Do lots of people *really* ask you about comics, Maurice - and =do= they, indeed, mostly still have the "old" meme in their heads about it... *you* know what I mean - spandex tights (like you mentioned), Pop Art, old TV serials. Have none of the people you have met who want to discuss the medium with you - have none of them (Christians?) ever read some of the new "mature-oriented" comics - and have they not had =issues= with some of them... such AS the "modern graphic novel Batman", or such as Warren Ellis' "Preacher" or something?

The Christians on this forum don't seem very interested in Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns". From either a positive or a negative standpoint.

Have you ever asked yourself the question: don't people want comics that are "fun"... (with adult interest but still "fun"....)?

I have. And I know what conclusions I have come to.

So... with the... hmm - Frank Miller - type of comics - do Christians (say the ordinary, non-horror-writing kind!) ever ask themselves (if they want to read comics) if they "ought" to be "into" that type of stuff?

The particular outlook on life which Frank Miller and those who support him purvey, I mean to say.

That would be interesting to talk about!

(For it's certainly not Christian! And it's not humanist, either.)


One thing I thought about this weekend past, was my recurring conclusion, concerning how =weak and one-dimensional= (not even two-dimensional and "cardboard cutout") Frank Miller's version of the character of the Joker was, as a villain, in "The Dark Knight Returns".

Yes, the Joker "plots something big"... but does he have any "big idea", well let's say any point, behind what he plots? Answer: no. Miller's narrative is very confused, and appears to involve a ridiculous and unprovoked (apart from the ravings of a naked senator who is in fact drugged by the machinations of the Joker: that appears to be Joker's involvement in the "political" side of the plot) attack on America by Russia... with ONE nuclear weapon!!

(As if that was going to happen in an age of Mutual Assured Destruction. When I first heard of this being popular, just after I read it, I thought that its sales must have something to do with the fact that the Cold War which produced such fright in us all was still at its height, and the usual American fear of a nation that is different to themselves and which cannot by them be dominated, reared its head... You know, like the plot of Rocky III, was it - with the Russian boxer?? Which I thought was pants, at the time.

But demme, I watched that movie on TV a few months ago, and although it had a simplistic plot, it made far more sense then does Frank Miller's... I don't know how to describe it!

So I don't think that the Cold War was much of an excuse for people buying this graphic novel and thereby boosting Frank Miller's career. I only bought it because I didn't know better! Nowadays I try to get nearly all my graphic novels second hand off the net.)

Anyway: =all= the villains in this are cardboard, worse than cardboard, that being my main point.

You yourself describe the Joker as "the mad clown prince". But what, pray, does he do here that is either funny, or princely - or the actions of a "genius"?

I agree that he was in the old comics, but not in this!

As for the other main villain, Harvey Two-Face Dent... the ex-District Attorney... (do you know that that is SUCH a mythic and redolent idea for a character; and there is actually a plot that is very much like that - ie public prosecutor turns leader of criminal gang - in either 19th or early 20th century German-language high lit - I learnt about it in passing in school, never forget my language qualifications - but I can't for the life of me remember the title or author!)

SO IT'S A GOOD IDEA... and not solely based on "Jekyll and Hyde" either... those two, Kane and Finger, were plugging into more cultural resources than they let on, I think.

But - WHAT does Frank Miller make out of it?

Not very much, in a literary sense. I fail to see how he makes Dent "struggle with his demons". Instead, as I have said, we have from Frank the Manichean view... a sort of superstitious pessimism which declares that even if Dent is released from his disfigurement, he will somehow "turn evil again", for no explained reason - and it says that he would somehow undo his own operation... how and why, would he do that??

Come on!

Miller's villains have no depth.

As for the "symbolism" aspect of the characters, well, as a "mythologist" myself I understand what it means, for a character to be a symbol... but as a writer, you can't make them just that, or what you end up with IS a cutout... Archetypal characters for me should be at once totally symbolic and entirely individual: if you are doing a "reworking" of mythological characters, you have to make them come alive as "human" personalities (even if some of them in the story are in fact gods. In the Greek, etc, sense.)

Miller doesn't make his characters come alive!

And as I have said to you many a time, the Joker is a Trickster (deity!) [note this, all visitors - it's a VERY important fact!]; and a Trickster god can't be a death god. As Miller makes him, which was ever his own invention, and he just corrupted old comics to put that meme in there. THAT DOES NOT COMPUTE. It is in =no= mythology!! At least, not where the Trickster is an unmitigated death-dealer (he can be the god of boundaries and crossroads, actually he frequently is!)

But Trickster does not equal Hades, Thanatos, Angel of Death... whatever. (Or Satan, for that matter... yes, I *think* I can see why you like this idea... it's part of the current American fashion for making out that "criminals are evil" isn't it, and therefore that they constitute some evil that comes from "outside" the society; which is not created within it, ie that criminals are devils... huh! TELL THAT TO THE HOOD!!)

Miller has put some sort of a Nazi interpretation in there, of my favourite "gods" - and that is what he deserves a kick in the butt for!!

You don't write bad reviews, Maurice: you write nice reviews of bad fiction, sometimes.

7:59 PM  
socialist liz said...

And this entire comic is filled with gratuitous deaths. Just thought I'd make that clear, if I haven't already. (Gratuitous violence, too, but a lot of that happens "off-stage", so is "suggested", or we see the "aftermath": another trick Miller uses: he does it again in Sin City, which however contains more "real" violence.)

And all it does is insult the political left: and Miller (again another favourite trick of his!) attempts to use female characters "against themselves"... ie, just as he uses black-leather-wearing swastika-toting Condi-Rice-reminiscent prostitutes in "Sin City", to present a RIGHT-WING idea of the female, and of *his* idea of "feminism"...

... he uses a pre-pubescent girl in this named Carrie Kelly to portray the character of Robin... and here's the kicker - folks, she's NOT an orphan... no no, her parents DON'T CARE ABOUT HER, you see, *because* they are lefties and old-time protestors who are still discussing the glory days of the 60s; so when she climbs out of the window, they =just don't notice she's gone= - a likely story!

None of the other female characters (who are actually adult, have a job, and are not dependent on men in batsuits or otherwise) in this "novel" get as positive a treatment; in fact, =all= the other women in this story are portrayed as "liberal villains"... or the dupes/victims of same.

This is what right-wingers do. They live in a fantasy world that is more extreme and divorced from reality than any comic... at least traditional comics are rooted in archetypes and in folk art, thank you very much. Right-wingers live in la-la land, and as we can see from Robertson et al, they have a way of presenting THEMSELVES as the "persecuted" of society... what a laughable irony!

Next Frank Miller is going to start a site called "save the men", or something!

All his fiction amounts to just one big rant on the decline of "macho" values; and a big whine about (working-class?) men no longer having the "dominant" role in society and in many homes; and he is just the reactionary sort to blame the ills of modern society on the rise of (genuine, not prostitute) feminism; and on what types like him would see as "feminine" values in the workplace, etc. (Hence his "punishment" of female professionals in the above story.)

Ie - he fears the rise of Gaia! (Show him a pentacle and he'll faint.)

Miller is just so transparent it's not true. But to those who have not yet acquired the art of "seeing through", it must be pointed out.

8:30 PM  
socialist liz said...

Hey Maurice... why don't you just admit that I'm right?? That would make a change!

In the original post I made above, I was very restrained, really... I just said that there were "problems" with Frank Miller's work. (And Mark Stokes says I was being "venomous" - I was not, just skeptical! No, no... really... is it "venomous", when someone from, like, The Skeptics' Society, or CSICOP, questions the claims of Uri Geller, or something? Which action, it must be admitted, is far more prejudicial to the careers of Uri and his fellow mystics, than is my saying that I don't agree with an HJ reviewer's take on comics! Well, actually, I agree that those altercations in the "paranormal" world can become venomous, especially when they involve James Randi... but like I said on another board of yours, Maurice... there are a lot of crooks out there - so people making claims really have to back them up with evidence. As I always try to do!)

In fact, I am surprised that no-one else on this board has mentioned these difficulties - though I know by now that it prefers to take the "upbeat" approach. (But not always!)

But really, there are big problems with comparing Frank Miller's Batman (especially) to Jesus Christ, because Miller's "Dark Knight" doesn't know what mercy is, obviously... and unlike Jesus... he has absolutely NO sympathy with the poor or the outcast... all that stuff about Harvey Dent... well, he KILLS him, doesn't he, in this, only it's "suggested" not graphically shown! Anyway, the only reason Miller implies he sympathises with Harvey is that Harvey used to be "on the side of good"... "authority" is what is meant by "good" here, I think! (Again, another very anti-Jesus-of-Nazareth message!)

Well, Miller never shows him as feeling sorry for the Joker - the Joker is obviously The Dark Knight's anathema maranatha... his Devil, then... (now THAT is the religious parallel we are looking for here! But as the socialists say, it's not Christian, it's Manichean!)

Well, I think it's obvious that Frank Miller and his hero hate the Joker (ah, yes, the Joker! The best villain in old-time comics! And yes, he WAS the funniest!) because the Joker is gay, unmasculine, weird, "punk" (note the green hair!), outside the patriarchal authority system... the fact that he kills people, which Miller exaggerates out of all proportion, comes I think fairly low on the bottom of the list. (Because so is Miller's Batman a killer... he's just more hypocritical about it! He claims to use "rubber bullets"... that's what was used against the population in Northern Ireland, incidentally - and yet he has this big tank thing which he drives all over a youth gang with - he must crush a few of them!)

Well, the killing bit on the part of the villain is just used as an *excuse* for the hero's disgust: when in actual fact a (nonviolent) guy with green hair and wearing stack-heeled boots would cause this just as surely in him! Thank you: I know prejudice when I see it. (Unless you think that Frank Miller is some sort of advocate for gay rights or something... I think not!)

I agree that the villains in this are pretty much destructive morons: but then I didn't re-create them, as Frank Miller has done! And I don't agree with such a one-sided portrayal. It belies all this silly talk (that newspapers at the time bought into) that Frank Miller is a great writer. WHY is he not?? I'll tell you why he's not! Because he disregards every "rule", every mark of great literature I ever learnt about at school. (And in my old Puffin Club book magazine, incidentally!) Primarily in the characterisation. We were taught not to create cardboard characters; our Mr Hubbard was always going on about making them "rounded"... (even though I knew at the time there are exceptions to the rule!) BUT, if you want to create a lasting piece of fiction, with a great dramatic villain in it, he has to be interesting, like Milton's Satan, Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, whatever. It's always a good idea to give your great villain/antihero some good or admirable qualities. Otherwise he becomes a right bore. Point I hope taken.)

Problems, problems, problems, with this type of "graphic novel"... from both the artistic and the moral/Christian point of view.

As I said, **I'm surprised that no Christian group or whatever has, to my knowledge, yet come forward to say this about comics.** (Though I'm sure there have been some complaints about violence.)

I think the problem is, quite simply, that just not enough Christians these days have left-wing sympathies and concerns, whereas they USED to, once upon a time: they helped found the early union movement.

Anyway, I have yet to find a Christian socialist website - with a message board and an arts bias! Preferably.

If I were actually still a Christian, I'd have a go at founding one.

11:38 AM  

(1 comment | Leave a comment)

January 26th, 2006

05:10 am - Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", continued further
socialist said...

Any more, for any more?

Other contributors solicited...

5:51 AM  
Sunshine2316 said...

Sure, I'll contribute. I thought the reivew was fascinating. I'm a big fan of Maurice's work and this review made me want to go read the comic. I also hear Frank Miller is a wonderful writer and that his story-telling, while violent, is great. Thanks Maurice!

2:57 PM  
Liz said...

Er, yeah... well no-one is saying that Maurice is a bad REVIEWER!!

Yeah. Sunshine, I believe you are a girl, same gender as me. I honestly do believe that there is very little in Frank Miller's work to interest female readers. He does not write for our benefit; he is largely interested in promoting his vision of (rather old and tired, but with disturbing and nihilistic "modern" elements) "machoness"... his ideas according to the socialist description would be "backward". According to the feminist take on it... he is just stale, a dead end. And I hardly dare imagine what the GLBT (if you know what that signifies!) camp think of him... again not a lot, I'd think.

He is just against all progressive movements. His idea of Batman/Bruce Wayne finally abandoning the city he loves, Gotham, and going with a few of his friends old and new to camp out in the woods, militia-style, proves it! (It's rather like what Heinrich Himmler believed: ie that cities/civilization were the home of Jews and corruption! Funnily enough, a lot of the negative (if not "villainous") characters in this GN are Jewish, too... Miller's Batman punches a female police chief named "Yindel" in the face! (So: Anti-feminist, anti-semitic... I don't know why the CEO of DC Comics, a certain Ms. Kahn, was stupid enough to publish this!) Other Jews are portrayed as dupes or hopeless liberals. Should have made the company think again, but it didn't... well I have no good opinion of US popular culture on the whole these days!

Plus - Miller's Batman in NO WAY is sexy! Quite the opposite: he's very unattractive both physically and personality-wise.

So what is the point of him?

This, by the way, is why a Hollywood film based on that GN was NEVER made... the offensiveness to various groups, plus the unsexiness.

And never will be made!

6:53 AM  
socialist liz said...

Yeah, I think it's time for me to come out... "liz" and "socialist" are the same person, OK? I'm still using my "given" name over at Kevin's blog...

But yeah, sure, HJers: My name is Liz and I am a socialist... Not an American one, though I do assure you, there are more of that persuasion in the US, than your media will admit!

What I'm really waiting for, is, hopefully, someone who can see things a little bit from my point of view regarding the above work (however much they like Maurice's reviews in general.)

What we really need, is for someone who has read "Dark Knight Returns", either when it first came out, or more recently... and who can see problems in it, as a Christian reader.

I have criticised it from both a socialist and a "minority group" perspective, pointed out some of its flaws from that regard: what I would like is for a Christian reviewer... probably one of the others on this site... Elizabeth Leitch? Mr Furches? Anybody? to come forward and say: Actually, for me, I had problems with...

Because I think that would fairly illustrate the problems, as it were!

I have always said that it is my belief that it is nigh-on impossible, maybe counter-productive, to try and "read" Christian messages, into *not only secular authors*, that will work, but rather into ones with a generally anti-Christian (and anti-human?) agenda!

I don't think that really works very well!

Anyway. And I still think I was right to push the Miller's Batman/Mussolini comparison, and to demand on a Christian site an answer to the question: well, if none of us (as Christians or whatever - all good-thinking people!) would be expected to admire such people in politics...

...how come they are allowable nowadays as comic book heroes? (Hey, how about a "Saddam Hussein" Batman?)

(Actually, I think Hollywood, though it more-or-less accepted the "amoral Batman" idea for its first two Batman adaptations, has moved away more and more from that... and actually did quite an about face with "Batman Begins", however they tried to promote it as a return to the Burton ethos, it wasn't: quite the opposite! That was quite a liberal movie. Po-faced, serious, not very entertaining: but liberal. Quite sincere, in my view. But sadly not utopian!)

7:12 AM  
socialist liz said...

And I'm sure Maurice wouldn't admire a "Fidel Castro" Batman either... I'm sure he'd have something to say about a red-style dictator hero!

SO Maurice... why no comment on a "hero" who is prepared to torture others by putting glass into their arms?? For instance?

Actually, one of the weird things about Miller's magnum opus; one of my "quibbles" concerning it which I wanted to discuss (but only if we have enough people on here who have read the comic, like Mark Stokes)... is that, for a lot of the time, you can't really SEE what Miller's Batman is doing... but a lot of what is negative is "implied", and much of it seems to have happened "off-screen"... for example, Bats totes a machine gun, but I can't remember seeing him actually shoot a man down with it, though I believe he does... I think that a LOT of this vagueness and "artsi-fartsiness" is actually caused by the TENSION between the rules of comic books (superheroes don't kill - REMEMBER??) and the "new rules" of "action movies", Schwarzenegger and so on, when it doesn't matter how many bodies the hero cuts down, the more, the merrier... REALLY I think that the editors such as Dennis O'Neil should have taken a breath here and said to the writers: OK, comics aren't Schwarzenegger movies and superheroes aren't Rambo... THAT MEANS, FRANK: that not only do I not want you and your acolytes graphically portraying that type of action (so as to frighten the "censors"), I don't want you "suggesting" it, either: I want a better kind of ethos! "Adult comic" does not mean an artsified version of a shootemup movie!

But being a coward, he didn't.

So, comics fanboys, what happens to Two-Face in the end, in this "masterpiece"? I believe that Batman in fact throws him off that building... or he "slips"... but it IS in fact never really shown!

How PRECISELY does the Joker die... I USED to think, as your summarizer at the above link thought, that the Batman actually, gruesomely, twisted his spine vertically, to break it, and that the Joker finally finished himself off by moving his neck around (obviously, he didn't want to be paralysed!)

But, a couple of months ago, when I came to re-read that vile thing, I found that I couldn't find the *actual panel*, where the Batman picks him up and actually does it... there are a few where he actually TALKS a good game, such as: "I've always known, Joker, that the only thing you ever needed was my two hands", or something like that.. I forget the original phrase... but anyway, the original does have plenty of opportunity for double entendre and mockery, which the Joker COULD very easily take advantage of (I know I would!) but Frank, not being a witty man, fails to, you see. He just doesn't have the dialogue skills, to endow his Joker with "sass". Therefore the very climax of the comic... falls flat! I'd accept a slaying of the Joker if he went down fighting and objecting (and making the Batman feel inadequate!) all the way... as with Milton's fine Satan!

Yeah, Bats here makes plenty of threats to his arch-adversary... but actually, on that re-reading, it looked more like the Joker fell off something and broke his spine!! Maybe the Batman pushed him, again!! (Miller's Batman, you are a coward.)

You see, you can't see what's going on in most of these panels: I kid you not, unsuspecting reader!! Miller just DOES NOT MAKE IT CLEAR; and for that, for my money, technically he's a very bad writer. And this he has in common with several other modern Bat-writers, namely, for one, Grant Morrison.

None of them can write fiction, you know!! Loads of their stories are full of the most MASSIVE plot holes and non-sequiturs.

And then when Miller carries on with his screeds and pages upon pages of verbal-less, dialogueless, speech-and-thought-bubble-less "fiction", you lot praise him as being a "great visual storyteller"!

My bum! He just can't think of the dialogue, or the thought bubbles! Or of a good narrative box...

The ONLY scene where this actually works (which I believe was the one in fact nabbed by a certain Mr Schumacher and screenwriters) is, possibly, in the "flashback" where Bruce falls into a cave as a child, and he crawls along for ages... and encounters... the "Bat demon!"

Yeah, like there are actually any giant bats living in caves in the north-eastern United States! Was what I thought upon reading it first. (I was determined to hold them to scientific possibility, you see, for Batman always had sort of a science basis!)

But then... quite a lot later...I began to see it had... possibilities. (One of Miller's very few scenes that does!)

After all, that could very well have been a dream sequence... young Bruce could have been stunned from the fall... he could have been hallucinating... so that all ties in nicely to what some of us may think about "shamanism".

But Frank Miller doesn't really KNOW about that sort of thing anyway: because "Ayn Randists" don't.

And you can't make the whole of a comic a "dream sequence"; that is to say, non-linear, confusing, and full of plot holes!!

Because that is what it then becomes... a BLACK HOLE of annoying writing and worse ideology!

7:58 AM  
socialist liz said...

Wot, no more for any more.... sigh.

Well. I suppose that without further stimulation, I must soon talk myself dry... which is probably what Maurice wants!

Ah! Before anything else is said, though, I must thank him for coming through on his promise to review this by-now vintage title for this site, so that *I* can have a chance to get at it in public! (On such a heavily-visited and search-engined website!) At last! (And hopefully my grumblings WILL, likewise, be seized upon by some sort of searchbot and archived for all eternity - I dearly want my objections to "DKR" to be so, whereas I don't care if it picks up that I said that Frank Miller, with his unhealthy "Batman and Robin" comic has paedophile obsessions...he undoubtedly has some very unhealthy ideas about sex, that man, but that's not the chief reason I dislike him! It's political - and artistic objections, that drive me contra him.)

Maurice provides me with a nice little pulpit, every now and again.

Because, you see... this was ALL very frustrating for me.. because in the mid-to-late-Eighties, when all these comics first came out, in the "new style"... there was absolutely nowhere you could go, nowhere someone like me could go, to discuss these "developments". There just weren't any fora for comic book fans - or foes! And the comic books themselves never seemed to publish letters from foreign readers. In Britain, comic books weren't taken very seriously by most people anyway... I still doubt whether they are now... it's a good question! It's always been a sort of "cult" interest, anyway: any comic book character has; including TV tie-ins like Buffy. Or Alien. Or whatever. All sci fi is cult.

During the early 90s, when both my research into old comics and my ire with the new were reaching a peak... there were likewise VERY few outlets for this sort of interest, positive or negative. [I managed to get an 800-word letter-cum-article published in a British comics trade magazine ONCE.  In 1993.  Actually, I've found part of that now on the Internet, believe it or not - but only a snippet!]  There was no internet then - no proper internet: the WWW only started in, I think it was, '93... and definitely no "blogs" or anything like that, till a good few years after that. Pity. I would have enjoyed a chance for a good blog, in my mid-twenties! I would have made one with a new entry for every bad comic I ever read... Now I just don't have that sustained kind of energy.

But still my dislike of Frank Miller and cohorts smoulders... I think one of the most annoying things is, that BECAUSE they are comics, not movies, or anything like that, they are never discussed seriously and thoroughly by TV, newspapers etc; therefore pre the blogs and easy internet access for the likes of me, a public discussion of the subject, or even listening to one, was simply impossible. [There could have been one on British radio, eg Radio 4, but I never caught one!  I honestly think that hardly anyone was interested in seriously disussing the subject!] Without public access like this, many of the subjects which oppress so many of us out here simply get ignored and are impossible to discuss, period. Pre the internet, so many of us never mind could not compete with the vomitings of the mass media, it was so seldom that we could even get a voice "out there", never mind even "heard"!  (I'm sure that a lot of Christians as well as those of minority political parties have had this experience.)

So, thank you, Internet! Thank you, HJ!

Movies for some reason, though they are a relatively new form, ever since about the 1930s have been taken "seriously"... and comics, never, and that applies to the opinions of socialist websites too... go figure!

So this is the basic breakdown of the situation:

1) Comics are only taken seriously by a) their fans b) a very thin layer of "trendy media" type people. This was the case in the 80s, and is still more-or-less the case today... I think there is more pressure now, on the mainstream media, to regard comics as serious, since they have become such a "salmon farm" for movies, as one critic for an important web publication put it. [Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com]  But I still don't think that a lot of more senior critics are biting. I'm not surprised guys... they're still not worth it, by and large!

2) I think they are, however, worth serious sociological discussion, and this is only ever done in the very occasional book, of media analysis, whatever. One title like this I found useful for this purpose was "The Many Lives of the Batman", by Pearson and Uricchio... though it didn't go back as far as the original comics, for some unaccountable reason... AND it was "censored" by the folks at DC... it was quite a positive book on the whole, but *because* the editors decided to conclude it with an essay of their own, mildly sceptical in tone, which contained some Marxist terms and analysis... the DC/Warner stuffed shirts wouldn't let them use any of the Batman pictures, from comics or the movie, as illustrations or even on the cover... so they had to give it a really bland cover! (I'm sure they could fight it now, under the "fair use" legislation, like wikipedia does.. but I daresay in the early 90s they couldn't be bothered.) They explained why inside. I NOTICE things like that; and I resent the DC people for them! If EVER you think that there is free speech in your country... well... DESPITE the First Amendment provision... just look at things like that! That is a bye the bye, but I found it very telling. If something has the word "Marx" anywhere on it, DC wants to censor it... DC, you should be ashamed of yourselves for all time, you and whoever was responsible for that decision then. They deserve to go to the pagan hell for all liars and oath-breakers, and generally hypocritical people.

Conclusion: Comics have a lot more SOCIAL significance than people think that they do. They also point up certain.... ideological fashions. They certainly have bags of influence on other fiction media, which is why *I* believe they deserve to be seriously studied.

But - do they make good reading material? No, most of the modern ones don't, in fact. IMO. Why? Because they are too pretentious.

The older "pulp" was far better in terms of entertainment, and for several other reasons, primarily ideological ones.

The "new school" in comics has really made out of the entire modern medium one gigantic missed opportunity. One, to produce something populist - it has strived instead for "artiness" and arrived more often than not at pretension. Two, to continue the ideals of comicdom's past, but to in addition, take a leaf from the "underground" comics of the 1960s (which are still published today) in which stock characters such as superheroes, etc, are used as witty political commentary and left-wing satire.

Modern "mainstream" comics have veered much too far to the political right. (Not for populist reasons; hardly anybody shares those values, which is why comics today are such a fringe medium, and only trumpet the twisted views of a few twisted people like F.M.)

Them's the facts, gentle readers - and don't I know 'em!

8:26 AM  

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January 20th, 2006

04:56 am - Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", continued
Reviews by Mark Stokes said...

Ummm... don't kill, and don't maim. Stay in school, kids. And don't do drugs.

That's all I got.

6:02 AM  
socialist said...

Yeah... MARK: I MEANT, on the part of superheroes... This is SURELY a more weighty theme/problem than you, Maurice etc. seem to give credit to!

It's a question of role models, now isn't it? How are those kids going to stay in school, not do drugs - not kill each other being the most important point of all of these - if their heroes do? (Kill and do negative things.) THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT. Please do not be obtuse!

And I think another, related point, which the "liberal conservatives" on here are again doing their best to avoid, as they usually do - is that - of course - images of "heroes" like Miller's Batman will only do everything to encourage those, who think that their aggressions are best let out, when not in their own neighbourhoods, on "America's enemies", and so they join the armed forces and get sent to the Middle East... and more importantly, when they get there, behave like bullies and like animals! Anybody who does not like this description: I reference you to Abu Ghraib.

There's no getting away from it... An attitude and certain recommendations in "fiction" have results.

(The American Govt. obviously think so otherwise they would encourage fiction which urges people to do drugs - or in a more reasonable mode, for the legalisation of marijuana. However, all the major media and publishing and entertainments organisations are very much "down" on drugs, including marijuana: when it has been proven that there were particular economic interests (rather than medical ones) against that herb all along....)

Just an example.

7:28 AM  
Reviews by Mark Stokes said...

I think the tragedy is in the fact that the CONSUMERS or the parents/guardians of the consumers don't realize that some things are targetted at a younger audience (Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Archie, etc.) and others are not (Frank Miller comics, the Halo series, etc.). Does that mean we should quit making things that have heavy levels of darkness or that may be too intellectually challenging for children? I sure hope not. The solution, as I see it, is for parents to be parents--to know that some things can't be grasped by children or have deeper psychological ramifications on them. Writers have the responsibility to write TRUTHFULLY--to recreate and magnify the world around them. For me, that world's not very violent or profane. If I tried to create a world like that, it would probably seem artificial and forced. For others, like Frank Miller, it's got more dark subject matter. If he tried to write Archie & Jughead, there would probably be a level of untruth to the story that would make the comic flop. (Of course, I've never met Frank Miller, so I don't know all the complexities of his environment or the environment in which he was raised.)

9:52 AM  
socialist said...

Ah! I agree with you that some consumers are just not that well informed, and that they should be more aware of what they purchase for their offspring. The comics companies could *aid* them in this, however! By the placement of "mature readers only" stickers, which true to tell I have seen on very few American graphic novels, or by the utilisation of a classification system such as that of the MPAA (which the comics people seem to all throw their hands up at, however) or by a voluntary classification, such as I understand is the one used for video games.

I really don't think that DC etc. have been very helpful yet to the buying public in that regard. And I honestly don't see how they dare to sell something like "DKR" without any sort of warning label on it - especially seeing as it has, among other things including of course violence, a bare-breasted swastika-advertising transsexual in it!! (So would they sell something like that in Wal-Mart in US? You tell me!)

So do you think Frank Miller writes violent comics because he was raised in a violent environment? (Possibly. Yeah, I don't think he could write anything with humour in it!)

Yeah, yeah; but, leaving kids aside for the moment... what about simply the general message and general ideal which such "heroes" as Miller portrays, purvey? What does it say about the attitude of the country in which, as you claim, "millions of readers" - was it millions - approve of such a hero, go all ga-ga over him, indeed! Now... DOES Miller's Batman really provide an ideal which one could justify oneself as proud to adopt?

Surely superheroes were meant to be all about ideals... WHY were they created, then? After all, they are fantasy characters, so you can't use the excuse that you're basing them on types from real life (as you can with a "realistic" cop show.)

I was debating with myself whether to include this bit or not, but you've persuaded me to!

This is a section from the current manifesto of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) US, for the 2006 elections. They are one of the larger socialist parties in the US, and you can easily look them up on the web. This is what they have to say about popular culture:-

"The Socialist Equality Party calls as well for measures to enable working people to have full access to art and culture. American popular culture was once one of the wonders of the world, a pole of attraction because of its innovation and powerful democratic and humanistic spirit. As in other spheres, the subordination of culture to the profit motive has led to an immense degeneration.

Popular culture has suffered under the impact of funding cuts for the arts and a right-wing ideological assault on artistic expression. Government subsidies to museums, orchestras, theaters and public television and radio have been gutted. Art and music education has been drastically curtailed or eliminated outright from most public schools. Library hours and services have been scaled back. The damage to the intellectual and moral fabric of society resulting from such a mercenary and philistine approach is impossible to quantify. There is, however, an indisputable link between the glorification of militarism, brutality and egotism and hostility to the artistic and cultural heritage of previous generations."

Note the "glorification of militarism + brutality" bit!

(And the next bit about current backward trends rejecting America's previous cultural heritage.... AH!)

10:29 AM  
Reviews by Mark Stokes said...

Many of the DC Comics have "Suggested for Mature Readers" written microscopically on their back covers. It's not blatant, but I think they, along with many other comic companies are reacting to freedom from the Comics Code, which wouldn't allow the presence of zombies, or blood or even the mere mention of drugs (even in a story with an anti-drug use message like the Spider-man/Green Goblin story back in the 70s). Like most humans, they're reacting to something they find detestable by running as far to the other side as possible. Obviously, this is not the complete solution. Typically, I find that rather than running to the antithesis of the problem, we should weigh the positives & negatives of both lines of thinking & head somewhere in the middle with the synthesis (no, that's not an original idea).

As far as the socialist/capitalist debate is concerned, I'm honestly not so interested. Our CNN culture has created so many talking heads, that we spend 90% of our time voicing our opinions on the issues of the day, and less than 10% of our time doing something about it (the other percentage is used for personal hygiene, work, etc.). I'm not going to debate with you about politics. I'm not a huge fan of any governmental structure, so I don't place my focus there.

We agree that our culture is increasingly desensitized, but what can we do about it? I plan to write good stories. That's my call. Good won't always mean two hours of sunshines and rainbows, but it'll mean quality. That's where you feel led. You've obviously got a good mind, socialist. You seem to be good at formulating ideas. What can YOU do with those ideas and theories you're coming up with?

1:44 PM  
socialist said...

Ah, Mark, you come up with some good points...

1) I have never yet seen a DC comic (graphic novel) with "Suggested For Mature Readers" written in small print on the back. This may be because I live in the "European trade area", or whatever it is called officially, which means that practically all our comic book "reprints" (Marvel, DC, anything) are under the imprint of "Titan Books". They don't have this on the back. The ONLY GN I have seen with a "mature readers" flash has been "Arkham Asylum"... As for comics, I think that the last American import I remember seeing was in 1994... and yup, it still had the Comics code graphic on the back... do they not have them any more... who released them from this bond?? Was it such a good idea, seeing as they don't seem to have any viable alternative classification system? (I agree that Comics Code was bad idea, largely because it was "prescriptive" not "descriptive"... but where is the "descriptive" ratings system in comics?)

2) I'm going to answer your last question first: what am I going to do about it? I'm going to write an independent work of criticism; a book to be published by ipublishing or similar (as are several "idea books" I have seen of late!) I shall have lots of fun bashing and deconstructing the so-called ideals of modern comics. And finally I am going to make their pathetic sold-out writers hate me as much as I hate them. (The big offenders, I mean... Maurice knows who they are!)

I shall have my REVENGE on contemporary culture!! That may be the best thing I ever do... may be the final thing I ever do... seeing as I was up half the night with an asthma fit and my lungs still hurt!

If I go out, I shall go out fighting!

3) Your refusal to debate about politics was a bit weak! I don't believe in CNN and "talking heads" myself: most of what you see on American TV has been SO massaged by the capitalist elite and their paid journalistic hangers-on, that you can't set any store by it without heavy "interpretation" and reading between the lines.

Real politics IS more interesting than that; because it is about activism. Or debate that leads to activity. Your Faux news must have brainwashed you into thinking that politics was all about boring people talking (and most of the time you knowing that they are evading the issue anyway.)

Good stories are a start... but it depends what you mean by "good"! Quality of... printing, like the glossy graphic novels, "Arkham Asylum" and such utter garbage...or quality of IDEAS, of ideals?!

And Maurice, I haven't forgotten about YOU. Mark Stokes probably doesn't yet know what I mean, about "America rejecting its previous cultural heritage"... but I think that you, because of my previous correspondence, DO!

And you think it's something you can evade for ever. Well it's not, and you can't. Why, even "talking heads" on American TV are sometimes made to answer the question: I saw that myself on a CNN broadcast the other day. The journalists sometimes do do their jobs.

A culture that was once very much strongly in favour of democratic rights, and which had a humanistic popular culture which was the envy of the world... definitely loses out, when it sells out to a) corporate interests b) right-wing militarist maniacs c) faux "Christian" power-mongers like James Dobson, etc.

The only way you can stop that, is to attack it, head on. The right-wing are always mounting (verbal) attacks on people - just wait till they get some back.

You can't have both a constitution and a King George: democracy and a "Homeland/Fatherland Security Act".

THAT is what "acclaimed popular writers" such as Frank Miller, should be exploring, in their otherwise silly comics and movies - but they don't!

Maurice tells me that Frank Miller in some of his earlier works, was against the "over-corporatization" of society. (Isn't that a theme "explored" in "Robocop 2"?)

Yes, well: if only some of these writers could have a firmer footing from which to criticise their own societies... that would be better. Everything ends up disoriented, otherwise... most of the criticisms of American society from within it today are right-wing and disoriented; large sections of the working class HAVE basically been disoriented by kind of "right-wing militia" ideas, which don't really lead anywhere apart from blowing innocent people up. Ask any Trotskyist, they'll tell you.

What you don't seem to see is that not ALL "criticism" of modern society is EFFECTIVE or constructive criticism. Hitler was criticising 20s/30s German society... and I don't agree with HIM... so why should I agree with ALL "social critics"??

Depends on what base you are criticizing from - that should be self-evident.

And, although I have allowed plenty of "room" here, nobody has yet responded... hmm, I did think Mark might... to the all-important concept of IDEALS in comics and in their heroes.

Since Frank Miller's Bruce Wayne seems to have about the same ideas and level of morality as Benito Mussolini... (which was actually, truthfully, the very first image I got in my head when I read this comic) why should I melt all over him in raptures as you two have done??


I don't agree with anything Miller's Bruce Wayne does: and I don't think it's what the "real" Bruce Wayne would do. Especially not in retirement. Your pal at the link site points out that he has become a racing-car driver... this wastes valuable fuel and ruins the environment! No no no... when Batman retires, it will either be to keep bees, like Sherlock Holmes, or he will return to meditate in his (as "Batman Begins" shows us) beloved Tibet: which for various reasons has been a favourite retreat of comics and pulp heroes ever since the 30s...

He's not going to crash cars around and drive tanks! No no no!! Unacceptable!!

I'm sorry, but no. I won't buy it. Nope.


5:50 AM

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