Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Dark Knight Returns

Discussion of Frank Miller's graphic novel here at CGT and over at Catholicae Testudines technically started last Friday, but since I've been busy reading both DKR and HP, I haven't had time to write on it yet. But check out this post at CT about the references to Christianity in the book.

I've never read comic books before, so reading this novel was...interesting. It took a good deal of time to get adjusted to its flow and structure and I'm still not sure I'm comfortable with the form. I had a particularly difficult time with transitions in the book. First because I thought it was lacking basic solid transitions throughout (is that usual for comics?) and second because of the layout of the pages themselves - frames that would be equivalent to separate paragraphs in a regular novel often did not have any physical distinction from those around them (does that make sense?) and it sometimes was not immediately evident that there was a shift in speaker and/or setting (especially because I thought at first that Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne looked alike).

I also think I suffered from not reading previous Batman comics/graphic novels. All I knew of the Dark Knight was what I had seen in the movies. I didn't know enough about the villains and Batman's interaction with them and the response of Gotham (both the public and the government) to his crusade. I also didn't know his relationships with other superheroes, especially Superman.

Because of those setbacks, I'm sure there were elements of the plot I did not recognize for what they were and am still a bit murky on some (large) details: Were Two Face and the Joker connected other than sharing the same pyschologist? I thought Superman died when deflecting that warhead. Why didn't he die when they shot Kryptonite at him (or was it not Kryptonite)?

But the things I'm sure I understood in the book allowed me to understand that one of the reasons for the allure of comics is that they're actually very-layered and thought-provoking. The form of media forces the author to produce vibrant, fastpaced and necessary dialogue. All in all, I give it a thumbs up.