For over two weeks now, this picture’s been getting a lot of hits here at Big Other:
364 total page views, and counting. Just the image, mind you—not an actual post. What makes this even funnier is that this JPEG never appeared in a Big Other post (well, until now). Instead, it’s a leftover from my discussion with Jeremy M. Davies about X-Men: First Class; there was at one point a part where I said something about Azazel, but it was dumb, so I cut it, and I thought that when I did, I deleted the image. I was wrong.
But since he’s here and people are eager to peer at him, let’s see if we can’t make him earn his keep…
Batman #404 (“Year One, Part 1”) (February 1987), page 23 (detail). Written by Frank Miller, art by David Mazzucchelli.
Seventeen years have passed since my last installment in this series, so let’s at last sit down and write some kind of conclusion. But first, a recap:
- Part 1 and Part 2 provided background for Frank Miller’s groundbreaking four-issue comics miniseries—namely, I described what he’d been up to prior to that, as well as what North American comics were like at that time;
- Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 offered close readings of the respective four books in the series;
- Part 8 (now up) examines the impact TDKR had on Miller’s subsequent career.
Now, in these final entries, I’ll outline what became of Batman, Frank Miller, and comics themselves after the Dark Knight returned…
X-Men: First Class.
A D: Much like how you hated The Tree of Life, Jeremy, I hated Bryan Singer’s two X-Men films. Hated them!
Jeremy: What, seriously? They made you physically ill?
Yes, seriously, ill. I would have gnawed my own arm off to escape, if it hadn’t meant forfeiting my malt balls.
I had a stray thought recently about Otto Preminger’s classic 1944 noir Laura (1944), based on Vera Caspary’s 1943 novel of the same name. The film’s first half revolves around the murder of the title character, although of course it’s more complicated than that. And I’d like to argue that it’s slightly more complicated than even that, owing to a quality that’s perhaps inherent in plot itself.
(This contains spoilers—although, as we shall see, they may not spoil much of anything…)
Leonardo #1, page 17 (1987) (detail; First Publishing reprint). Art by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
My father, who once trained as a baker, taught me when I was a kid how to bake an apple pie. I don’t know where he got the original recipe from; I highly doubt that he invented it. Certainly he didn’t invent the idea of baking pies. And he didn’t invent the idea of baking an apple pie.
He was very clear about certain instructions:
- always use Granny Smith apples;
- always use ice-cold water;
- touch the dough as little as possible.
Since then, I’ve baked several apple pies, and over time I’ve modified the recipe slightly, but it’s essentially the same (and I never violate his prime instructions).
When I make a new apple pie, I’m not doing anything new.
Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
Frank Miller released the sixth and last issue of Ronin in August 1984. Not everyone was sure what to make of the limited series, but Miller and his colorist, Lynn Varley, emerged from the project emboldened. As Miller put it to the Comics Journal in 1985, “[W]e’re scaring the horses. They need scaring” (Thompson 37).
Their next opportunity to startle their editors, peers, and fans would be much higher profile: DC editor Dick Giordano offered Miller the chance to reinvent Batman, whose books at the time were suffering declining sales. (Indeed, by 1985 Batman’s sales had reached such a low point that some at DC had suggested killing off the character.) Could Miller pull with Batman the same trick he’d managed with Daredevil?