whitoro's Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 - TPB/HC review

A Misunderstood Masterpiece


People hated this story. People exploded with rage, insulting his writer, thinking he went mad, that he was only doing this to cash in, to flip the middle finger to an entire generation of fan that waited fifteen years to a sequel of another masterpiece. 
They we're all wrong. 
This story, this graphic novel, this comic book, however you want to call it, it' a masterpiece of epic proportions. 
Not perfect, I'll admit that, but still a masterpiece.  
 

The Story 

Superheroes as freedom fighter, but with a spin. Much like V for Vendetta, there is no Black or White. Sure, Luthor it's a bastard, but his world his in order, his heroes still defend humanity even if in secret. Sure, Batman fights for freedom, but that doesn't help if he's a bloodthirsty lunatic. 
But the most interesting thing it's the way which the story it's presented to us: experimental it's the only way I can describe it. 
Fragmented, nonsensical, like a dream sequence, without a specific pattern: it force you to adapt, you can't read this story like any other comic book.
It's a Frank Miller novel you have to follow like a Grant Morrison's hallucinantions session. 
This, literally filled with mind-blowing scenes, like Ray Palmer escaping from prisony, The death of Captain Marvel, Hal Jordan saving the earth, Lara confrontation with Brainiac, every single scene with The Question or Plastic Man. 
It's action-packed, it's adrenaline, he force you to keep up reading, you can't stop until it's over, and when you arrive at the end, you can only re-start.
    

The Art  & The Layout


"Half-finisched" "amateurish" "seizure-inducing", that's the way they called it. I'll give you this: artwork are probably the most  

 subjective of the components of a comic book. 
In my personal opinion, this is pure unadulterated awesomeness. It's not realistic, it's not suppoused to be! It's surreal, a dream sequence, a wounderful nightmare of colors and image, and frame, one against the other, like an abstract painting. It doesn't want to show you something, he wants to make you feel something, to give you emotions, to transport you into a cartoonish, exasperated world: the comic book world. Many were so angry because they wanted another "grim & gritty" tale, just like the first one, "The Returns". Miller instead had gived his fan a tale that in his insanity was a throwback to the Silver Age.

The Characters

 
This is a elseworlds story, people are meant to behave different. I never understood the anger that motivates most complains, about how Superma it's turned into a dumb muscle, slave of the villains. I'm a Superman fan myself, but I don't feel outraged by this depiction, nor I get all sicko when I see Batman becoming a self-proclaimed terrorist. They're not the main superheroes, they're different people with different stories in a different world (tecnically the time period it's still teh late eighties). 

Everyone of the side-heroes it's unforgettable in their own unique way: the wonderful nonsensical Platic Man, The Question and Green Arrow arguing from the different side of the political barricade, Flash "it's not old, it's classic", they all clash togheter in the perfectly constructed chaos, with a thousend of insane one-frame anchormens and tv hoasts, that help to enstabilsh the mood of a society without any controlo or rationality.

Also the villains are different from their canon counterpart. Lex it's not a suave businessman, but a deformed psycho hunchback, and Brainiac instead of a detached duhumanized computer it's a sexobsessed sociopath with God syndrome (by the way, Brainiac design it's a work of genius). They're not ment to be "characters" in the pure form of the term, they're ideas, they rappresent what "evil" is for the everyday human being, bad, dirty and ugly. They're deformed because they rapresent corruption, the violence of the  established power, a "perversion" of what this power should really do (help people).

The Dialogues

  
I remember a blogger writing that with this story Frank Miller predicted "Twitter". My God, was he right. Every single event have a thousand voices commenting it, there are a bizillion of point of views, in an amazing photograph of our society: everyone wants to say something on what is happening, everyone wants to express his opinions, no matter how crazy, insane or downright pointless it is. 
Satire, reference, nostalgic feelings, great lines, useless bulls**t: a magnificent fresco of words that help the overall mood of the story.
 

Conclusion

 
There you have it, my review of Miller greatest work. When I was reading The Dark Knight Returns, a classic, almost every ten pages I left out a yawn, even tought I loved the story, it was nothing really original, really groundbreaking (of course for my time)... but this... This it's simply god-sended. 
DK2 it's a crazy, hypercinetic, f****d-up, offensive, energetic ride in a world of impossible, where mens can fly and superheroes fight for freedom by blowing s**t up. Not only a punch in the face of the comic book industry, but a snarky look to the entire human race, a love letter to everything that makes us so stupid but yet so lovable. 
God, I LOVE this series. 
And I LOVE Frank Miller.
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