10. Aug 2012 | Images © Frank Miller, Klaus Janson (ink), Lynn Varley (colors); |
When Frank Miller initiated the return of one of the great superheroes of the US comic book industry in 1986, he caused a landslide. "The Dark Knight Returns" was going to be the first comic book ever to be noticed by mainstream media, at the same time completely raising the standards for comics in the 1980s and decades to come. His cooperation with Lynn Varley added a lot to the creation and establishment of a new look and feel in mainstream comic books. Inspired mostly by European illustrators, Varley used different techniques like guache when coloring "The Dark Knight", thus adding more sublte colour tones and an artistic touch to the story – an effect quite unique at that time. Her fine arts background made her experiment and choose new combinations and colour schemes producing strong effects perceiving the comic page rather like a canvas. Frank Miller added film related techniques in storytelling and developed his Batman character from highly admired saviour of the world to psychopath extraordinaire: one that has to be brought down. For 80s standards this had to come as a shock to a lot of readers. It is a genuine Frank Miller feature that he blames society for this kind of developement: sick views and degenerate politicians declaring violence a remedy for everything that goes wrong. I think he may have been the first one to be so rude and put it this way, offering new ways to look at a future generations of "heroes" that can't be labeled simply "good" or "bad" anymore. His choice of iconic Superman, representing America's "clean conscience", to lower himself and bring down Batman in the end, is more than suitable to overthrow the whole concept of superheroes of previous times. Opinions differ concerning the pencils and inking artwork though. What some find compelling is harshly criticized by other: Miller's style and even the inkings of highly acclaimed Klaus Janson often seem sloppy and anatomical perfection appears improvable at some points. Still: Frank Miller no doubt joined genius Alan Moore (Watchmen) in the making of comic book history with his "Dark Knight".