Hello Bat-fans, Zach here, and I would like to introduce you to a new segment I like to call “Creator Spotlight”. Twice a month, I will write a lengthy piece about a creator who has strong ties to the character of Batman. Let me present you with our first spotlight, one of my personal favorites, the legendary writer/artist Frank Miller.
Frank Miller is considered to be one of the most prolific and influential comic book creators of all time. Miller has left his mark on some of the most prominent characters in the comic book industry. Miller is praised for his work on Daredevil, Wolverine, Sin City, 300, Spawn, Elektra, Give Me Liberty, and of course, Batman. Miller’s Batman work includes; Batman: Year One, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again and his most recent work on All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Miller also wrote the Spawn/Batman crossover in 1994.
Frank Miller’s name has always been associated with two characters, Daredevil and Batman. Miller initially started out in the industry with brief stints with Gold Key Comics and DC Comics. Miller would make his name writing the character Daredevil, who, at the time was on the verge of cancellation. Miller’s first encounter with the dark knight was in 1980, where he drew a Batman Christmas story in DC Holiday Special, in which he had the opportunity of working with another significant Batman creator, Dennis O’ Neil. After leaving Marvel Comics, Miller wrote and penciled Ronin, his creator owned book published by DC Comics. Miller then began writing and penciling Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Nobody could predict the impact that Miller was about to have on the Batman mythos.
In 1986, DC published Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which is often to be considered the comic to bring the grim and gritty Batman. The Dark Knight Returns depicted a new kind of Batman, an old and bitter Bruce Wayne brought out of retirement to stop the latest up rise in crime and chaos. Miller also did all the penciling for the title, which is in my opinion, if anyone else had penciled this book, that special something would have been lost. Klaus Janson did the inking, who had previously collaborated with Miller on Daredevil. The Dark Knight Returns was the first Batman storyline to break away from the previous depictions of the character. In a lot of ways, it revolutionized the way Batman would be written and changed the medium of comics as well.
Following the success of The Dark Knight Returns, Miller began a new Batman project. Batman: Year One was an updated origin, but not a reboot of the character. Year One ran the main Batman comic book series from issue #404 to #407 in 1987. Miller wrote the story while the great David Mazzucchelli provided the artwork. The result was an instant classic. With Miller’s action packed and smoothly paced storyline, Mazzucchelli was able to provide us with some of the greatest artwork that we have ever seen in a Batman comic book. To this day, I still truly believe that Batman: Year One is still the greatest Batman masterpiece.
After a fourteen year break from the character, Miller return to write and pencil the sequel to DKR, The Dark Knight Strikes Again in 2001. The fan reception was rather negative. However, can you truly blame Miller? Fans were bugging him for years to put out a sequel. And while the consensus opinion was that Miller should have left it alone, I still think the final product was quite enjoyable and presented the readers with a very noir like storyline that I thought was rather clever.
After Miller’s negative reviews of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, he once again stepped away from the character, but only for 4 years this time. Miller returned to DC to collaborate with artist Jim Lee on All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder in 2005. The initial fan response was explosive; issue #1 was the number one selling single issue for the year of 2005. However, after constant delays and the controversial characterizations, the book has been received rather harshly. Many fans complain about the bitter characterization of Batman, as well as the lack of action that the issues have contained. I have found this book to be fun and I consider this to be Miller’s form of Batman satire. In my opinion, he seems to be mocking the industry’s dramatic shift in the late 1980’s and how dark comics became. Jim Lee’s artwork remains to be fantastic and while there have only been ten issues since 2005; more are expected to be on the way sometime in the future.
There is no denying the impact that Miller has had on Batman over the years. Miller’s work on Batman set up the style and tone of the Batman comics from the mid 1980’s to present day. He explored the darker side of the character that no one had ever really done before. Much has been said about Miller’s later Batman work, but I cannot think of any other writer I would want writing a Batman comic out of continuity. I definitely agree that Miller has changed over the years, but all writers do. He remains to be one of the most influential creators in the comic industry. His innovative and controversial style will be echoed by comic fans and fellow creators forever.
“Who the hell do you think I am? I’m the goddamn Batman.”
-Batman, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder
Written by Frank Miller
Well bat-fans, I hope you enjoyed this week’s Creator Spotlight on the one and only Frank Miller. Look for the next Creator Spotlight which will be on the great Jim Aparo. Tune in next time, Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Blog.
Posted by Zach