Special Edition Podcast

Booksplode #8 – The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Show Notes

Running Time: 01:05:14

Booksplode strikes back with a vengeance as Paul Montgomery, Josh Flanagan and Jeff Reid dissect the Dadaist oddity that is Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Published 15 years after the landmark mini-series The Dark Knight Returns, this three-issue sequel was a notorious departure in form and lucidity. We’re not going to claim to understand it entirely, but one of us with glasses might hail it one of the best and most important works of all time. It’s Josh. He kind of says that.


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  1. Come on, there’s no way the coloring isn’t intentional. The whole book is a commentary! haha. Varley is one of the best colorists of all time. It’s using the digital coloring in a bombastic garish impressionistic way. You can try to make photoshop into an oil painting (Gravnov etc.) as much as you want but this is the raw unleashed digital power!

    I’d love to see this converted from the original colored pages to a big screen, it would probably translate a lot better than it does on paper. You guys were praising The Private Eye a few weeks ago for similar things done in a much more conservative way.

    Does it really look any different than say an early Marvel comic where Peter Parker is wearing a suit make of an electric blue ink blot? Just putting that out there.

  2. The Dark Knight Strikes again was the beginning of the end. Holy terror! was the nail in the coffin.

  3. I really love a lot of Frank Miller’s work and he’s probably my favorite comic writer, but I think that at the Dark Knight Strikes Again, he had his George Lucas moment where he said “I’m Frank Miller, I can do whatever I want and it’ll be genius.” Josh seems to be trying really hard to give this book a lot of leeway. It doesn’t really matter if things are bad intentionally or incoherent. They’re still bad or incoherent.

  4. The art just looks rushed & half-assed to me. Like Miller just threw some quick rough pencils down to get it over with & outta the way. No real background details, just thrown together out of proportioned figures that look more like a page of art u’d get at a Con from some artist who’s been doing sketches for 9 hours straight & wants to be anywhere, doing anything other than drawing

  5. Oh boy, I’ve been excited for this show as I’m one of those weirdos who actually prefers DKSA to DKR. It’s purely because DKSA always makes me laugh, expands on the DCU characters in such interesting ways while kinda redeeming Superman, serves as a nice time capsule of American attitudes of its time, and has art I find to be my favorite Miller outside of Daredevil… Thanks guys, for revisiting this unsung classic!!

  6. Josh says this could be a “logical extension”. Logical is not a word I would use to describe this series.

  7. What I enjoyed most about this conversation was the varied perspectives. It was more interesting than everyone having generally the same opinion about a work.

    I went so far as to dig out and flip through my issues of DK2, but I couldn’t muster the motivation to reread them. Still, I really enjoyed your discussion.

    I liked Josh’s role as the Modern Art critic explaining why that weird, ugly painting is actually a stroke of genius, and Paul’s reaction of periodically sighing in bewilderment. It was nice to hear Jeff on a podcast as well, I hope your on-air presence becomes more frequent.

    So whatever your next booksplode subject might be, I hope it is another one where the reviewers are coming at it through significantly different points of view.

  8. This was a great discussion on the book. I was expecting a ‘this is shit’ and ‘Sentry: Fallen Sun” kind of commentary but I was surprised we didn’t. Josh’s explanations on why he liked it are very well thought out and I agree with a good amount of what he’s saying.

    For me, Strikes Again has a place in my heart because it is the second ever book I read after coming back into comics. (With Kingdom Come being my first ever….What a weird combo) This story through me for a loop because I wasn’t expecting this when reading a comic. It’s filled with such overt, political commentary and almost everyone’s voice in this is off. I never read a book with a Batman like this and it was kinda refreshing in a way. Although now reading it in All-Star Batman it’s amazing how quickly it gets tiresome.

    But there are a lot about this book that I love. I LOVE his take on Barry Allen and he gets some great lines in this book. This story also continued to make me love Captain Marvel (again, Kingdom Come helps) and he is one of the, few, sane characters in here. That sequence of him sacrificing himself is a gorgeous and evokes so many emotions since there’s a lot of 9/11 imagery going on. The art as a whole is very bizarre and it probably wasn’t the best introduction to Frank Miller. But you take away all of the political/news pundit nonsense and the superhero stuff is great.

    It sadly showcased just how insane Frank Miller is now a days but I still love reading Strikes Again when I get a chance. It’s just a shame that he couldn’t tone down him own material since then because he really has lost with me as a reader.

  9. I read The Dark Knight Strikes Again for the first time in preparation for this podcast. I tried to read it two times before, but I didn’t get far, because I thought the art and coloring were hideous. But reading it this time, years later and as a more experienced comic reader, I absolutely loved it, and it’s largely because of what Josh said: This book has personality. DC has been dull of late and this book is a display of how fun these characters can be.

    Miller stripped everything down to its essence here. The art, the coloring, I think it was all intentional. It took me a while to realize that not all the art and coloring were crappy. It seems more selective, depending on the scene in question. For the most part, the gritty, textured coloring of DKR was stripped down to mostly flatness here. Even the characters are stripped down to their pure essence, from Captain Marvel being a separate being from Billy Batson, Superman being stripped of his humanity and reaching Godhood with his daughter, Batman being pure, determined vengeance, Green Lantern being pure will incarnate.

    I loved this book, I had a grin on my face the entire way through, and I look forward to reading it again to glean more from it. It’s definitely a better paced book than DKR, too, which again, has to do with stripping everything down to its basic elements and presenting it in as raw a fashion as possible.

    We are the 20%!

  10. Josh is correct, 9/11 derailed this entire series not to mention F. Miller’s brain.

  11. Putting aside everything that has come after for Miller, I’m also one of those few who really loved this book. Granted I haven’t read this or DKR since I was a teen, so I’d be curious how it stacks up to my current sensibilities – but I always took the much-maligned coloring to be an extension of the theme. You guys mentioned things being “grotesque” – I felt like, well, basically everything aesthetically in this book was a conscious pop-art grotesquery. And I dug how that played into & against the social & superhero statements in the book.

    It’s REALLY heavy-handed, yeah. And maybe today it wouldn’t speak to me in the same way. But as an ex-punk art kid, it absolutely did then. And some of those social commentaries seem scarily more relevant today.

    Great discussion, guys. I’m glad we got three well-rounded & different takes on the material.

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