The Dark Knight Returns, Responds, and then Rambles off.

I realize that this is being posted very late, I was in a small war with Agora and Agora fights dirty.  But e-mails have cleared the way for this delayed responce to Tuesdays Carrie based presentation.  Looking at it now it seems less like a responce and more like thoughts fed through a Ramblematic-5000.  In that vein, enjoy:

This is a response to the presentation on the Dark Knight Returns in today’s class and the discussion around it. During the presentation the character of Carrie Kelley was the focus, a strong female character (which she most certainly is). However, on the very same page used as the prime example in the presentation, page 89 in the edition I’m using, we also have the picture of a woman in the news wearing a shirt saying “all this and brains too” whom seems to be only interested in the perception of the mayor as opposed to the way things actually are. The style that the woman is presented in screams 1980s but it also, like nearly all portrayals of the media in the Dark Knight Returns, seems farcical. It always seems to me as sort of an example of feminist movement as a failure, or as a woman not belonging in the man’s world. I’m probably being colored by my familiarity with Miller’s later writing (300 having virtually none, and Sin City having none that aren’t battered, a whore, or a soon-to-be-killed lesbian) but I certainly wouldn’t call it misogynistic either. Rather I think its an example of opposition.

Miller loves oppositions. This entire graphic novel is full of them. We have the character of Dr. Wolper whom exists to espouse the ideology of the hypodermic model of media consumption. In the ludicrous level of naivete that Miller gives him, coupled with the constant farcical scrunched facial expressions leads one to believe he’s a simple attack on that mode of thought, especially seeing as how it nearly destroyed the comics industry several decades prior. But then we are presented with the crazy gunman and the thug without a purpose on pages 89 and 90 as being clear examples that the media coverage, if not directly influencing their behavior is at least exposing them to the concepts (or person as the case may be) that is. Furthermore, we have a reactionary, vigilante force that is the Batman (seriously though, the Wayne fortune would probably be better spent on education and rehabilitation than squandered on crime fighting gadgets) as an example of justice and civic virtue, but the president whom built his reputation on such values (or perceived to have such values at any rate) is made to be the fool throughout the piece. This is clearly a younger Miller open to embracing the Modernist theory on multiple and potentially equally valid viewpoints (something that is less obvious in his later works).

However there is still on opposition that isn’t quite representational fair, the only positive African American mentioned is Detective Dale, whom is never actually seen on panel, and the only other African Americans in the first two chapters are a pimp that’s cutting a whore and a street corner conman. I think I went above 250 words if that’s alright.

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3 thoughts on “The Dark Knight Returns, Responds, and then Rambles off.”

  1. You missed the newscaster on page 13. Miller is definitely a dinosaur of the late 20th century but he does
    Try to paint a fair and balanced
    Picture given the time frames he works within. He could be criticized for how he sexualized certain women, or how right wing he can be at times. However I think mr. Miller tries not to paint a biased picture. You’ll notice that most of the criminals in batman are white–even the petty thugs.
    What is interesting is how the mayor’s aide goes about picking the commissioner’s replacement

  2. To level the playing field on Miller and women, here’s a link to a page about Dave Sim.
    Dave Sim is one of the early independent publishers and used to be known for how well he wrote women characters. However he went on tangent about women in the letters page of one his comics and the rest was history.

    Here ya go:

    1. Re: Dave Sim. His misogny is also influanced by his conversion to Christianity, in so much as he adheres to the “ass before the wife” aspects of the faith.

      Re: Frank Miller. To be fair Miller is actually one of my favorite writer/artists working the field so I didn’t mean to come off as too hard on him. He does have the very strong non-sexualized characters of Commissioner Yindel and Carrie Kelley (you could also add Lana Lang but I didn’t count her as she was a Superman character and not one of Miller’s creations). You could possible add Lola the reporter for her willingness to stand up the FCC and invoke the image of Superman, but than her dismissal of the dangers of a nuclear warhead just led me to believe she was just stupid. I was more than likely looking for the sexist reading of DKR because I had just re-read several volumes of Sin City and it always bothered me that the only woman who weren’t helpless victims in those novels where whore or lipstick lesbians and conformed to several male-driven sexual roles/tropes. I also am reading the works of August Strindberg, a self-described misogynist; and genius playwright.

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