Frank Miller: washed out?

Like many of you, I’m sure, I was a big fan of Frank Miller in the 80’s on the advent of The Dark Knight Returns, Electra: Assassin and Daredevil: Born Again. It seemed that anything he touched was amaxzingly well plotted, dense, and human. What couldn’t he do?

Forward 20 years later, and most of his new stuff is dreck. Ultra-violent, preachy, and with generous helpings of dei ex machinae. I’ve just finished his The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and it’s just lousy. Even the art isn’t very good. His formula seems to be:

  1. Take well-used but discarded super-heroes/villains and give them new life
  2. Have them fight some Reagan-esque/Nixon-esque/Bush-esque government monopoly
  3. Preach about people/revolution/whatever
  4. Kill some heroes off. Shocking.
  5. Allow the heroes to get out of certain doom/annihilation by dei ex machinae that the reader couldn’t have seen coming

Yawn. Jettison relationships, add more hard-core violence. The further he goes with the Sin City crap, the more he loses me. I’m sure I’m in the mi9nority here, however.

I kinda agree with this. I think Miller still has some power to his stories, but I never thought of him as the same kind of powerhouse as Alan Moore was.

Miller gets a lot of mileage because he’s double trouble, both artist and writer. But I think there’s plenty of better writers out there.

Still, I don’t want to understimate his contribution. He’s created great stuff for years and years, and he’s never terrible. Well, at least as long as he’s not writing Robocop movies he’s not.

If you are, I’m in the minority with you. While I think The Dark Knight, Daredevil: Born Again and The 300 have some merit, I find the vast majority of his work to be simply shitful. Sin City in particular is pretty much the perfect distillation of an adolescent male’s violent, sexualized rantings. Its high regard in both print and film versions are a complete mystery to me.

If you are, I’m in the minority with you. While I think The Dark Knight, Daredevil: Born Again and The 300 have some merit, I find the vast majority of his work to be simply shitful. Sin City in particular is pretty much the perfect distillation of an adolescent male’s violent, sexualized rantings. Its high regard in both print and film versions are a complete mystery to me.[/quote]

I agree with both of you as well. Frankly, I think his best work was his early Daredevil run and, in particular, his collaboration with Claremont on the Wolverine mini-series. I liked 300, liked Ronin, liked Dark Knight - and at the time they were quite novel in style – but his lack has always lacked the depth of Alan Moore, for instance, and his latest Dark Knight was truely abysmal.

If you are, I’m in the minority with you. While I think The Dark Knight, Daredevil: Born Again and The 300 have some merit, I find the vast majority of his work to be simply shitful. Sin City in particular is pretty much the perfect distillation of an adolescent male’s violent, sexualized rantings. Its high regard in both print and film versions are a complete mystery to me.[/quote]

I agree with both of you as well. Frankly, I think his best work was his early Daredevil run and, in particular, his collaboration with Claremont on the Wolverine mini-series. I liked 300, liked Ronin, liked Dark Knight - and at the time they were quite novel in style – but his lack has always lacked the depth of Alan Moore, for instance, and his latest Dark Knight was truely abysmal.[/quote]

Agreed completely. He really isn’t worth reading beyond the stuff Desslock mentioned, you will get far more mileage out of other authors (like Moore).

Another yes vote here. Where were you bastards when I was criticizing Sin City the movie?

D’you have a link to the thread it was in? (Or the thread title?) I want to read that!

Just do a search of the Movies forum. Plenty of Sin City stuff comes up.

Not to dogpile but, yes, I agree as well.

What I found fascinating about the Sin City movie was that it was such a perfect translation to the screen that it managed to catch all of the strengths and weaknesses of the comic flawlessly. As a comic, Sin City was visually arresting but the novelty wore off quick as it became clear that this was noir as written by a 3rd grader. For a comic that’s death. For a two hour action movie, less so. Sin City isn’t going to win any Oscars and one can pretend that Miller wasn’t completely earnest but was in fact going for a “comic book” version of noir.

I guess considering how spot on even now some of his stuff was (I need to read The 300), I’m rather shocked and still rather disappointed Miller hasn’t, well, grown. Especially with the likes of Allen Moore sharing some of the spotlight.

Also, I think we all wanted Sin City to be good and revolutionary. Heck, we all wanted From Hell and LoEG to be great as well. And sometimes (with the SW flicks as well), it’s really hard to admit that these films, style aside, really blew.

I liked the Sin City movie a lot, because it was a fun, stylish, bloody cartoon. But I can’t stand Miller. All his stuff is one-note, overstated crap. The Sin City comics are so cliched that they read like parodies of noir. To me, they represent the worst of modern comics – all flash and big pictures with scripts that could be written out on napkins. I don’t find the Sin City books to be stylish on the page, either. There’s no depth, unlike the movie, which added a technical sheen that gave everything more impact. The books were just boring black and white (as opposed to the vibrant b-and-w in From Hell, which added so much to the seaminess of the setting, the layed plot, etc.) with the occasional color scribble.

Even the first Dark Knight hasn’t aged well, IMHO. And the sequel was absolutely fucking awful. Unreadable garbage. Horrible art, dumb script that reached its nadir with Superman and Wonder Woman getting it on in the sky. No interest at all in reading Ronin or 300. I would like to check out Miller’s Daredevil, though. Starting buying the book in the 80s just after Miller left his first run with the book, IIRC.

What about Batman: Year One Brett? Did you like that?

Anyone holding out any hope for his run on the All Stars Batman line?

I actually am holding out some hope regarding All-Star Batman and Robin. I loved his take on Batman 20 years ago but it’s old and cliched now. I’m hoping he will reverse the trend that has reduced Batman to a prick loner. I will say his follow up to Dark Knight Returns was a stinking pile of shit.

Yeah. There’s plenty of good Batman out there, but I’ll take Morrison’s Arkham Asylum any day.

"He looked at the dollhouse and the dollhouse

looked

back."

Arkham Asylum is still awesome.

And yeah, I agree that The Dark Knight Returns hasn’t aged well. Year One is still a good read though.

I haven’t reread any of Miller’s Daredevil work recently but I remember the whole run being excellent. There’s something about Daredevil that seems to bring out the best in writers. I think because it’s a gritty, character driven crime comic more than a superhero comic. (The exception to this rule seems to be Kevin Smith. I hated his run on Daredevil. It felt like a throwback to the all flash, no substance era of comics.)

Arkham is awesome. Dark Knight 2 was a big freaking disappointment. Also, strangely enough, it seems that drawing Sin City has completely fucked with his abillities. Anyone notice a severe decline in his artwork after doing Sin City for a while?

Sorry, forgot that one. Yeah, I like Year One a lot. So much so that I forget that Miller wrote it. Still re-read it once a year or so.

I’ll go against the grain here. I really enjoy Frank Miller’s work. Ronin, Batman Year One and Daredevil: Born Again are among my favorite storylines ever. I agree that his earlier work was more engaging, but even his current efforts are solid.

The author I cannot stomach at all is Alan Moore. I’ve read several of his works and find them to be very unsatisfying and slightly pretentious. The only thing I found to be even remotely interesting was Watchmen, and that was hampered by mundane, cramped artwork. In fact, that may be one of my biggest complaints with Alan Moore’s work- his stories are usually coupled with uninspired artwork.

The only thing I found to be even remotely interesting was Watchmen, and that was hampered by mundane, cramped artwork.

Say it isn’t so! Dave Gibbons is a master, I tell you!

I guess by “solid” I’m asking for more here than “Written and Illustrated by Frank Miller.” I agree with your earlier likes.

Wow. That’s really all I have to say. I can’t imagine that you could consider LoEG unsatisfying either in writing or artwork, but to each his own.