Thursday, December 26, 2013

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Macy McDonald


1. The illustrations in this book are not exactly visually pleasing. The style is gritty and the colors are contrasting, but not vibrant. The illustrations are more focused on creating a certain effect, one I find both eerie and disturbing. It’s also one that’s not focused on reality. The characters are frequently drawn in shades that reflect their moods, for example, on page 22 Batman is brooding and he is cast in the light of a television yet he appears slightly blue for some reason. This reflects the depressing nature of his reflection. In one of the many television flashes we see a reporter who is frequently blind to the real issues in Gotham and she is depicted without eyes. This kind of symbolism is emphasized over realism and the illustrations add a level of complexity to the rhetoric.

2. This story is one that would be extremely difficult to tell in any form other than a graphic novel. The frequent interruptions from the newscasters would be irritating in a film and awkward in a traditional novel. The shifting viewpoints would be difficult to handle films and novels as well. The fact that the Batman gets beat up several times and only manages to win when he fights intelligently instead of flashy and young would also be hard to sell in a film. Having the story told in a graphic novel allows a number of different perspectives.

3. There really isn’t a clear central narrator in the story, although there is narration. There is a limited third person narrator that appears woven into the story, but the narrator frequently speaks from the perspective of whichever character is featured at that point. This is not to be confused with the characters voice however, which appears inside the frames in boxes. The newscasters themselves operate as a form of narration by keeping the reader up to date on public opinion and the crimes currently levied against Batman.

4. One of the most pivotal segments of this novel for me is when Superman averts the bomb set to detonate in a highly populated area. He allows it to detonate in a dessert, but then he seems completely disgusted with himself and absolutely impressed (not in a good way) with the destruction that humans can cause. He speaks directly to the earth and calls her “mother” he begs her to let him reach the sun. In the illustration we can see him shriveling like a prune in the electromagnetic storm and fire that have resulted from the detonation. He suit is starting to bag from the muscle loss and even the boxes that his speak appear in have faded to a very light blue, showing his loss in power and making it seem as if he is whispering. This occurs on page 177 and 178. On 178 we see Superman acknowledge earth as his home his “mother” and his begging proves her superiority. Superman is such a great hero that the general populace isn’t even allowed to know that he exists anymore, he is the greatest hero on the planet and with the help of the sun is virtually indestructible. In these frames he acknowledges the power of earth as greater than himself and it sends the message that if Superman respects the planet then mankind should do so as well. 

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