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Monday, February 13, 2006
It's Tempting to Cheer--Updated!

(Welcome, fellow Michelle Malkin readers!)

Michelle Malkin points to Frank Miller's next Batman project, which certainly sounds promising:

Miller proudly announced the title of his next Batman book, which he will write, draw and ink. Holy Terror, Batman! is no joke. And Miller doesn't hold back on the true purpose of the book, calling it "a piece of prop[a]ganda," where 'Batman kicks al Qaeda's ass."

The reason for this work, Miller said, was "an explosion from my gut reaction of what's happening now." He can't stand entertainers who lack the moxy of their '40s counterparts who stood up to Hitler. Holy Terror is "a reminder to people who seem to have forgotten who we're up against."

It's been a long time since heroes were used in comics as pure propaganda. As Miller reminded, "Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That's one of the things they're there for."

"These are our folk heroes," Miller said. "It just seems silly to chase around the Riddler when you've got Al Qaeda out there."

It could be terrific and I will probably have to give it a chance. But I'm a little leery, because Miller's also responsible for two absolutely wretched recent Batman series : DKR2, and All Star Batman and Robin. I covered the first issue of the latter series here. Suffice to say that I am not reading that set any longer; apparently the direction it has taken has been for Robin/Dick Grayson to become a serial killer (at about age 10).

Miller did write and draw the original Dark Knight Returns series back in the 1980s, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, that series was the worst thing that ever happened to Batman, as DC began molding the character to make Miller's vision of Bruce Wayne as a bitter, alcoholic loner at 50 come true.

Update: Scott, one of Mrs M's emailers comments in her post:

Oddly, Miller's hugely influential reworking of the Batman mythos in the 80's (to a darker, grittier, quasi-vigilante Batman) was intended to be a skewering of the (in Miller's eyes) crazed right-wing fundamentalist police-state Reagan era. For example, Superman was always portrayed as a simple-minded Boy Scout duped into committing war crimes for a warmongering, jingoistic America. But Miller did such a good job of attacking leftish pacifism that his work came across as an endorsement of the tough-on-crime, tough-on-commies attitude. Especially the tough on crime part.

That first part is pretty much where Miller still stood as of 2001 when DK2 came out, as you can see (click on the picture 1-2 times to enlarge so you can read it):

The angry fellow is former cub reporter Jimmy Olsen, a middle-aged, bitter leftist, as you can see. In a later revelation, it turns out that President Rickard doesn't exist at all; he's a computer animated character (a la Max Headroom), so it's reasonably safe to say that we're intended to agree with Olsen.

It's possible that Miller's a 9-11 Democrat, as Hugh Hewitt likes to describe them, someone who had the scales fall from his eyes as the towers pancaked to the ground. I did not detect any overt political messages in the more recent All Star Batman and Robin.

I'll see if I can come up with a couple panels from the original DKR to illustrate Scott's point about it being anti-Reagan, but also anti-soft on crime. There are a couple good ones.

Later: This conversation between Superman and the President shows how Miller felt about President Reagan; half evil, half amiable dunce:

On the other hand, Miller does a pretty good job of parodizing a "soft on crime" liberal psychologist here:

As is somewhat cliche in these vigilante stories, the soft on crime guy always finds out that the crooks he romanticizes are indeed quite evil.

Update II: Super Fun Power Hour connects this story with the Danish cartoons story. Good job!

And the Platypus Society speculates on a few further storylines we may see if this comic is successful, and brings up the Superman versus the Klan storyline from the 1940s radio show.

Last Update: Dave in the comments puts up a terrific quote from Miller:

Troublesome as the so-called Religious Right can be, they're generally a pretty clumsy bunch. They swing a club. 'Liberals', on the other hand, use a scalpel, and only after they've applied intellectual anesthetic. Any pain is felt much later. This makes them much more dangerous censors. Especially since most artists tend to be vulnerable to their anesthetic. The most palpable threat to free speech these days comes from the secular political left. Janet Reno, Paul Simon, all those little 'politically correct' fascists that haunt our universities, preaching that the purpose of fiction is not entertainment, but rather indoctrination. These shameless, lying, whiny scumbag baby boomer, sixties-generation spoiled brats who think they serve society by rewriting history and trying to unravel our language...they represent a much more effective and successful effort to shut down free speech and the free press than the Bible-bangers ever have."

Frank Miller, 1994.

Maybe that marks Miller as a libertarian rather than a liberal. But (you knew there had to be a but there), I spent about $6 on the first two issues of All Star Batman and Robin, and I absolutely agree with BC Monkey (also in the comments): It was nihilistic crap. I also bought the first two issues of DK2 before giving up in exasperation. Fool me once, shame on you fool me twice shame on me... and yeah, I gotta buy the first issue still.

Aaron brings the loathsome Ted Rall into it, who's considering suing Ann Coulter (if he can get the little people who read his blog to bankroll him).

Rall announced on his blog that he would look into taking legal action against Coulter if readers of his blog wanted him to -- and if they pledged the $6,000 needed to draft and file a lawsuit in New York.

"If enough 'yes' votes come in with enough serious pledges, I'll see Ann in court," wrote Rall. "If not, well, chalk up another victory for the Right."

But get the "supposed cause" that Rall's going to sue over:

Coulter reportedly said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.: "Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and The New York Times have made submissions."

Um, can we say the obvious here? If $6,000 gets donated to Rall, I suspect that $500 will get paid to the lawyers to tell him that he doesn't have a case, and $5,500 will go for incidental expenses?

Still more coverage of Batman on The Lone Elm and the Real Ugly American.

No Oil For Pacificists promises not to riot, even if the comic turns out badly.
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