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Two Great Tastes?

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Although it doesn’t exactly fit my own definition of “news”, the latest buzz among comic fans is the story that Frank Miller is about to meet up with Zack Snyder to discuss plans for the next Superman film (which, not incidentally, will also feature Batman).

Personally, I am not a fan of Zack Snyder’s work. I find it strikes me a lot like Paul Verhoeven’s did, which is to say that there are individual elements about it that I like (in Snyder’s case it is his undeniable visual flair), but the work as a whole either leaves me cold or repulses me entirely.  I did marvel at how well he transferred large chunks of Watchmen to the screen virtually unchanged from the comic, but in the end the movie was just too violent and made too many bad choices to work for me. In his defense, I feel Watchmen should never have been made in the first place, as what made the work great in the first place was intrinsically tied to the comic medium. I saw no more need for a Watchmen movie than I did a Citizen Kane comic book. But while I could cut him some slack for Watchmen, I cannot forgive Sucker Punch. That movie just made me feel dirty for watching it.

Frank Miller is a little more complicated for me. I used to be a fan of his work. There was a time when I adored his work as ranked Dark Knight Returns as the top comic series of its era. However, the last Miller book I enjoyed was 300 and after that his work seemed to rapidly devolve into self-parody. At least, I really hoped it was self-parody, because it became so drenched in machismo and testosterone that it would have been a scarier thought that Miller might have meant it as serious work.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again was just awful in every respect. Even Lynn Varley’s colors were so garish and headache inducing that I wondered if they hadn’t set out to deliberately make the worst possible book. Miller followed DK2 with All Star Batman and Robin, which I did actually enjoy, although probably not for the right reasons. After reading an offhand remark from Warren Ellis that the book was better appreciated as comedy, I started to see the book as a biting parody of “gritty” super hero books. Unfortunately I had no real idea if Miller actually intended it that way.

What further muddied his work for me was the fact that all these elements that now made his books seem ridiculously over-the-top were actually present in his earlier books, albeit in more subtle doses. So while Dark Knight Returns definitely still has merits, its weaker elements seem much more overt in light of DK2.

All of which brings me back to the “news” that opened this post. The little blurb about Miller doesn’t mean that he will be involved in the writing or making of the next Superman film. Should it actually come to pass that he IS involved, who can say if his influence will be positive or negative? Both Snyder and Miller seem to have many similar traits in their work, but unfortunately in this case I don’t think we are talking about two great tastes that taste great together.

I’m worried that in this case it is more like two difficult to swallow pills that might actually combine to kill the patient. Only time will tell, of course.

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