Marvel Super Special 18 (September 1981)

Adapting Raiders of the Lost Ark into a comic book ought to be a no-brainer, especially with a strong creative team. And Walt Simonson’s script does have occasional highlights–he tries hard to make the stunts seem reasonable, using a lot of interior monologue for the cast–but not as many as it should. More than anything else, actually, the comic shows how movie and comic action differs and why adapting one to the other isn’t simple. Simonson includes includes a lot of action bad for comics (car chases?) but he also ignores characterizations. Indy’s a vaguely generic lead, Marion gets the same treatment……

Batman: The Dark Knight 4 (June 1986)

Miller probably could have spread this issue out over two. There’s the follow-up to the Joker’s death, there’s a bit with Superman fighting the Russians, there’s Gotham as a disaster zone. Miller gets confused. His comic’s working at cross purposes. Clark sees a connection with Bruce and Bruce doesn’t, so there’s the epic fight scene only Clark comes off more sympathetic. Bruce is working towards an end without any self-awareness. Clark has nothing but self-awareness. There’s also the series’s first third person narration. Miller uses it for Alfred at the end; it’s a mistake. It treats Alfred as disposable, which is no…

Batman: The Dark Knight 3 (May 1986)

I guess Miller liked having interior monologues so much, he gave them to everyone. Batman, Superman, Robin, the Joker, the new police commissioner. I don’t think anyone else. But there’s a lot of interior monologue. More than the media coverage. Superman’s is actually the most revelatory. Miller writes him as scared, which is sort of funny considering he’s Superman. The best monologue, in terms of writing, is probably Robin’s. She only has it for a few pages, during an action scene, and Miller is terse. Terse works for it. As for the Joker and Batman? Their monologues are about the other. Miller…

Batman: The Dark Knight 2 (April 1986)

This issue, Batman becomes less of a lead character in his own comic. Miller writes his some good interior monologues–occasionally really good. The standouts usually reveal something–like how Batman uses environment to beat the Mutant Leader or how, when delirious, he has one-sided conversations with the absent Dick Grayson. But, for the most part, it’s not Batman’s comic. Some of it is the reaction to Batman returning; there’s a lot of media talking heads going on about him. To justify Batman’s vigilante behavior, Miller then shows a lot of innocent people in peril scenes and the public’s response. Their response being shallow,…

Batman: The Dark Knight 1 (March 1986)

Miller establishes he’s telling The Dark Knight [Returns] in twelve panels a page, four columns, four rows. He quickly breaks this layout, but always for emphasis. I’d never realized how beautifully he designs the comic. It’s very cinematic, even if the actual content often isn’t visual. He implies most of the action. Batman’s return is mostly implied, the issue’s fight scene finale is all implied. Miller even implies big plot developments instead of just showing them. The result is being either inside Batman’s head–and Miller goes out of his way to show how psychologically disturbed he is from the first page–watching a…