Yeah, I'm actually going to do it again, I'm going to make one of my essay-type posts where I look at a subject seriously and discuss it. Today I'm going to talk about Frank Miller and how he seems to view America. Miller has made some amazing comic works but lately hasn't been that popular with some folk after saying some really nasty things about Occupy Wall Street--which if we are honest started out as a good idea that has now become one big mess that is mostly being ignored anyway. The thing is, the Frank Miller of today is so much different from the Frank Miller of 1987, and I think they view America in vastly different ways--ways best illustrated by two of his works.
Batman: Year One OR A Man Dressed As a Bat Fights The Rich
The only other decent person is a police officer named Jim Gordon who has been transferred to Gotham. He's middle-lower-class, dealing with a corrupt Commissioner, and miserable. The world of Batman: Year One is not pleasant. It's full of crime, its grimy, its a hard place to make a living. This is the kind of world that Occupy Wall Street probably fears America is destined for.
The book doesn't end with any big victory either, it just sort of concludes with the year coming to a close with Batman helping Gordon rescue his son from some of the elite's kidnappers. There is still evil in the world and a lot has to be done. After all, you expect the world to change in just one year of a Batman? It's very anti-climatic, it shows you can't just "win". Miller did a complete 180 degrees on all of this with Holy Terror.
Holy Terror AKA The Sorta-Batman Kills A Lot of Terrorists
Unlike Batman: Year One, this is both written and illustrated by Miller, resulting in his interesting art style and odd habit of doing black-and-white with color occasionally dashed in (sometimes for no apparent reason). Here, the bad guy is not anyone wealthy, no, it's a lot of Islamic terrorists. This is a world where America is so great, a young Islamic girl can't help but drink some beer before blowing herself up and having nails rain down on the city, whilst other terrorists fly jets into Empire City's statue of liberty analogue. This is an America where you can go to an underground base, blow up the bad guys, and you've solved terrorism. Yes, this is an America where once you catch one of those dirty Muslims (who is a terrorist of course, but they probably all are so you know, its all good) its fine to joke about how his name is probably Mohammed and then torture him until he tells you what you want, because here in America torture is now apparently okay.
And So Here We Are
From 1987 when Batman: Year One first came out as individual comics to the first printing of Holy Terror in September 2011--which it stresses to point out was in September, as it wants you to be aware of how its 10 years after when we were attacked by terrorists in real-life--Frank Miller has changed a a lot. From just looking at these two books you see a Miller who has gone from a young and perhaps liberal view to an older and highly conservative outlook. Also, Batman: Year One is much better than Holy Terror, but that isn't due to politics so much as how it just has a lot more care put in its craft.
|Frank Miller circa 1982, shortly before some of his huge works.
|Frank Miller in what I believe to be a picture from 2012
What's the lesson in all this? I'm not sure there is one besides the fact that people's views change, at times dramatically. Also, the way Miller's views changed, people who once identified with him now hate him and others who found him annoying in the 1980s when he was doing the "Strip AIDS" fundraiser and other then-highly liberal things probably now love him and would invite him to a Tea Party rally. Things just really change with time, I suppose.