The Dark Knight Strikes Again Part 3
May 31, 2010
The comic that dares to ask "how much lower can Frank Miller go with his Batman depiction?" The answer: much.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (looks up in thought) Say... (takes out a pocketwatch from his coat and looks at it) It's–
(Suddenly, Linkara jumps up and runs out of the room. After a beat, however, Linkara is pushed back into the room; he falls down on the futon)
Pollo: (offscreen) Just do it, Linkara.
(Linkara sighs heavily and rolls his eyes as he again takes out his pocketwatch)
Linkara: (grudgingly) It's Miller time.
("Miller Time" title is displayed)
Linkara: Welcome once again to "Miller Time", where we look at the very worst of comic book writer and artist Frank "I-can't-direct-a-movie-to-save-my-life" Miller.
(Shots of "The Dark Knight Strikes Again Part 2" are shown)
Linkara (v/o): It's a very special "Miller Time", too: we finally get to bring "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" to a close. When last we left our, quote-unquote, "hero", he had hijacked a concert of anti-establishment webcam strippers who dress up as superheroes to try to overthrow the evil regime of Lex Luthor and Brainiac, even though he proved he can jump right into Lex's friggin' headquarters and beat him up whenever he wants to! Oh, but let's not forget that Wonder Woman got to set the women's rights movement back by about a hundred years by her implication that Superman either raped her or simply that she was taken as his property.
Linkara: Ohhh... (singing to the Meow Mix jingle) Whores, whores, whores, whores, / Whores, whores, whores, whores, / Whores, whores, whores, whores, / Prostitutes!
Linkara (v/o): You know what's really sad, too? Someone sent me the link to Frank Miller's website, and he's actually got intelligent, in-depth, and fascinating articles about comics and movies.
Linkara: I don't get it! When the man's writing about comics, he seems eloquent and interesting. When he's actually writing the comics themselves, he's John Norman, author of the "Gor" novels! So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The Dark Knight Strikes Again Part 3" and finally put this thing to rest.
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" playing in the background; cut to a closeup of the comic cover)
Linkara (v/o): Well, our cover's not that bad, considering what we got last time. Man, remember how excited I was over that fist in part one? Huzzah, Mr. Miller; Batman's growly face. Your boundless imagination simply leaps off the page with a cover like this. (the comic opens to the first page) We open to... uh, Gumby?
Gumby-like creature: DAD! There's a honking big quarkshow streaming into the living room!
Linkara: I have no idea what that is, but it instantly sounds better than this.
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, the daddy Gumby is being contacted by Batman.
Batman: Check it out, old buddy. You've missed a lot.
Linkara: (as Batman) Lost had its finale while you were gone.
Linkara (v/o): The revolution is on, as we see lots of people yelling things, which I guess is supposed to be inspiring or something. Oh, looky, we can see Gumby's ass in all its cubist details, along with Gumby's wife's boobs, which I think are supposed to be covered by Pasties, but considering the rest of them seem to naked, I wouldn't be surprised if this is full-on nudity in this thing.
She-Gumby: So that's your "Bruce."
Gumby: Yeah, that's him. He's lost weight. And he looks happy. That can't mean anything good.
Linkara (v/o): "Happy"?! He's got no expression on his face at all! Anyway, he shows him the battle, including Captain Marvel getting tossed around.
Batman: This is the world you turned your back on, pal. These are the people you abandoned.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Really? A superhero stops crimefighting and people are dying! What a shock!
Linkara (v/o): Gumby declares that he has to leave, his wife and son supporting him. Oh, it turns out that Gumby is Green Lantern.
Narrator: He used to need a ring. He used to need a lantern. Now he is one.
Linkara: One what? One lantern or one ring?
Linkara (v/o): By the way, this is supposed to be Hal Jordan, and yet he's got black hair like Kyle Rayner. We cut back to Earth, where Wonder Woman is trying to encourage Captain Marvel into turning back into Billy Batson for a while to rest up. However, Captain Marvel refuses.
Captain Marvel: Besides, I never turned into Billy. A lot of people got that wrong. What happened was, me and Billy, we switched places.
Linkara (v/o): Um... no, you didn't. Well, okay, in some stories that's how it worked.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of a "Shazam" comic)
Linkara (v/o): Like the excellent "Shazam: The Monstrous Society of Evil" miniseries. But the difference here? "THE MONSTROUS SOCIETY OF EVIL" DIDN'T SUCK!!
(Cut back to the Dark Knight comic)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, this is actually a pretty well-written sequence, with him holding up... uh, I dunno, trees that have the Photoshop noise filter on them?
Captain Marvel: Where's a dream go when you wake up and you can't remember it? Nowhere. Give everybody my best. It's been nice... existing.
Wonder Woman: Say the WORD, warrior! Go out with a LION'S ROAR!
Captain Marvel: SHAZAM!!
Linkara: Well, I hope you enjoyed the only good sequence in this comic. (holds up hand) It's all downhill... (stops, confused, then raises his hand higher in the air) It's all down-mountain from here.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, after Captain Marvel dies, it's back to satire with the news correspondents, who say... Wait, is that the lead singer from the Eurythmics?
(Cut to a clip of the music video for the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams")
Annie Lennox: (singing) Sweet dreams are made of this / Who had a mind to disagree...
(Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): We then get to see the Superchix and dear Lord, it hurts every time I say that. Apparently, they're arguing with one another over the fact that the superhero fashion is in and WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?! However, Super Manga Giant Big News... Ugh... Pills... Need pills... says that we need to hear from Batman. Brucie boy is in the shadow of a modern art painting as he explains what they're trying to do.
Batman: We aren't here to rule.
Linkara: Oh, don't worry about that; you don't rule at all.
Batman: We aren't here to bring chaos or anarchy. We're here to end the reign of criminals. Luthor. Brainiac. This is only the beginning. Your days are numbered.
Linkara: (as Batman) They're numbered one through 31. (beat) We're very organized like that.
Batman: You can't fight us--and you can't find us, we strike like lightning-- and we melt into the night like ghosts.
Linkara: (wearing a pair of sunglasses) Preach on, you crazy hep cat. (snaps fingers)
Linkara (v/o): We cut to two weeks later.
Narrator: Metropolis. The city of dreams.
Linkara: So, Batman's plan of making a bunch of idiots dress up in tights to stage a rebellion against Luthor basically resulted in the city being reduced to rubble and deserted. Who's surprised?
Linkara (v/o): Supergirl and Superman are going through the wreckage of the city, the noise filter still covering everything. Yeah, I get that Miller is going for some sort of gritty feel to everything, but instead, with the disjointed backgrounds and stylized people, it just makes it feel like I'm reading "Silent Hill: Dying Inside" again.
Superman: (narrating) Countless dead. Atomized. Countless loved ones. Including Perry. And James.
Linkara: (listlessly and monotone) Oh, dear, how ever shall we live in a world without Jimmy Olsen interrupting talk shows and ranting nonsensically for a few minutes?
Superman: (narrating) And Lois. Lois. Good-bye.
Linkara: You know, you didn't seem to care much for Lois when you and Wonder Woman banging in the sky!
Linkara (v/o): Brainiac sends a message to Supergirl, saying that if she doesn't surrender to him, Kandor will die, but she doesn't know what Kandor is and asks Superman about it. They go flying and... Oh, thanks, Frank, a city with half of it in smoky ruins. Yeah, this one came out in July of 2002, so I'm sure this did wonders for the people still recovering from 9/11. And yeah, I know Frank Miller was there on 9/11 and it helped shape his political opinions, but seriously, you don't use that kind of imagery less than a year after it happened! Oh, but you see, this is actually part of his grand political statement that he's trying to make that has nothing to do with Batman or any Dark Knight striking! Perhaps more than once even.
Talking head: Those people in Metropolis should just get over it. The rest of the country's moved on. ...Yes, I am from San Francisco. Why do you ask?
Linkara: (smiling) All the subtlety of an elephant singing "Ave Maria" while doing the cancan, our Mr. Miller.
Supergirl: So how about sex?
Linkara: (covering his head in his hands) Sure, why not? Let's just add incest into this while we're at it.
Linkara (v/o): Nah, just kidding. Supergirl doesn't understand a lot of Earth culture and terms because her mother didn't want to tell her about them, so she figures she should start there, with sex.
Superman: Never with Terrans. They're fragile.
Linkara: (massaging his face) Superman has perfect control over his strength. That's how he doesn't pull off a doorknob when he's walking into a room!
Linkara (v/o): Supergirl wonders why they don't just take over the world since the humans do such a crappy job of running it, but Superman says that'll just make them the bad guys. Oh, but then Batman talks to him.
Batman: You're using circular logic-- like you always do, Clark. Working backward from a dumbass conclusion. Repeating whatever Ma and Pa told without giving it a damn thought.
Linkara: Is Batman arguing that Superman should take over the world?! That he should enslave mankind?! It's once again an example of character inconsistency. Frank Miller doesn't think Batman and Superman should be friends, so he puts them at odds, even when what they're arguing makes no sense!
Linkara (v/o): Unless, of course, Frank Miller is advocating that fascism is good... which seems to be a common critique of his work from what I've seen. Anyway, Batman explains that he's communicating with the two, thanks to something Ray Palmer put in his ear back at the end of part one. He also figures out that Luthor and Brainiac are holding Kandor hostage, and that's why Supes has been working for them. He tells the two that they work for him now and that they're going to do everything in their power to get Kandor back. He momentarily grimaces and tells them it's just a power surge, but Supergirl tells her father that he's lying and that he's dying. We cut to Bruce... uh, floating, I guess, on a splash page with tubes hooked up to him, part of how he was communicating with the two. Oh, and lookie, we have a lens flare in the background! Can you believe that Frank Miller still gets work anymore? Oh, goody, more satire: Superchix arguing, and there's a little girl and a little boy talking on the news!
Linkara: (scarcely able to contain his anger) WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY, FRANK?! WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS MINISERIES?!? (drops comic) WHY ARE THEY MAKING ME REVIEW THIS?! (lunges at the camera) WHY?!? SOMEBODY SEND HELP!!! GAAAAAAA–
(Suddenly, the feed cuts off, replaced by an Indian head test pattern, noise and all, accompanied by the phrase "Please Stand By"; cut back to Linkara sitting dazedly on the couch with his clothes, hat and glasses all disheveled)
Linakra: You know, people often ask me how I can cope with such horrible comics. Well, it's all thanks to the help of Beppo, the invisible monkey! (looks and points offscreen) Isn't that right, Beppo? (beat, then back to camera) Beppo says "yes".
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, there's another bit where an orphanage gets turned into a genetic engineering lab, but like everything else, it's pointless. Oh, and did I mention that Green Arrow and The Question start arguing Randian objectivism versus whatever flavor of liberalism Green Arrow is arguing now? Aren't they both trying to stop Luthor?! Why are they having an argument on the news about this crap in the middle of a cultural and military revolution?! Carrie Kelley meets up with... uh, Christabella? No, wait, it's Saturn Girl, or at least an earlier version of the character, since the real Saturn Girl is from the future and this one says she's borrowing the name since the future one hasn't been born yet and...
Linkara: Back to the bottle! (takes a swig from a bottle wrapped in brown paper)
Linkara (v/o): Saturn Girl sees visions of the future and warns Carrie Kelley that the one who looks like the Joker is going to come after her and that "he hates her more than anybody." However, Kelly is disbelieving of this since she killed him two weeks ago. We now flashback to... two weeks ago... Wait, didn't we jump ahead by two weeks?! What's the point of having a flashback here?! Why not just put it in before you jumped ahead two weeks?!
(Cut to a panel from part 1)
Linkara (v/o): For that matter, why is she killing someone when, in part 1, she was berating a guy for using lethal force?!
Linkara: (waving dismissively) You know what? You know what? Screw it. I'm done being angry at this thing. It's not worth my anger. I'm taking this garbage in stride from now on.
Linkara (v/o): The military releases helicopters to Gotham to try to... uh... um... Anyway, Superman blows them up, saying Lara was right: the power is theirs to use, may the power protect them, I have the power... Oh, whatever! It really took you this long to figure it out? Supergirl goes to Brainiac in Siberia and tells him she'll surrender to him if Kandor is spared. Brainiac hooks her up with cables all over her, making me think for a second that this is going to turn into tentacle hentai. And why not? He already decided to lovingly outline the curvature of her ass every time we see her from the back. Oh, and by the way, they keep referring to Kandor as a "her", making this statement all the creepier...
Supergirl: Kandor. Let me see her. Let me touch her.
Linkara: (listlessly) Really, Frank? Sexualizing a city again? (looks offscreen) I told you guys this was too soon after the Spirit review!
Linkara (v/o): However, Batman's plan goes into action as Supergirl holds the city and then sheds a single tear which contains Ray Palmer. We cut to Luthor, who has captured Batman. How?
Batman: (narrating) They caught me trying a clumsy break-in.
Linkara: Hey, you know what you should've done, Batman? Crash your Batjet into his headquarters. Things seemed to work wonders the last time you did it.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and wouldn't it have been nice to actually show your capture, as opposed to wasting a few pages on parodies of people I don't recognize? So, yeah, Batman is being held and imprisoned inside jello.
(Cut to a clip of Ghostbusters 2)
Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray): Oh, come on, there's always room for jello.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Luthor explains that he has orbital space cannons that he's used before to decimate the Fortress of Solitude and the rain forests where Hawkman and Hawkgirl used to preside. He plans to use them to level Metropolis because... he's evil and there's no good reason for him to be doing it. In addition, he's also got orbiting nukes and devices intended to cause massive earthquakes.
Linkara: Hey, Brucie, feeling stupid yet about not taking him down when you had the chance?
Linkara (v/o): We cut to Ohio, where someone else is taking up a superhero mantle and is standing awkwardly and shoving her ass out. To my irritation, she's dressed as Big Barda, all-around badass and ass-kicker extraordinaire.
Talking head: Former porn star Hot Gates, now calling herself "Big Barda," today declared herself dictator of Columbus, Ohio!
Linkara: Frank, how is it you continue to find new ways to piss me off on every page of this garbage? Oh, and calling her (makes "air quotes") "Hot Gates", probably referencing 300? (chuckles) Well, all I've got to say to that is while I was aiding the invasion of Molossia, Benzaie basically explained that 300 is about constipation.
(Cut to Benzaie sitting in a car (driven by Justin Carmichael) as they go off to film Kickassia)
Benzaie: You know, you had this dank spot where the Greeks and those Spartans had to protect, and they're like... You know, if we kept this spot buried tight, you know, (?) will come to nothing. And so you had this crowd of, like, black people in the dark, and they try to get in this dank spot, like, forcing their way in, like... (makes shoving motion) Yeah, you don't... You know, we don't let them in!
Linkara: Isn't interpretation of symbolism fun, Frank? (smiles)
Black Canary: Is America taking all this lying down? Are we just lying flat on our backs to the President? Are we just spreading our legs to executive power?
Linkara: (singing to Meow Mix jingle) Whores, whores, whores, whores / Whores, whores, whores, whores...
Superman: (narrating) Ma. Pa. You were wrong. I will always cherish this planet and its creatures-- but you were wrong. I am not one of them. I am not human. I am no man. I am Superman.
Linakra: ...No, I'm not gonna do it. I'm saving it. Trust me on this one.
Linkara (v/o): While Green Lantern arrives in orbit, the Atom destroys Brainiac's probes that keep the citizens of the model city of Kandor in line. It's not surprising why this book pisses me off so much. Moments like this that actually seem like they'd be really clever and good momentarily lull me into thinking that suddenly it's going to get good. But then we have green energy washing over the Earth as Luthor finishes his little speech to Batman about how he's going to control the planet and kill most of the population. And instead of sticking with that, we decide to cut to more satire, including an Elvis impersonator, the Pope, an Islamic terrorist, two, quote-unquote, "prominent scientists", and many more people I don't care about! It's there we see that the planet was inside of Green Lantern's fist, and what he's done is wipe out all of the destructive satellites over Earth.
Green Lantern: (narrating) Bruce, you were right. Of course we're criminals. We've always been criminals. On this planet we have to be criminals.
(Linkara puts down the comic and puts on a second pair of glasses over his regular pair and then picks up a piece of paper, which he starts reading from)
Linkara: "Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts." (puts down paper and takes off glasses) Funny how that line didn't mention the fact that Batman himself must be a criminal, almost as if he isn't supposed to be one. (scratches his cheek) Oh, Frank, what was the thing you said about Batman being the most good and pure hero?
Linkara (v/o): Batman, who's been freed from the jello by the Flash, explains to Luthor that he allowed himself to be caught and tortured like this to serve as a distraction, plus to see the look on his face when he took him down. And so, the Hawk kids come bursting in and kill Luthor, Batman proudly proclaiming...
Batman: Way to go, kid! That was great!
Linkara (v/o): ...and even puts down Barry Allen, who briefly objects to, you know, KILLING SOMEONE!!
Linkara: People, I understand that the images you're seeing are painful, confusing, and downright horrific to your senses, so to give you all a break, enjoy this cute little kitten.
(A cat video is shown briefly: to techno music, a gray kitten is seen running through a room; cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): You know what I think the problem is with this comic? It's the same problem as "JLA - Act of God": it's a confusing mess of a story that worships Batman to the denigration of all others who don't conform to his will and methodology. The story doesn't know what it wants to say, so it's all over the place with dumb satire, characters behaving in ways that personality conflicts with, and things that are supposed to be deep and powerful just come off as pretentious or confusing. Batman's other plan comes to fruition as Supergirl plans to attack Brainiac from within. He laughs her off, saying that it would take ten of her to cause him harm. And what a coinkydink! The Atom shatters the bottle for the city, and the Kandor citizens break out and fly with superpowers, not that that makes any sense, since Brainiac said he was keeping them under red sun radiation, and they haven't had any real exposure to sunlight to give them superpowers or anything, but whatever. And so they all blow up the giant supercomputer robot.
Linkara: (holding up fist, deadpan) Huzzah. I'm sure I'm supposed to give a damn, and I'll let you know when I do.
Linkara (v/o): Batman gets a distress call from the Bat-Cave. Carrie Kelley is under attack from the Joker-like creature, and he races to get there. Pity he doesn't just call up the Flash and tell him to get over there, since he's in such a hurry and everything. Bruce finally arrives at the cave and confronts the creature, activating the cave's self-destruct sequence. The Joker creature tries to override it, but fails, confirming to Bruce that the Joker creature is in fact... Dick Grayson! Yep, betcha didn't see that one coming. He explains that he underwent radical gene therapy to ensure that he can't die; he just regenerates. Hmm, and no explanation for why exactly he decided to go psychotic and want to kill Bruce and everyone else around them or why he'd work for Luthor, but Bruce decides to mock him for good measure, which is exactly what you want to do with the unkillable psychotic with a grudge against you. I'd go into how radically stupid this revelation is, but the book is almost over with. Bruce drops them down under the cave and explains that there's a volcano underneath it – whatever – and that if Dick falls into the volcano, he'll die for good. Oh, he even chops off Dick's head, which continues to talk even after decapitation.
Dick: Damn you! I loved you!
(Linkara raises his finger in the air)
Singers: The Ambiguously Gay Duo!
Batman: So what? You were useless. You didn't have the chops. You couldn't cut the mustard.
Linkara: (massaging his face, miserably) My hatred for this comic knows no bounds.
Linkara (v/o): Ralph Dibny manages to save Carrie Kelley from dying in the cave, and Dick Grayson falls into the lava, Superman saving Bruce at the last minute. And so, our comic ends with more stupid satire involving the Superchix, people wanting to worship Superman, more of the dumbass political debates between Question and Green Arrow, and Supergirl and Superman in orbit around Earth, wondering what they're going to do with their planet, implying that they're just going to take it over themselves. The entire thing ends with Bruce and Carrie Kelley talking to each other, in particular how he's lost all his stuff, but he doesn't care.
Batman: Souvenirs, darling. Nothing but souvenirs. I was sentimental-- back when I was old.
Linakra (v/o): And there it goes, yet another moment that might have actually been decent had it not been for the fact that he looks absolutely goofy with the beat-up face and the ears on his cowl drooping over like that.
Linkara: Well, that's it, folks. That's the final issue of one of the worst comics ever made and one of the worst sequels ever made. (smiling) Oh, and you better believe I'm angry now! But I think I know exactly how I'm going to make myself feel better. Come along, kids!
(He gets up and walks out into the yard, taking the comic with him)
(A Battlizer appears on his wrist. Putting the comic under his arm, he then pushes a button on the Battlizer, then takes the comic again as the Battlizer glows red)
Linkara: I AM A MAN!!
(With that, he punches the comic with his glowing arm, setting it on fire and knocking it into a trash can, where the comic burns up, as Linkara watches with satisfaction)
Linkara: Told you I was saving it.
(Linkara walks back into the room while the comic continues to burn in the trash)
(End credits roll)
This comic's real problem? Not enough BAMMO!
I'm heartbroken that I couldn't find any good Saturday Night Live Chris Matthews clips for this one.
Then again, I did have the kitten.
(Stinger: The final shot of the goofy-looking Batman is shown again as he says, "I was sentimental-- back when I was old.")
Batman: (elderly voice) Eh? Who are you people? Where's my soup? Ask me about my grandchildren.