Friday, January 10, 2020

Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child

Darkseid pees out of his eyes.

"For a person who isn't a fan of Frank Miller's writing, I sure do purchase a lot of Frank Miller comic books," is my planned opening line for next Tuesday's therapy session. I hope I have a breakthrough and gain some insight into why I keep doing this to myself!

This book probably begins where DK III: The Master Race #9 left off. I say probably because I'm not good at remembering things. The thing about remembering things is that you actually have to pay attention to the thing. So while reading DK III: The Master Race #9, I should have been thinking, "Oh my! Yes, that's just like a Kandorian!" and "Why, that Lara, being half-Kryptonian and half-Amazonian, probably has a tight anal sphincter," and "Try to remember that Superman and Wonder Woman now have a male child who will be important in the next Dark Knight returns comic book." But I didn't think any of those things at all (except for maybe the tight anal sphincter thing). Instead, I was reading DK III: The Master Race #9 and thinking things like, "Making snide comments while reading comic books doesn't really help one ingest the full meaning and scope of the comic being read. It's like watching somebody you're attracted to do something talented while constantly thinking, 'I wonder what that butt smells like?' You know how that is, right? Afterward they're all, 'So, how did I do?!' And you're all, 'My pants are ruined!' Then they make that face that says, 'We probably won't be talking for awhile.' And then you go home and change your undergarments while crying a snot river of your own making. By the way, that never happened to me and if you say it did, I'll delete this from the Internet and say, 'Oh yeah?! Prove it!' Boy, won't you look stupid!" which is remarkably close to the things I was thinking while I should have been reading (and thinking about!) this comic book! Is it possible that across four thousand blog posts, I've only written about three dozen new thoughts?

The issue begins with Superman and Wonder Woman's daughter Lara speaking with Superman and Wonder Woman's son whose name I don't remember or simply never knew. I'm fairly certain the first five pages are out of order. They would go better ordered 1, 2, 3, 5, 4. Normally I complain how Frank Miller's confusing script loses me. But I'm generally able to follow the comic for the first five pages! It's not like this is an old man Neal Adams story.

As the Super Children observe the humans of Gotham City, a riot breaks out. According to Batgirl and the local media, everybody protesting Donald Trump are violent and crazy. Yeah, that's exactly what's happening. Way to buy into the right-wing media hype that anti-Trump and anti-fascist protesters are violent. Some Antifa kid punches a Nazi in the face and the right-wing media never shuts up about it, acting like all protesters are violent. Run a protester over with your car and the right-wing media never speaks of it again except to maybe point out some people are mentally ill and they're not representative of the hate espoused by all the non-violent people just trying to protect history (where history is a bunch of statues of historical figures, statues which they all conveniently ignore the history of why they were cheaply and quickly erected in the first place). I wonder if my comic book store would let me return this book if I pointed out how fucking terrible Frank Miller's writing can be. Probably not. They'd probably say, "Look. We know you knew how terrible Miller was when you bought this comic book. You can't now plead ignorance. Sorry, pal." Then I'd probably mutter, "Foiled!" and walk out with a few more Frank Miller comic books.

I guess I'm just being reactionary! Maybe Miller's point is exactly my point about how the media always gets the headlines wrong in their desperate need to not appear biased (which, of course, causes them to seem biased in the opposite direction while not appeasing the side that continues to call them biased). Because what actually happens in the story is that a bunch of people are protesting the mayor's re-election when a bunch of Joker's minions attack the protest. I think they represent the racist, pro-fascist, MAGA dimwits. They cause the violence and then the media reports, "Protest gets violent because protesters are totally violent jerks!" And just to make sure everybody knows that Donald Trump is the baddie, we see The Joker and Darkseid wearing MAGA hats. Okay, maybe he doesn't go that far. But they do have a Trump doll. And after I draw MAGA hats on them and I reread this comic book in twenty years, I'll go, "Holy shit! Donald Trump is so obviously the baddie because The Joker and Darkseid are wearing MAGA hats!"

I wouldn't be surprised if Frank Miller's actual point to this story was "Why be right or left, sucker? The only way to win is not to play the game! Big ups to my main man WOPR! Centrists for life, yo!" Pretty sure I nailed Frank Miller's voice there.

"It's 2020 and Frank Miller is still doing 'Not' jokes" is the only review of this comic book you probably need.

The Joker and Darkseid are cumming in their pants over the engagement in the election cycle. I guess people who want to stop terrible politicians from making the country a living hell for a vast number of the population are simply falling into their trap! Stupid people who want a better world! Can't they see that the only way to defeat The Joker and Darkseid is to disengage from the circus of election cycles and simply live their own life without any concern for others? Doesn't the electorate know the best life to live is the life that leads to Ayn Randian defenses of their own selfish needs? Just shut up and take what they give you, you dumb fucks.

I should probably finish reading this story before I continue to jump from conclusion to conclusion about Frank Miller's point. His ultimate point might simply be that the children will save us all! Or that it doesn't matter if the children change the world or not because the adults will all be dead by then so who fucking cares?

Supergirl Lara confronts Darkseid by blasting him with her heat vision. He dies multiple times or something but doesn't somehow. He applauds her rage the way bad guys always do and then calmly sits down to tell all of the children a story. He's going to be sensible and rational which means it will be the truth, I think. Obviously if you have any emotional attachment to your beliefs, they're garbage beliefs. Until you can squeeze all of the humanity out of yourself, the things you believe won't hold up in rational debate! So divest yourself of your rage, children! It will only make you more logical and intellectually stronger! But also divest yourself of your joy and your despair and your other emotions I can't think of! There must be more, right?

While Darkseid is distracted regaling everybody with his tale of the anti-life equation, Superboy sneaks up behind him and takes over his Omega Effect. He turns it back on Darkseid and Darkseid disintegrates into non-existence. Unless he was transported back in time. I don't really know how his eyeball lasers work.

Darkseid doesn't stay dead for long. He returns as the Omega God, as the end of everything, as the final death of everything on Earth.

But maybe later, I guess?

Batwoman beats up some Jokers and shuts down Trump's ability to broadcast to Gotham. It makes Darkseid angry enough to return for some reason. Probably a metaphorical reason. Or an analogical reason. I think maybe my attention span is seriously slipping! And right when I'm getting to the part that's probably going to explain what the fuck is going on in this comic book.

Superboy destroys Darkseid by calling him an old fart. Also maybe a little bit by blasting him with a new super power: neutron vision! Darkseid has now had his powers stripped so far back that a human bouncing a rock off of his head makes him bleed. But still he thinks, "I will manipulate these fools with my lofty words!" But then Greta Thunberg clenches her fist at him and Batwoman says, "You have no power here! We're thinking for ourselves now!" And then that's the end somehow.

Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child Rating: I can't comprehend what I just read. Maybe the point was that we shouldn't comprehend what other people want us to comprehend? Maybe it was an anti-propaganda story? Maybe it was just terrible writing pretending to be art? It's so hard to tell because it's trying so hard to be complex! Is it's complexity real or a facade? I can't tell! Maybe I should stick to easier things to understand, like James Joyce's Finnegans Wake or Alan Moore's 1300 page novel, Jerusalem, which I finished. Maybe that's Frank Miller's problem. Maybe he just didn't have enough pages to really get to the point he was trying to make. But then if he did have more pages, how many would he waste by simply repeating the same things over and over again? For those of you who haven't read this (or Superman: Year One), he does that a lot. Not in the good way that Tom King and Gertrude Stein repeat themselves. Just in a way that makes you think, "I got it! Superboy is right in Darkseid's brain." Maybe that's a poor example from this comic book because repeating that over and over works to show how painful Superboy's presence in Darkseid's brain is. But I assure you there were many other examples that I can't make excuses for. I just can't be bothered to dig back through the comic book to find them.

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