Over the weekend I received two comic collections that make me want to slap Frank Miller, then go and read some of his stuff from back when he was good.
The Best of The Spirit collects 22 episodes of the newspaper strip that made Will Eisner’s name and influenced so many other comics, including Miller’s. The 7 page tales are almost always self contained and often experimental. Most of all, they’re light. Even the darkest of subjects is addressed with, but never undermined by, humour. Miller’s recent film based upon The Spirit replaced the humour with overblown attempts at wackiness and buried the rest under Sin City style grim and uberviolence. After watching the film I merely thought Miller had made a disappointing movie. Now I’ve read the originals I agree with the other Spirit fans who think he’s massacred something special.
The other book I received was All Star Batman and Robin: The Boy Wonder, which collects the first eight issues of Miller and Jim Lee’s series about the boy sidekick’s origin. Will Eisner could have achieved more in 7 pages than Miller and Lee manage in any two issues of this comic. Miller’s writing, and- judging by the cover gallery- his art, has become a bad pastiche of the great work he did on Dark Knight Returns and tears apart the well balanced characters established in his Batman: Year One. The only thing I can say in favour of All Star is that Miller’s only tarnishing his own reputation with it, rather than dragging down one of comics’ greats.