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Batman Noir: The Dark Knight Returns Hardcover – June 9, 2015
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"Changed the course of comics."--Rolling Stone
"There's never been storytelling quite like this. It took someone who views comics as an art to create it."--Washington Post
"It's film noir in cartoon panels."--Vanity Fair
"His brutal yet elegant noir renderings, pulpy yet eloquent scripting, and thoroughly uncompromising attitude make him one of the most distinctive voices in comics."--Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
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I opened up the shrink-wrapping and noticed the porous matte cover that is white. My hands were already sweaty and from that instance I knew that holding this book will be a bit of a chore because it will get dirty a lot quicker than if it had been a glossy material. Smudges and dirty finger prints will eventually show up years down the road, but if you don't care so much about that let's take a look inside.
I noticed that this book is part of a series with particular lettering of "Batman Noir" is in front of the traditional title and of course Lynn Varley is absent here in the credits, but her work is evident in this volume scattered a handful of times here and there. I'll point out a few things, but I won't go into page numbers and all that. I think someone else with a little more time will to do that. I'm an artist myself and in all honesty I tried to tackle this huge task of separating the color from the inks of DKR for my own purposes and printed them out in a large portfolio as a teaching tool. I know it may sound weird. So I went about this by scanning the printed pages of an old DKR volume I took apart. Page by page they were scanned and much like what I imagine they did in this volume for many or most of the pages; separating the color from the black and white. But unlike my archaic attempt I think they had access to the original transparency files from the color artwork so they were one up on me. Scanning of printed artwork and separating the color is way harder to do and much like scanning mesh patterns instead of airbrush backgrounds and inked lines. I thought the publisher would have the resources, original files and a budget to get some of the original pages from collectors out in the world and could make an amazing reproduction of the original inked art here, but they didn't.
First the black and whites (Klaus's inks) are too chunky and broken up in some parts. The lines hardly ever tapper off like they should and this is because of the "program" they used. I imagine Photoshop with some filters. Don't get me wrong to the untrained eye it would be fine and because of the use of a filter effect the lines are slightly thicker and this would make the art seemingly closer in appearance to Miller's other works like Sin City which is obviously the direction they had in mind. I would almost be okay with this effect and given this book a 3 to 3.5 star rating, but that's not the biggest issue I have with this new edition.
Here is the major flaw.
There are grayscaled panels throughout the volume. A few in the first chapter and the rest mostly in the last. The last part of the book (Book 4) uses more of Lynn Varley's color to define form. Like snow or a jail cell. I would have gotten rid of the snowy background and left the sky clear without the debris of broken halftone residue of Lynn Varley's airbrushed watercolor sky. It is already expressed in the words, but like most mainstream comics somethings are expressed too literally because they don't trust the intelligence of the audience, but that's another problem for another time. Here they made the decision or had no idea how to resolve this issue of Varley's stamp on the book. One of the more recognized scene in the book where Superman is struck by lightning where the use of Varley's airbrush and paint makes the lighting shape is outlined here with less finesse by the image editor. Who is it? It's not in the large print in the front of the volume that's for sure, but the person or persons "hand" is evident throughout DKR. The worse areas like I mentioned are the panels where they decided to leave in the sky where they should have taken it out completely. It's pretty gross to see since most of the first part of the volume seemed to have been cleared up.
That is why this volume is not good enough. I can barely look at the last chapter because of the butchering of Varley's beautiful work with halftones, grayscaling and broken pointillism caused by manipulating some of Varley's painting to dark smudgy mush in an image editing program. Some pages look like bad photocopies. They couldn't do it or ran out of time, resources or money and I knew it. They also scanned in the covers and left some of backgrounds by Varley as well in grayscale. They look atrocious. So it's not really worth the money because it is worse than I imagined. I wanted this book to supplement the original colored books and the Absolute version I have, but I find it hard to even see it around my studio. Quite disappointed.
I have no qualms about the paper use. I think it is fine and perhaps if it was glossy it may have been better, but not by much. If you'd like to see a volume that was reproduced excellently in a collected edition check out Ted McKeever's Eddy Current - the Darkhorse Volume. Frank Miller once said to him he looks as his work before he starts any drawing.
That said, the hardcover book here is a very good product. Larger than the regular DKR book, in a classy, very adult-coffee-table-book aesthetic. Definitely a conversation starter for your shelf - the sharp white binding really draws the eye. I'm happy to have it. Worth a look for a casual fan or a collector.
Top international reviews
El color blanco de las pastas esta muy bien y su tacto tambien.Las hojas estan bien ,aunque me hubiera gustado que hubieran sido del material de los actuales comics de grapa porque en mi opinion queda muy bien el blanco y negro.Edicion en mayor formato que el normal,mejor para apreciar el dibujo.
En cuanto a la obra,bueno,Frank miller es un creador con mayuscula. Narrador excelente,con la palabra y con el dibujo.Yvaliente.Siempre al lado de la victima y frente al malvado.Siempre hubo un superheroe dentro de este creador.
Batman:The Dark Knight es un trabajo poderoso que cambiaria a Batman, y, para los que lo leimos jovenes y, por primera vez,uno de aquellos tebeos editados entonces de superheroes cuya lectura te dejaba al terminar la mente en blanco y el cuerpo quieto, meditando,degustando lo que acababas de leer.(Algo inusual para un comic de superheroes).No seria el unico tebeos de estas caracteristicas que llegaria a nuestras manos por aquel entonces.Recomiendo la presentacion que de esta obra escribio Alan Moore.
El contenido es hermoso, una muy buena compra para todo aquello amante del noveno arte.