ENG235S W2018 Graphic Novel Take-home Test
Name: Yijiao Gao Student Number: 1002121214 Date: Jan 30th, 2018
Part A Short response
Picture 1a is the first panel on page 10 of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, published in 1986. Bruce Wayne retired from his heroic work after the death of the second Robin Jason, and the Batman never show up again in the Gotham city over 10 years. However, the appearance of the Mutant and the escape of Two-Faced Man and the Joker cause a series of deterioration to the sociopolitical environment and the security condition of the Gotham city which makes Bruce Wayne want to become Batmen once again at an age of 50.
In this particular panel 1a, Bruce Wayne’s face is covered by the helmet in the way just like the mask covers Batman’s face in his “golden era” of the 40’s, Miller hide the same part of the face on Bruce to imply that although Bruce Wayne is retired, he is never far away from being the Batman.
In the novel there is a moment Batman says, “if you gonna work alone, you’d better put on a MASK. ” This indicates covered face is a really important feature of the Batman.
Alan Moore and Brine Bollard’s Batman The Killing Joke, published in 1988, tells the story after the Clown Prince of Crime which leaves the Batgirl, Barbara Gordon in a critical condition and kidnaps, Batman begins to hunt the Joker.
In this panel, as can be seen that the word “THINKING” “HAPPEN” “END” and “KILL” are all bolded which indicates Batman has become weary himself at this point, because he realizes that if they cannot stop struggling on the same problem, the Joker and himself may end up killing each other in the end.
Part B: Essay response
1) The Correctness of Vigilantism in The Dark Knight Returns
Traditional conception and some stereotypes of superhero were forever changed by the Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, published in 1986, which tells a story happens under a background of Reagan era.
According to Miller, he uses the failure of New York Police Department as a model for Gotham City, the whole society tends to preferring the rise of a vigilante because it comes in as a more immediate move than re-election of new politician. The whole society is waiting for a vigilante to reset the moral order. Vigilantism seen as okay when social acceptance on a large scale occurs, but there are many views opposing the idea that vigilantism is a correct choice.
2- Batman’s vigilantism
To begin with, in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchman, published in 1986-1987, the phrase “Who watches the Watchman? ” is never fully-visible in the novel. This implies a series of problems in questioning if the people who are voted to be in charge is corrupt, who will watch over the people, which works in the same way as in Politics, the voters watch the politicians. Since Reagan is somewhat corrupt, not representing everyone’s interesting, Batman’s vigilantism and individualism seem to be a correct choice in response to Reagan’s conservatism.
As Miller said that Batman is a man in terms of good and evil, different from the Superman who makes no distinction between himself and citizens, Batman is a man who has become a mystery person, but the other hand, “he is too big” said by the Commissioner which suggests he is too big to fall in line like the Superman does (The Dark Knight Returns, 1986, pg. 176). Unlike Superman is more like a tool of government, Batman is the one who maintains his individualism which however, is “too big” in terms of justice, politics and morals. In the novel, as the story moves into the end, it’s worth questioning whether there is a tendency for the vigilante, the Batman’s own government which is himself towards fascism.
In the novel, there is a moment Batman said “I did it because I thought it was the best” . (The Dark Knight Returns, 1986, pg. 135). Vigilantism could be a correct choice on the basis of civil indifference which is highly depend on the extent of civil disobedience and Batman’s own actions and decisions since he is both status quo and not, good and evil, legal and illegal.
2) The Joker: The most rational person has become the most insane man
In Alan Moore and Brine Bollard’s Batman The Killing Joke, published in 1988, the Commissioner Gordon has shown Batman that all it takes is for one bad day to cause someone to fall into madness. In fact both the Batman and the Joker fall into madness because of one bad day.
From this point of view, Joker and Batman are just like the two sides of a same coin, one choose
enforcing justice on behalf of heaven one enjoy committing crime and creating chaos.
2- The Logic and the World view of the “insane” Joker
The biggest difference between Joker and other villains is that he does not have a clear motive to commit crime, he commit crime simply because he desperately want to prove his worldview and logic are the only truth. There is a moment in the novel Joker says “I choose chaos.” which could explains his performance in the dark night.
Although the Joker’s past has left up to ambiguity, he has marked by all the thing he loss and his dark childhood which result in his insanity and make him a fearless man. But he still have a clear worldview and logic. He think here is no such thing as rules, morals, plans and justice. The essence of the world is chaos and arbitraryness. Therefore, he must prove his values and logic, and convince others through his actions. Joker has repeatedly emphasizing the reason of why the gangs, the police and Batman are being turned off by themselves is they all have shortcomings, or valued things, such as justice means to the Batman. So all the other people are strangled by those shortcomings except himself who is fearless with no weakness.
The Joker’s actions shown he is insane, but actually he just have a logic and worldview that are approved by no one but himself, so he create more massive chaos to prove all oh this which is a vicious cycle in his one-man show.