Sure a lotta people see Miller’s Batman as the real Batman, with its grit and cynicism, but that rendition was Bruce Wayne at the end of his career as the Dark Knight. But what about Batman at his prime? Call me out as old-fashioned, I don’t give two tugs of dead dog’s cock, but I tend to pay attention to Knight more than Dark, in Batman’s moniker. And with that medieval analogy must also come a sense of chivalry and, dare I say it, romance.
Steve Englehart and Marshal Rogers’ run on Detective Comics, and more importantly their return in Dark Detective (which I’ve just been lucky enough to flip through), definitely has its share of Gotham’s most gushingly insane criminals. No, no… this Joker doesn’t just crack jokes related to whatever evil he’s plotting, he’ll lose himself in tangents and wordplay in mid-sentence, delightfully disappearing into himself, and then somehow find his way back to whatever mischief he was in the middle of before he left. He is, for all intents and purposes, bat-shit crazy. And that’s not even counting Two-Face and the Scarecrow, who show up to give the shit a healthy gust as it hits the fan.
But as thoughtfully written as the baddies are, so too is the romantic side of the story. Silver St. Cloud, a great love interest to Bruce, assumes a pivotal role throughout the six-issue mini. And if you read into things enough, you can start to see how a lot was taken from this book and shot into Nolan’s arm for The Dark Knight. You see it. It may have a different label on the jar, but it’s there.
Strictly speaking, I’m a child of the IMAGE generation of comics, but reading this book is like discovering Frazetta when all you’ve been looking at was Bisley. And that’s not a knock on Bisley on any level, I’m loving his Hellblazer stuff, but it just amazes me how strong some of the older stories were despite having to work within classic boundaries and comics codes. Especially when it comes to Batman, it’s nice to know you can look back and not have it all be nipples and bad sets.