Mike’s favorite comics of 2012, part 3


We’re now up to the third and final title in my list of Favorite Comics of 2012. It’s a title that first caught my eye early last year when a promotional image for the comic was released depicting a woman with wings being embraced by a man with horns and breastfeeding an infant, also with horns. The image drew a little bit of controversy amongst industry professionals for nonchalantly depicting a woman in the act of breastfeeding, a controversy that I weighed in on right here, in this very column, last January.

The image struck a chord, showing three people, a family unit, in the middle of doing something very personal and very honest and very human, but there were enough clues in the picture to convey that these people are certainly not human. It was the perfect teaser for a comic unlike anything else on the market, one that I knew was going to become an instant favorite as soon as I read it. And it didn’t disappoint. That title, of course, is Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga.

Saga is a bedtime story for adults to tell each other after their kids have gone to sleep. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy story that harkens back to the planetary romances of John Carter. But with contemporary elements such as ATM cameras and smart phones, planets named Sextillion and Landfall, and characters that reference gun statistics and school buses, you get the sense that it’s a fantasy story written by someone who’s not terribly interested in fantasy stories. It’s less like a mythology and more like a heightened reality, a story about regular people that is being told in the language of dreams.

The story of Saga is pretty straightforward. There’s a war in space. On one side there’s the goat-ish people who inhabit the magical moon of Wreath. On the other side there’s the winged people of Landfall, the planet that Wreath orbits. It’s been a long, ugly war, and there is understandably great resentment on both sides toward the opposing species. Against the backdrop of this bloody interplanetary conflict, we are introduced to two young lovers, Marko and Alana. Marko was a soldier from Wreath who was taken prisoner by the other side. Alana was his guard.

The two fell in love and absconded, eventually getting married and conceiving a child, our narrator Hazel. We meet them just as Hazel is being born. It’s from here that their epic saga begins, as they fight to stay one step ahead of the deadly forces being sent in from both sides who want the traitorous couple destroyed and their baby captured. Along the way they dodge intergalactic bounty hunters, acquire a disemboweled teenage ghost nanny, soar through the stars in an organic wooden rocket ship, and reconcile things with the in-laws. It’s part Star Wars, part Lord of the Rings, part TV sitcom.

What really blows me away with Saga is the sophistication of it. Brian K. Vaughan has so many good ideas and so many cool characters. He’s got the baby narrating the thing as an adult, her words juxtaposed with the stuff on the page so perfectly that you have to wonder if he’s actually had this story written for years and he’s just now deciding to tell it to us.

Each character has their own voice and feels totally fleshed out and organic, and honestly each of the main characters already feels like they could be a lead in their own book. The Will? Not since Boba Fett has their been a more badass Intergalactic Bounty Hunter. Probably the breakout character in the book. And the thing is, Vaughan has all this going on and there’s so many layers to the book and he makes it look so easy. Saga is an effortless read. It’s breezy, fun, adorable and genuinely funny. An action packed rom-com set in space.

On the other side of the equation, you have Fiona Staples’ amazing art. AMAZING art. Holy crap, guys. I want to reiterate right here that for all of my top comic picks of 2012; Hawkeye, The Manhattan Projects, and Saga, I’m not just fawning over the work of the writer, I am equally as impressed by the artist and am overall in love with the finished work of art that both parties have created.

All three of these books so far have largely been writer/artist team books, wherein the writer and the artist have formed a kind of power couple that creates the fundamental identity of the title. Neither person could be replaced, is what I’m trying to say (even though Hawkeye had a few guest artists, and delightful ones, I might add). And Saga is no different.

Like the other artists on my list, David Aja of Hawkeye and Nick Pitarra of The Manhattan Projects, I hadn’t been previously introduced to Staples’ work before picking up Saga. And like those other two artists, I was pleasantly surprised to find that her style is exactly what I want to see more of in comics. Staples’ work, from her gorgeous and serene “painted” covers to her brutal, ballistic fight scenes, is consistently light, breezy, expressive and dynamic.

No matter what she’s drawing, it can be Marko standing straight up wearing jeans and a t-shirt, or it can be a beautiful arachnoid bounty hunter fighting off alien creatures, her art is always smooth, solid, and full of motion. There’s no need for a lot of heavy inks or balls-out detail. It’s all about finesse here, and she makes it look absolutely effortless. And as the backmatter in issue 8 reminds us, Staples is doing all of this herself. From thumbnails to the colors, even the lettering in the case of Hazel’s narration, that’s Staples. She’s a goddamn machine and you’d never even know she was breaking a sweat.

So yeah, that’s Saga. And that’s my list for best comics of 2012. Three titles with writers who are at the top of their game pairing with artists who make me want to draw every time I see their work. These book are smart, they’re unique, and they’re fun as hell. And they’re early in their run, so there’s still time to jump onboard and follow along. Which I hope that I’ve been able to encourage you to do. Because, seriously guys, if these books are any indication, 2013 should be an amazing year for comics.

Originally published online at Sequart.com.

Mike’s Favorite Comics of 2012, part 2


For me, 2012 was when I finally started taking some chances on creator-owned books. Before, it was always just a matter of following my favorite writers from the Big Two over into a more open, creative arena. If I bought a book that wasn’t from Marvel or DC, it still had Warren Ellis’s name on it. Or Grant Morrison’s. Or Alan Moore’s. Otherwise, I didn’t give it much of a chance. For a few years, those guys were the only reason I was reading comic books. Them and Spider-Man, which I read out of servitude more than anything else.

There were two reasons for this. First of all, the comic shop where I lived didn’t pay too much attention to smaller books. If a new Ellis book was coming out from Avatar, it was not always easy to follow it issue to issue. And if I had to special order an issue, it was like pulling teeth. The other reason was because I was happy with what I was reading and didn’t really wanna take chances with creators that I didn’t already know. In other words, I kinda sucked as a comics fan.

That started to change last year. As things started changing drastically in my life as well as with the comics getting put out by the Big Two, I finally felt the need to see what else was out there, what I was missing. I wanted to feel challenged by comics again. I needed new ideas and young blood. I needed fresh four-color meat for to satiate my growing comic book appetite. I also moved to a much bigger area with much bigger comics stores, increasing my awareness of smaller titles. Now when I go in to by the new issue of Avengers, I look at the wall and I see an explosion of titles, many I’ve never heard of before, and I make sure to pick a few up.

The first title to really pop out at me was “The Manhattan Projects.” I remember scanning a wall full of covers depicting explosions and robots and vampires and human missiles and psychotic bat-children, and right in the middle of it all was a stylized bisected eyeball containing the letters “MP” followed by two names and a short, informative paragraph. Around the eyeball was a ring of blue and red color swatches on a white background. It looked like some kind of small instructional pamphlet. But it was called “The Manhattan Projects,” plural, and the mere implications of that pluralization was a greater hook for me than any crazy exploding superhero deathtrap cliffhanger crossover maxi-series foil cover variant. The book had history, atomic science and war right in the title, and the cover combined spy movie flare with art geek minimalism. How could anyone resist?

Within the pages of “The Manhattan Projects,” I was offered a twist on science-fiction in which the scientists themselves were the fiction. To be sure, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this spin on history, but it could be the most ambitious of such stories. The heroes of the book were a team of super-scientists, with the core members being the actual members of the real life Manhattan Project. They each have some kind of power or quirk reminiscent of a superpower, showing that the creators aren’t looking to apologize for the medium they’re using.

Robert Oppenheimer, for instance, the father of the atomic bomb, has actually been replaced by his twin brother, Joseph, a murderous sociopath who eats his kills so that they may live on in his head. Albert Einstein has been replaced by his highly intelligent, but not quite ingenious, alternate reality doppelganger. Harry Daghlian, who in our reality died of radiation poisoning resulting from a lab accident, lives on in this comic as a sort of hungry radiation ghost. The result brings to mind Ghost Rider or Mysterio, or Johann Kraus from Hellboy. It’s silly stuff, but this silly stuff then gives way to some very sophisticated storytelling.

Of course we all know that the real life Manhattan Project was the quest to develop the world’s first atomic bomb. In “The Manhattan Projects,” however, the development and the deployment of the bomb is handled within the first story arc. The scene is actually handled in a very tense, well-paced verbal tug-of-war between the freshly inaugurated Harry Truman and team leader General Leslie Groves. Truman, by the way, is depicted throughout the comic engaging in high-volume occult orgies, the kind that would make Aleister Crowley green with envy. Franklin Roosevelt is in the comic as well, outliving his real life counterpart as the world’s first artificial intelligence and ostensibly going on to form a shadow government.

At any rate, in addition to the bomb, there are several other technological advances that are being explored by The Manhattan Projects, including travel between planets and apparently travel between dimensions. This is all, of course, in an effort to keep America ahead of its enemies, who are at first the Japanese forces and their army of axe-wielding kamikaze killing machines, and then later the Soviets, who have their own strange army of robot freaks, as well as any possible world-conquering alien civilizations. However, as things develop, it begins to look as though the true enemies might be the other members of the team. It’s definitely a super-powered, comic book-y version of history, but one that is more clever, funny and hip than anything else I’ve seen.

“The Manhattan Projects” was my introduction to the work of Jonathan Hickman, a name I kept seeing pop up on Marvel titles, but who I never really sought out until this point. Hickman’s work is extremely well fleshed-out and feels well-researched, but never feels too dense. He doesn’t try to push how smart he is or how much research he’s done with overly talky characters or an abundance of explanations. Instead he lets the pages breathe and chooses well placed lines that say everything you need to know about how the character thinks and how they’re reacting to a certain scene with just a few sentences. There’s also very little expository dialogue, with much of the characters’ backstories playing out in red-and-blue flashback scenes that usually deliver very poignant character moments or set up something important that happens later in the issue.

As with Hickman’s other projects, including his current relaunch of Marvel’s “Avengers,” a sleek sense of design is embedded in “The Manhattan Project’s” DNA. In addition to the cover designs, the book brings back the eyeball element from the cover for pages that display quotes from the characters, which add context to the story. There’s also a title “screen” after each issue’s cold open, which takes the shape of a double page spread announcing the title and using elements of the cover design. A list of cast members, which is added to after every issue and contains little jokes hidden throughout, can be found in the back of the book.

Bringing Hickman’s words to life is Nick Patarra, an artist whose work I am new to but whose career I will be sure to follow beyond this title. His style reminds me of Juan Jose Ryp and Ramon Villalobos, in that he shares their heavy lines and knack for gore, but Patarra’s work comes with a sense of playfulness that brings to mind the late, great Seth Fisher. His characters are all slightly alien-like with big heads, slender bodies, pointy eyebrows and round noses, something that adds to the outlandish tone of the comic.

Patarra’s work on The MPs starts out very loose and fluid but then within the first few issues gets progressively tighter and more lush. His panels tend to have great depth and detail, and his rendering of aliens and of machines are particularly engrossing. I think this is because when he’s working on machines his lines become very mechanical and hard, and when he’s working on organic objects his lines become softer and everything looks kind of… gooey. If that makes sense. And then you get something like a gorgeous full page spread of an atomic bomb exploding over Hiroshima and it looks like a mushroom cloud made of marmalade. Lovely. I want to eat these pages.

That’s why I love “The Manhattan Projects” so much. It’s a comic book first. These guys are having a blast within the medium that they’ve chosen. They’re challenging things, shaking things up within that medium. This isn’t a pitch for a movie or a TV show. This is meant to be experienced purely as a twenty-however-paged paper pamphlet. It’s a love-letter to the Lee/Kirby/Ditko age of comics, when science was a superpower and the creepiness of the art spoke to all the paranoia and panic of the times. It’s also a very cutting-edge, sophisticated series that is firing on all cylinders conceptually and graphically. And it’s just getting started. It isn’t even up to issue 10 yet. If you aren’t already reading this series, you’ve still got plenty of time to catch up.

Trust me, this isn’t one you want to miss.

Originally published online at Sequart.com.

Mike’s Favorite Comics of 2012, part 1


With the turn of the New Year, I’ve decided to do a short series of articles looking back at last year’s titles and spotlighting my three favorites. They’re all books that were started last year, and actually none of them have even reached the double-digits yet. They’re also all pretty much smaller titles and even though they’re generating a lot of buzz right now, I know that we fanpeoples tend to have a hard time deviating from our tried and true favorite characters and titles, so I’m hoping that by talking about these books in my column I can encourage some of you to take a chance on them and boost their readership. Because, you know, I’m such an opinion leader and all. And honestly, if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll pretty much be able to guess which ones I’m going to talk about.

Last year saw a massive tectonic shift in the books I had on my pull list. I walked away from titles and creators that I had followed for years and started looking outside my comfort zone for new material. This was largely brought about by my move to New York City, which allowed me greater access to smaller titles, in addition to bringing me closer to the industry itself, which changed my perspective on comics collecting quite drastically.

When you can not only buy any variant cover of the new Spider-Man book that you want but also go out later in the week and get it signed by the guy who wrote it and shake his hand and tell him you had fun with the comic, it moves the whole hobby to a totally different place in your head. Suddenly you start to see where all these little packets of paper come from. It sinks in that they didn’t just blink into existence, that they actually started somewhere and that someone is on the other side of the page coming up with this stuff.

So there’s that. The other thing is that as the year went on I cared less and less about what was going on in the DCnUniverse until finally I got to the point where I didn’t care at all and walked away entirely. Last year really just felt like Marvel’s year for some reason, at least on my end, and although I love Grant Morrison’s writing and I love Batman and I was super into the new Wonder Woman series, I just felt like Marvel is my team. My party. And between Marvel NOW!, “The Avengers,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” and Sean Howe’s awesome book about the history of the House of Ideas, “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” I was completely and totally swayed. I went from just picking up Spider-Man books to wanting to know what was going on in the fictitious lives of all the Marvel heroes. Which brings me to my first pick of 2012 and my personal favorite title of the year, Matt Fraction and David Aja’s “Hawkeye.”

Personally, I never really gave a crap about Hawkeye before. I got that he was a lot of people’s favorite character, but he wasn’t a part of the X-Men and he wasn’t… well, Spider-Man, so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on him, since those two lines are really where my interests usually lied with Marvel stuff. He was an Avenger, and not even one of the major ones. I mean, I thought he was a total badass in Mark Millar’s “The Ultimates,” and I was happy that Jeremy Renner got to play him in “The Avengers” because I really liked him in “The Hurt Locker,” but I really didn’t know very much about him and never would’ve thought I’d be interested in his solo title.

What really got me curious about the Hawkeye book was the artwork. I would get on Tumblr and start seeing the stylish, minimal designs of the covers, which looked more like good advertising than superhero comic book covers, and David Aja’s interiors, with his strobe-effect layouts and Mazzuchelli-esque renderings, and it looked like my dream comic. It took me totally by surprise. What I was looking at was way more artistic and sophisticated than any book about the bow-and-arrow-guy from The Avengers has any business being. It looked more like something Image Comics would be publishing.

So I picked up the book and instantly got why so many people like this guy. He’s not a superhero, just a good dude who’s really skilled with a bow and he wants to help people and he has good intentions, but he’s not a thunder god or a super soldier. So he messes up. A lot. But you still love the guy. He lives out in Bed-Stuy (home of that boy, Biggie) where he watches out for his neighbors and protects his building like a modern day Robin Hood. He wears purple chucks and he sleeps around a bit and he has a dog and he has to have Tony Stark come over to fix his DVR for him. I know we all like to imagine that if we were superheroes we’d be like, Spider-Man or something, since he’s supposed to be the everyman and all, but in reality, at this point in life, we’d be somewhere closer to Clint Barton. He’s the everyman superhero for the modern twentysomething male. So yeah, it’s an easy book to relate to.

And it’s funny as hell. Probably the last book I thought was this funny was Warren Ellis’ “Nextwave,” but where that book was funny because it was parodying the Marvel Universe and characters like Devil Dinosaur and Fin Fang Foom, “Hawkeye” is funny because of the hell that writer Matt Fraction puts his character through. Hawkeye, being a regular guy who is expected to participate in the same missions as Wolverine and Captain America, gets his ass kicked. A lot. And the result of that is a hero that just feels like he can’t catch a break. He’s kind of a bullshit magnet and he reads like a guy who is just totally over all the drama that keeps coming his way. After all, this series is what he’s doing on his time off from being a superhero. These are his days off from getting thrown 30 stories onto a parked car by Hydra goons, and the poor guy can’t get a moment’s rest.

So when he hears people speaking in another language, you don’t get a translation, instead you get “Some Spanish sounding stuff!” or “French stuff. Wait, maybe some Italian, too?” And he doesn’t just fight regular mobsters, he fights the Tracksuit Draculas, Russian guys who dress in color coded tracksuits to denote their rank in the gang and who begin and end every sentence with the word “bro.” Even his recap page is asking you to take it easy on him: “This is what he’s doing when he’s not in the Avengers. That’s all you need to know.”

And then in between the comedy are very cute, poignant moments where Clint saves a stray dog’s life and decided to adopt it, or when he struggles to tell his sidekick/apprentice (Katie Bishop, the Hawkeye of the Young Avengers) that he likes her without sounding creepy or dickish. Endearing moments that allow you to empathize with the character and make the funny moments that much funnier because you really like all the characters in this book. And then on top of that each issue is full of break-neck action scenes, some of the best paced action in comics, a talent that Fraction and Aja honed years ago back when they, along with Ed Brubaker, were working on “The Immortal Iron Fist.” I mean, really, this series has everything. And nearly every issue is a done-in-one with the exception of the occasional two-parter. There’s no writing for the trade here, so you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

I guess above all, the thing that I enjoy most about Matt Fraction and David Aja’s “Hawkeye” is that it’s so smart that it makes me feel smart. And it’s so hip that it makes me feel hip for reading it. Like I read it and I get the same feeling that you’d get when you’ve discovered a band that no one else you know is really into, but they’re amazing and you get the feeling that in a few years everyone is going to be into them. Or at least you hope so. I read it and I want to talk more like Matt Fraction and I want to draw exactly like David Aja and I want to start wearing purple chucks and saying “bro” every other word, and no one will know why unless they read “Hawkeye.” So hopefully, now that you’ve read my column, you’ll be one of those people. Bro.

Originally published online at Sequart.com.

Review: Saga #10


This month’s issue of “Saga” saw the return of Marko and Alana’s spunky, disemboweled spectral babysitter, Izabel.  It also saw the potential demise of one of my favorite characters in the book, but let’s hold off on the spoilers for now.

Fiona Staples’ artwork continues to shine here. Her slick digital inking keeps the art loose and fluid, giving as much information as possible with the least amount of lines. Her beautiful digital paints then come in to fill in the blanks.

With this issue I’m really starting to see that, while Staples is certainly a skilled penciller and inker, it’s her coloring that does all the heavy lifting. If the cover to this issue alone doesn’t show you what she’s capable of, just take a look at the depth of the canyon on page two, panel two. It goes on for miles and it totally fleshes out the scene, with cool colors that tell you everything from what time of day it is to how the air must taste, but it’s simple enough that it allows the foreground image of Marko and Alana to really pop out at you. And the double-page spread in the center of the issue? Gorgeous.

Meanwhile, on the writing side of things, I did have some problems. Here’s where we kind of get into spoilers, so if you haven’t read the issue yet, consider yourself forewarned. First of all, I just wasn’t too happy with the Space Baby thing. The “Timesuck” as The Will called it. I understand that this was the infantile version of a fearsome space predator, but I didn’t really feel like it belonged in this comic.

Now granted, we’ve seen gigantic barbarians with their wrecking ball-sized scrotums hanging out and orange babysitter ghosts wearing a beanie and t-shirt while everyone else looks like they’re from a Kryptonian petting zoo, but come on. A big blobby baby that cries space goo? It’s a bit much, and even discredits some of the serious baby stuff going on with Hazel and Alana.

And secondly, are we really going to kill Lying Cat? What the hell? That’s like killing Chewbacca. She’s the perfect foil to The Will, a character that has already lost his ex-girlfriend earlier in the series. To be fair, this was just the cliffhanger to the issue, and for all we know Lying Cat might be rescued in the next one. Here’s hoping. Plus, I’m kinda starting to get the sense that The Will isn’t really the bad ass of the series, he’s just the hacky sack, the unfortunate schmuck who the author just can’t let have nice things. I’m really just starting to feel bad for him more than anything else, and originally I had thought this guy could be another Boba Fett. Oh well.

Anyway, a good issue, for the most part. Still a very strong series. Felt like it was getting a little derailed with this detour into space baby territory, but hopefully it gets back on track and keeps chugging forward. 

Why We Still Need Heroes

I am not sure how I stumbled across it, as I was so appalled by its content that I chose to quickly navigate away from it in disgust, but a few days ago I wound up reading some silly person’s column on Workers.org about why Americans should abandon their super-heroes. The column, titled “We don’t need superheroes,” tries to make a connection between fascism, classism, and super-heroes. Writer Caleb T. Maupin writes that in The Dark Knight Rises, “the police are portrayed as useless and restrained by civil liberties. So, in their place, like a caped George Zimmerman, Batman goes out to protect ‘law and order’ when oppressed people are duped into rising up.” Maupin then goes on to echo the tired argument that The Dark Knight Rises is pro-1% propaganda before reminding us all that a very small minority of wealthy people run everything, as if any of us had forgotten.

Maupin ends his column by saying that the solution to America’s problems is not to hold out for a savior figure but to band together and “seize society.” He then props up working class revolutionaries as “self-sacrificing, heroic individuals” before reminding us again not to wait for a savior. It’s really here that Maupin shoots himself in the foot. Surely he must know that super-heroes are a fictional phenomenon. People don’t go to Batman’s movies under the impression that they are watching newsreel footage of some valiant rich white man who is saving everyone. They go primarily to be entertained and, whether they know it or not, to be inspired.

Batman is a symbol, he is meant to inspire people. He is a man without super-powers who has decided to use the material means at his disposal to become more than a man, and he did it to help people. Nobody watches Batman films and then actually goes home and waits for a Batman figure to solve their problems. They watch them to see the difference one man can make, as depicted with fantastical elements and plots. Readers don’t put down their Batman comics and run around outside with a gun and an itchy trigger finger thinking that they’ll accomplish whatever it is that the police can’t do.

First of all, Batman is staunchly anti-gun, which completely nullifies the comparison to George Zimmerman as well as any belief that Maupin has seen the film that he is criticizing. Batman has also proven to dissuade others from taking the path of a vigilante without the (largely fictional) training and resources that only he himself can provide. The thesis of Batman is not “become a fascist, lawless authority figure,” it is simply an urban myth about a man with extraordinary means and talents that he employs for the greater good of his community.

One of the primary inspirations for the character of Batman is the pulp hero Zorro. The typical idea behind Zorro is that he’s a member of the upper class who lived in California in the 1800s and would secretly retreat to a cave at night, switch into some creepy black duds, and then hit the city as a swashbuckling hero for the downtrodden. Batman is, therefore, a 20th-century New York Zorro, plain and simple.

The main idea of these two heroes is not to paint the rich as saviors for the lower class, it’s to inspire imagination and to teach people that having wealth or status doesn’t exclude you from being morally responsible and helping your fellow man. The same can be said about the story of Robin Hood, a character who serves as the obvious inspiration for the Watson to Batman’s Sherlock Holmes: Robin, the Boy Wonder. Batman and Robin are more or less Zorro and Robin Hood. These are folk heroes that have rejected their social castes in order to help those less fortunate than themselves. (See also Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Buddha.)

So, at this point, I believe I’ve presented an acceptable counter-argument to Maupin’s piece. It is way out of line to say that Batman is a form of propaganda for the 1% and for gun-toting, fascist conservative wingnuts. But what’s even more out of line is the declaration in the title of Maupin’s piece that we don’t need super-heroes. We absolutely do need super-heroes. We always will. Super-heroes serve as escapism when times are tough, they inspire us to do great things when the chips are down, and they teach us important life lessons. They are not saviors – it’s still up to us to get our asses out of the fire – but they represent the idea of the savior within us all. They are our best qualities given form, and to paraphrase Grant Morrison, we can take any bad idea or mortal fear and pit it against the super-hero and the super-hero always wins. Super-heroes are the better idea; they are the embodiment of selflessness, rationality, responsibility, and compassion. We’re always going to need them.

[mild The Dark Knight Rises spoilers ahead]

Oh, and for the record, The Dark Knight Rises is not conservative propaganda or an indictment of the Occupy movement. It’s just a big dumb action movie. And if you want to get technical and connect the dots of half-baked political ideologies that are presented in the movie, you have to remember that Bane is not fighting for the 99%, he just says that to play to the sympathies of the middle and lower class while biding his time before the bomb detonates. He’s a charismatic terrorist / dictator, and he’s just trying to win people over by telling them what they want to hear before blowing everyone up. The movie makes this fact very clear. The true message of The Dark Knight Rises, if there is one, is that Batman can be anybody, and in the end, it’s a working-class kid, an orphaned cop, who (presumably) takes up the mantle of the Bat. And that is a pretty democratic theme, if you ask me.

Originally published online by Sequart.com.