Event Title

“This time is ours. This world is ours. The power is ours.” The Religion of the Dark Knight

Mentor 1

G. Christopher Williams

Location

Union 181

Start Date

24-4-2015 1:00 PM

Description

The primary focus of my presentation will be to explore the relationship between DC superheroes and mythology, religious iconography, and social structures or institutions in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Miller’s work is particularly interesting in this regard given that as opposed to Marvel comics, which has built a reputation on creating relatable human beings with super powers (Spider-Man at the end of the day is really Peter Parker) the mythology within the DC universe tends to favor the “super being”, characters who at their core are the god-like hero or extraordinary figure while their alter-ego is the disguise (Bruce Wayne at the end of the day is really Batman). In The Myth of the Superhero, Marco Arnaudo observes that “authors found myth to be a rich source of inspiration” with famous gods or heroes from Greek mythology like Hercules or Athena providing the context for Wonder Woman’s origin and universe, with taglines like “as beautiful as Aphrodite” or “swifter than Hermes” being featured in every Wonder Woman issue until the 1970’s (14). This specific characterization of DC superheroes as gods or super-beings is constantly on display in both of Miller’s stories. For example, in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Green Lantern reaches the point where he doesn’t need to wear his ring to utilize his powers with Batman saying “[h]e used to need a ring. He used to need a lantern. Now he is one. He is pure will. Sheer power.” (Miller 176). By removing the ring (the external source of power), Miller asserts that Hal Jordan is Green Lantern, that his abilities and everything about him that makes him “super” comes from an internal source (Hal’s “will”), which in turn makes his inherent identity “super”. This characterization ultimately works to set up Miller’s argument for what the superhero should be in relationship to the less than super world around them. While superheroes throughout comic book history have adamantly served and submitted themselves to systems of law or government, Miller asserts that these are systems of man and like man are prone to the forces of corruption, cruelty, and greed. Therefore like the Gods of myth and legend, Miller asserts that the superhero embodies the absolute ideals or values that we aspire to and should therefore exist above or outside of these systems of man and the inherent human weaknesses that plague them. Like Batman, only by embracing their own extraordinary nature can they face the evils of this world, god-like, and incorruptible in their resolve.

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Apr 24th, 1:00 PM

“This time is ours. This world is ours. The power is ours.” The Religion of the Dark Knight

Union 181

The primary focus of my presentation will be to explore the relationship between DC superheroes and mythology, religious iconography, and social structures or institutions in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Miller’s work is particularly interesting in this regard given that as opposed to Marvel comics, which has built a reputation on creating relatable human beings with super powers (Spider-Man at the end of the day is really Peter Parker) the mythology within the DC universe tends to favor the “super being”, characters who at their core are the god-like hero or extraordinary figure while their alter-ego is the disguise (Bruce Wayne at the end of the day is really Batman). In The Myth of the Superhero, Marco Arnaudo observes that “authors found myth to be a rich source of inspiration” with famous gods or heroes from Greek mythology like Hercules or Athena providing the context for Wonder Woman’s origin and universe, with taglines like “as beautiful as Aphrodite” or “swifter than Hermes” being featured in every Wonder Woman issue until the 1970’s (14). This specific characterization of DC superheroes as gods or super-beings is constantly on display in both of Miller’s stories. For example, in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Green Lantern reaches the point where he doesn’t need to wear his ring to utilize his powers with Batman saying “[h]e used to need a ring. He used to need a lantern. Now he is one. He is pure will. Sheer power.” (Miller 176). By removing the ring (the external source of power), Miller asserts that Hal Jordan is Green Lantern, that his abilities and everything about him that makes him “super” comes from an internal source (Hal’s “will”), which in turn makes his inherent identity “super”. This characterization ultimately works to set up Miller’s argument for what the superhero should be in relationship to the less than super world around them. While superheroes throughout comic book history have adamantly served and submitted themselves to systems of law or government, Miller asserts that these are systems of man and like man are prone to the forces of corruption, cruelty, and greed. Therefore like the Gods of myth and legend, Miller asserts that the superhero embodies the absolute ideals or values that we aspire to and should therefore exist above or outside of these systems of man and the inherent human weaknesses that plague them. Like Batman, only by embracing their own extraordinary nature can they face the evils of this world, god-like, and incorruptible in their resolve.