Now that I've ragged on dark comics, I just picked up issue No. 1 of Batman: Kings of Fear. Judging it by the cover, I actually thought it would be darker and scarier than it was.
The issue begins as a pretty good Joker story and evolves to give cameos to a lot of Batman's rogues. While many of the bad guys don't play a major role, their inclusion was fun nonetheless.
This book's greatest strength was its art. Kelley gave us colorful, well-drawn fights, which brought the action to life. For $3.99 this book is my Current Pick.
Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Man 1: Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird.
Woman: It’s a plane
Man 2: It’s Superman!
Narrator: Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands. And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way. And now another exciting episode in the adventures of Superman.
I remember watching The Adventures of Superman every Sunday after church when I was a kid. Between George Reeves' depiction of the character and what I saw on The Super Friends, I knew what Superman was about long before I ever picked up a comic book. Clark Kent's alter-ego was a shining beacon of hope clad in bright colors to symbolize the positive qualities of truth, justice, and fair play which he represented.
This image survived Christopher Reeve's cinematic portrayal, TV'S Lois & Clark series, and the animated series. In 2006, Brandon Routh donned a darker version of the time honored uniform, complete with a dark red S. I grumbled all the way to the theater, but forgave him once I saw his effort to capture the spirit of Reeve's performance.
Fast forward to 2013's Man of Steel travesty. Not only was the traditional garb a shade away from being black, but Cavill played Superman as a dark and brooding hero. The filmmakers, for some reason, turned Superman into a super powered version of Batman. That's OK though, because the next movie gave guns to, traditionally gun hating, Batman, turning him into a well funded version of the Punisher.
If those bastardizations weren't atrocious enough, DC will be kicking off their streaming service with a live action Teen Titans series. To unveil the series, DC showed a trailer at San Diego Comic-Con, in which the Dick Grayson version of Robin says, "F%#k Batman!" then shoots a bunch of thugs with automatic pistols. I can see Jason Todd making such a statement before going ballistic on a bunch of bad guys, but it doesn't feel right coming from a boy scout like Dick Grayson.
Meanwhile, Aquaman has adopted the look of a Dothraki warrior and Captain America has blackened his star. Granted, the Captain America movies are pulling from his Nomad story arch. Yet, Captain America only used the nomad personna for five issues (#180 - #184) back in 1974. When Marvel has a limited amount of screen time to tell Captain America stories, referencing a five issue story arc from forty years ago, in order to make the character dark, seems like a bit of a unnecessarily deep cut which ignores the overall spirit of the character.
I'm not saying there's not room for dark comic book characters on the big screen. Batman, Venom, Punisher, and Spawn will always be staples in the comic book realm. That being said, I see no reason to force traditionally bright characters into that dark role. Keep your dark characters where they belong, but keep Superman, Captain America, and alike as bright symbols of hope.