"This isn't a mudhole. It's an operating table. And I'm the Surgeon." -the Goddamn Batman.

Ran across this screencap on Twitter recently. It's from an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called Legends of the Dark Knight that paid homage to three different eras of Batman's pop culture history. This segment is a shout out to the gloriously vicious mudhole brawl from Frank Miller's industry-bending graphic serial The Dark Knight Returns.
 
Legends came late in the Batman: TAS run, and feels like a love letter to Batman as a pop-culture icon, from a creative team nearing the end of its professional relationship with the caped crusader. I found the rest of the episode mildly entertaining, but I thought I would burst a blood vessel by the time this segment was over.  
Although they didn't quite ape Miller's rustic drawing style, they gave bats the greying outfit, yellow-less chest emblem, and corn-fed body type to leave no doubt that they knew their Dark Knight lore.  When he drops TDKR's most iconic line, followed by that bone- snapping sound (in a kid's cartoon, may I remind you), I pretty much achieved nerd nirvana (nerdvana?).

Eventually, The bros at Warner got around to making a feature-length Dark Knight Returns animated movie that revisits DKR's subplot of Batman versus the Mutant Leader.


 With it's combination of various combat traditions in the ring, including brutal wrestling techniques like Batman employs here, the rise of Mixed Martial Arts makes this scene from DKR's animated offspring even more relevant to American violence junkies than it was when Miller's signature work was first printed.

Reading that sentence back to myself, I'm reminded of a moment in the book Supergods when Grant Morrison suggests that the superhero narrative might permanently migrate from comics to the screen, now that technology has made it easier to tell their larger-than-life stories in live action. While the price of making superhero movies and tv shows is coming down, the price of making, selling, and delivering comics (at least paper comics) is actually rising. And the audience is probably easier to reach on tv than to convince to read a comic.

Don't get me wrong. Like a student of "the sweet science" who  refuses to acknowledge the rising popularity of the so-called senseless brawling of mixed martial arts, I am an acolyte of comics. As such, I totally LOVE to see the comics medium influencing other, more mainstream media. I do find it bothersome when decision-makers in those industries start driving decisions in the comics industry too much. I am an advocate for a two-way synergy between the comics industry and other maker industries (movies, teevee, animation, videogames, music, fine art, etc.), but there's definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it... 

But that's another article altogether.

As for this instance, Frank Miller and DC Comics totally owned these cartoon adaptations. You can see the love of the original works all over them! 

That's how you do it.

Peace,
-samax 
Samax Amen is a professional illustrator and cartoonist, but even YOU can afford to hire him to draw your characters.
GhettoManga.com 
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