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The Dark Knight Reverses: Is Frank Miller's Batman Frontal Or Not?

Frank Miller's cover to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is causing a mini-social media storm thirty-seven years after it was published.

Article Summary

  • Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns cover sparks debate on its visual perspective.
  • The iconic artwork, illustrating Batman with a lightning backdrop, sold for a staggering $2.4M.
  • But recent variant covers and Miller's own rough sketches ignited the front vs. back facing controversy.
  • Industry heavyweights take to TwitterX to discuss the enigmatic orientation of Miller's Batman.

The cover to The Dark Knight Returns is a minimalistic classic, an outline by Frank Miller, with a lightning strike and colour from Lynne Varley. The original cover artwork sold for $2,400,000. But have we been looking at it wrong all these years?

The Dark Knight Reverses: Is Batman Facing Front Or Back?

Because, obviously, that is Batan jumping away from us, towards the lightning strike. That's certainly how Zack Snyder saw it when he referenced it in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

The Dark Knight Reverses: Is Batman Facing Front Or Back?
Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice screencap

And that's how I saw it, too. But not everyone did. And Frank Miller's contribution to the lightning variant covers for Thunderbolts #1 caused quite a stir.

The Hawkeye one facing us, the Captain America one (facing slightly away) by Miller. Then there was this cover by Mark Texeira to the AWA comic book Knighted. Facing front.

The Dark Knight Reverses: Is Batman Facing Front Or Back?

And then there were Frank Miller's roughs from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns Gallery Edition. Which is as definitive as you get.

The Dark Knight Reverse: Is Frank Miller's Batman Full Frontal Or Not?

I have been wrong all these decades. But maybe Frank Miller himself had forgotten. The great and the good took to TwitterX to hash it out.

Matt Ferguson posted "This is this years is the dress black or gold then. Is Frank Miller's Batman front or back facing? (My preference is front facing, but it does work both ways.)"

Andy Khouri posted "Before this week I'd always seen Batman as back-facing here. Now I can see it both ways. I wonder if Frank did it on purpose."

Mitch Gerads: I've never thought of it any way but back facing, but now looking at it through a front facing lens, that would be a VERY Frank Miller pose! World = Rocked

Andy Diggle: I mean, whatever, its fine — no, it's GREAT — either way. A perfect, all-time classic cover. But jumping TOWARDS you is always more grabby and dynamic than jumping away from you. Especially when it's F-CKING BATMAN. BATMAN: HE'S GOING TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE *HE'S NOT RUNNING AWAY, THAT'S NOT A THING HE DOES.

Si Spurrier: Perfectly side-on profile, you unbelievable nerds.

Okay, now do these ones:

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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