Since the original announcement that Frank Miller would be creating a sequel to 1986's "The Dark Knight Returns" fan anticipation has been extremely high. Questions of what "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" story will be about and how the art will differ from the original are thoughts on the minds of comic collectors far and wide.
Recently fandom has been given a small peak into the first issue of "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" when DC Comics solicitations were posted featuring the cover art to issue #1 plus some sample pages from the book which were seen in Diamond's Previews catalog. Today CBR News learned that the cover seen around the Internet will no longer be used in the final product, but in fact it's been changed and CBR News has been given an exclusive look at the new cover artwork.
DC Comics group editor Bob Schreck told CBR News Thursday that colorist Lynn Varley had changed the cover colors to issue #1, after having decided to approach it from a new angle, giving it a more industrial feel. Schreck explained that, like most other artists, as Miller and Varley travel down the road of the creative process, sometimes they choose to explore and go down different avenues of thought when approaching a given subject.
"Lynn simply rethought her initial take on the piece," Schreck told CBR News. "While her first choice was a valid way to go, she decided to go down this other road. Frank, Lynn and I, all agreed and this version of the cover colors were better suited for the overall tone of the book."
For this new series Varley is exploring new territory. On previous projects her coloring has always been hand painted. With "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" Varley is coloring the series completely on the computer, a first for her. Varley is also very much a part of the storytelling, lending her own interpretation to the story and artistic process, as evidenced by the cover art change.
For Schreck, working with Miller and Varley again is like revisiting old friends, making the production process a relatively painless one.
"No book is without its bumps and growing pains, but thanks to the fact that Frank, Lynn and I have worked together before, it's all been pretty smooth," Schreck said. "We all pretty much stay in constant contact. It's important for me to relay to them different ideas, marketing plans, and various concerns from the DC side. When it comes to the actual story, Frank and I sit down once every two weeks or so and he bounces ideas off me and I'll give him my feedback. Nothing really new there, the difference being that back in the 'Sin City' days we would have to do that by phone. Now that we're both in New York we can meet in our favorite restaurant and talk face-to-face.
"Part of my job is waving a red flag. Either; A, your first instinct was right, or B; challenging the creator's first instinct in order to explore a better, stronger way of getting a certain story point across."
As with any project there are certain expectations any person has and for Schreck his expectations have all been met and then some.
"I expected to be completely bowled over and surprised, and that's what I got," said Schreck. "Seeing the pages come in and the story beats we discussed realized...oh, my God! Talking with Frank and hearing what he's thinking of doing and then seeing it put into play, then watching that metamorphosis and watching it become bigger and bigger, or, in some instances, quieter... well it's been a whole series of happy surprises."
"This is Miller and Varley returning to this character they know very, very well and applying those 15 years and applying all that experience to create a new, richer, more seasoned take on Batman. This isn't your father's Dark Knight, this is Frank and Lynn approaching this with a fresh perspective. It's them100% in the now. Actually, as usual, it's them a little bit in the future."
"You just haven't seen anything like this before," Schreck continued. "This is something that stands on it's own and is not timid. If there's anything about it that is reminiscent of the first Dark Knight, it's the fact that it's bold and it doesn't sit their quietly. When you get done reading it you're definitely going to remember you read it."
Look for "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" in stores December 5th.
Edited October 5th, 2001, 12:00 PM PDT. CBR News incorrectly referred to title of the book and has changed all references.