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7. Marshall Rogers
Marshall Rogers shot to stardom with his short and brilliant run on Detective Comics with writer Steve Englehart and inker Terry Austin. The run was essentially a Batman’s Greatest Hits style story, with Englehart trying to make his mark quickly with takes on Batman’s greatest foes like Penguin and Joker, as well as telling a Robin story and introducing a love interest for Batman (Walter Simonson would draw Silver St. Cloud first, but Rogers defined her). Rogers actually stuck around on Detective even when Englehart left, co-creating the third Clayface with writer Len Wein before leaving the book.
Besides some short Batman work here and there, Rogers didn’t return to the character until an acclaimed Legends of the Dark Knight story by legendary writer Archie Goodwin. Rogers then reteamed with Steve Englehart for a sequel to their original run in Dark Detective. Tragically, Rogers passed away before they could finish work on a second sequel.
Rogers’ distinctive artwork on his Detective run was a great influence on later artists’ depiction of the Joker (while Rogers, of course, took from Neal Adams’ Joker, as well). His artwork perfectly captured a film noir feel that many Batman artists have attempted to evoke in the years since.
Check out this amazing sequence and see how the work is somehow so incredibly detailed, so strikingly moody and yet still dynamic and coherent in its storytelling…
6. Frank Miller
Frank Miller first drew Batman in a Christmas story, of all places, in a DC Special Series collection of Christmas tales. Miller had already been drawing Daredevil for Marvel for a few months at that point, but he obviously had not yet blown up as a star artist (I don’t believe Daredevil had even returned to a monthly schedule at that point in time) – he did not writer his first issue of Daredevil until a number of months later. That’s when he exploded as a comic book superstar. After finishing his run on Daredevil, he went to DC Comics to write and draw the original series Ronin. He followed that up with Batman: The Dark Knight (most commonly known as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most famous comic book stories of all-time, and the story tells the tale of a dark future where Bruce Wayne has to return to being Batman again, only in the end to realize that he needed to do a lot more than just be Batman. That next step came in 2002’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again. While the first story was a dark one, told with tight pencils and tight Klaus Janson inks and Lynn Varley colors, the new story was a bright one – a story about the return of superheroes to a world that desperately needs them. As a result, Miller and Varley intentionally went with a looser style but damned if they didn’t keep the same powerful dynamism of their first Batman collaboration…
The art on Dark Knight Strikes Again doesn’t get nearly the attention that Miller’s other work gets, which is a shame, because as you can see, while it is a whole different animal, it’s an excellent animal.
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