The main event, of course, was comic’s own L’enfant terrible, Miller. His new book, Holy Terror began life in 2006 as Holy Terror, Batman! and was to detail Batman’s battle against Al-Qaeda-style terrorists after an attack on Gotham City.
According to Miller – who was rumored to have received a seven-figure advance from DC – as the project evolved he decided it was not a good fit for the Dark Knight.
“I’d pushed Batman as far as I really felt like he deserved pushing and this wasn’t Batman. So I reconfigured the character.”
Other rumors indicate that in a post-Iraq, post-Bush Doctrine world the idea of a project that Miller once proudly proclaimed as “a piece of propaganda” lost favor with higher brass at the original publishing house.
But whether it be for reasons of personal taste, corporate politics, or a combination of the two, Batman became The Fixer, a new Dirty Harry-inspired, superhero.
“This character is much more well adjusted in committing terrible acts of violence on very evil people.”
The presentation included several strange and even offensive images from the comic including a close-up of a masked character who resembled Watchmen‘s Rorschach with an oversized Star of David on his mask.
“I hope this book really pisses people off,” said Miller with a knowing grin.
“I was raised Catholic and I could tell you a lot about the Spanish Inquisition but the mysteries of the Catholic Church elude me. And I could tell you a lot about Al-Qeada, but the mysteries of Islam elude me too.”
And while there was noticeable discomfort from many in the audience at Miller’s words and drawings, which have always played heavily on hateful and bigoted images, often to great artistic result, there was also strong and vocal support from other contingents.
Several questions invoked ‘Fascism’ to describe Miller’s stances, questioning how his with-us-or-against-us attitude is philosophically distinguishable from that of the faceless ‘them’ to which he alluded throughout the panel, but Miller remained staunchly oblique about his attitudes toward his characters and their connections to the real world.
When the final questioner asked if Miller was concerned that this divisive new work might make future readers reconsider his oeuvre in a more harsh light, Miller curled his lip into a cocksure smile befitting of the Joker.
“Not at all.”
And the crowd went wild.