Please don’t flame me. I’m attempting to open a fun, if somewhat nerdy, discussion…
When discussing Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns, critics will often throw around the term “deconstruction.” But, I’ve never been clear why this term has become so popular. (I mean, it’s a big word, and it makes people feel smart when they use it; but I’m unclear of their intent.)
From what I understand, the term “deconstruction” is often used in philosophy or religion. And it’s used to label the group of theories that, “it’s hard to objectively discuss a topic, because the words that we use have subjective meanings.” Meaning, if you really wanted to get to the objective Truth of something, human languages wouldn’t allow you to do it.
So, how does this apply to The Dark Knight Returns? Does Frank Miller somehow peel back the “language of comics" and objectively tell the Truth of Batman? Has the author introduced the reader to a new objective Truth that cannot be questioned?
For Watchmen, I’ll be a bit more permissive. Has Alan Moore introduced the readers to a new form of comic story-telling?
Personally, I don’t think so. I love these comics immensely, and I have a massive amount of respect for the talent of the creators. But I don’t think the term “deconstruction” applies.
On the other hand, I think Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is a respectful attempt to begin a discussion on the language of comics. And I think, perhaps, Alan Moore’s Promethea and/or Grant Morrison’s Animal Man may be closer to comic deconstruction.
But again, while these comics bend the rules of comic story-telling, they haven’t abandoned the language of comic story- telling.