I don’t read many comics these days, but Frank Miller’s name still means something to me. I first noticed Miller as a pre-teen digging on his early 80’s work in Daredevil, where he crafted dark and complex storylines with moral conundrums well beyond what most super hero fodder addressed, not to mention creating one of my favorite characters of the era, Elektra (and no, we NEVER speak of the movie, same goes for Daredevil). He then went on to establish Wolverine as a feature character in a four part saga, in what was the character’s first headlining saga.
Following the success of Wolverine, Miller hopped from Marvel to DC where he would create what I remember as the first graphic novel, Ronin (I assume there were predecessors in that format, but if so, Ronin became the title that brought the term to public attention and opened the floodgates). DC must have given Miller full creative control because Ronin was a comic unlike any other I had encountered, up to that point. The story of a reincarnated, roaming, masterless samurai returning to a dystopic world eight centuries removed from his, seemed as though it was approached from a more cinematic perspective than any other comic. Miller wrote and drew the story, but had Lynn Varley come in to paint. With minimal dialogue, the art would carry the story. Miller’s strong, dark inking effectively contrasted Varley’s striking use of color, looking like nothing so much as a futuristic, chiaroscuro chanbara film noir, benefiting from the addition of such a diverse, but specifically employed, color palette. The use, and frequent lack, of panels seemed revolutionary, drawing the eye very specifically across and over the page. It was as though the term “graphic novel” HAD to be created for this series to elevate it from all that had come before (all respect due to comic creators past. RIP King Kirby) and usher in a new era in comic writing and art. Needless to say, it was an impression that left me forever scarred.
All this leads me to my initial question: When are we going to see Ronin on the screen? For the better part of the past decade, there have been tales of adaptations, for both big and small screen, in various stages of development. At one point, Darren Aronofsky was slated to bring his vision to theaters (which was a very exciting proposition), however, most recently, it appears that the Syfy Channel has stepped up to the plate, which with their successes with the original series Helix and 12 Monkeys, could, assuming the involvement of Miller and/or the right team, be a very good thing. Unfortunately, the last update I’ve seen on that news is nearly a year old, which has me wondering, will Ronin again be shelved? It’s Frank Miller’s birthday, gimme some news!!!