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The Green Knight Returns (The Many Nations of North America)

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The Green Knight Returns was a 200-page sequential artwork (or 'comic book', to use the terminology of the 1940s) by Frank Miller, a Vermonter who drew and wrote the work in order to support the Second Vermont Republic. Only one issue of the work, which Miller intended to be the beginning of a continuing series, was completed. Although copies were made, almost all were destroyed in a firebombing raid by New England bombers during a raid on Montpelier, which also killed Miller.

However, one copy survived, which was forwarded by Zach Braff, a New York soldier, to his friend Alan Moore, an anarchist recluse in Cornwall, England. There, Moore was inspired to continue Moore's work, and continued his saga. The Green Knight Returns became world famous as the work that sparked off the Comic Book Revolution. A Californian film version was released in December 2006 to massive public approval.

Synopsis

As a child, Bruce Wayne, a Vermont millionaire, was forced to watch his parents gunned down by New England soldiers during the Winter Rising. While appearing a vacuous socialite to the outside world, he trained himself to become The Bat-Man, a guerrilla fighter who fought for Vermont independence.

However, he failed. In the present day (allowing Miller to lampoon King Edward I of New England), Wayne has given up his mantle as the Bat-Man, and sunken into despondancy. At the same time, the Second Vermont Republic is fighting a war for its survival, with bands of New England soldiers looting and killing across the countryside. Wayne is forced to return to his old guerrilla identity to protect his country.

The Bat-Man, also known as The Green Knight, strikes fear into the heart of New England, especially once he slays The Man Who Laughs, a psychopathic New England soldier who Wayne hideously scarred ten years before, and temporarily frees Vermont. In the end, however, he is forced to fight his old ally Ultiman, the hero of New York, who confrontes Bat-Man in order to stop the spread of socialism. The Bat-Man manages to defeat the superpowered Ultiman (a novel concept at the time; the cover of the graphic novel, depicting Ultiman crushing the Bat-Man with a car, aroused considerable attention at the time), but spares his life, expiring from a heart attack shortly afterwards. By his victory against Ultiman, the Bat-Man delivers a stirring message of hope to the Second Vermont Republic, and inspires them to fight for freedom.

Cultural Impact

After its publication, the book, which was not expected to have a wide audience, had an enormous cultural impact. The notion of ‘sequential art books’ had briefly been popular in the 1940s, but was largely regarded as a passing fad; The Green Knight Returns helped make such books mainstream. In addition, the book quickly dispelled any perception of such books as ‘childish’, with dark, adult themes dealt with within; The Man Who Laughs’ murder of Jason Todd, an accomplice of the Bat-Man’s, attracted a critical uproar due to its graphic violence.

On the whole, the comic was hugely successful, and sparked a series of similar books in many genres, which quickly became known as the Comic Book Revolution.

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