You know, a lot has been said about the importance and significance of Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and I thought if I was going to write a recommendation about it that I would have to write some big, long, self-aggrandizing, over-analyzing article.
But, nuts to that. Just know it’s probably the best Batman book ever.
Created in 1986, Dark Knight Returns was one of the first stories to take a look at a possible future version of a major character.
Apparently, Batman’s future is none too good. The world has become a bit more dystopian than one would hope, as not only has Batman retired, but all superheroes have been outlawed.
That is, all superheroes except for Superman, who’s become a government pawn.
As Gotham City falls into a black hole of crime and lawlessness, Bruce Wayne decides that maybe the world needs Batman again and the government can be damned.
Flanked by a new, teenaged female Robin, Batman returns to the streets, which has the adverse effect of inspiring his old villains to get back into the act as well. His return doesn’t create peace, but anarchy, and in a world where Ronald Reagan is still president by ways of abuse of power, using Superman as a deterrent against other world powers, maybe anarchy isn’t such a bad idea.
As Batman battles Two-Face and the Joker and struggles to control the gangs of Gotham City before the city boils over into chaos, the U.S. government decides maybe it’s best to dispatch Superman to deal with the threat they see in the Dark Knight.
Needless to say, the two do not see eye-to-eye these days. Maybe he should have stayed retired.
Having already passed its 30th anniversary, it’s amazing how relevant and engaging this book still is. Despite its dark undertones, it’s probably the most fun you’ll ever have reading about Batman.
The art is gorgeous, painted with incredible watercolours, and the story is truly Batman as his best.
I like the idea of an older, much heavier, slightly out of shape and out-of-touch Batman whose new ideas of crime fighting borders fascism and insanity.
Batman coming out of retirement to take on the world is such a different and unique story for Batman; he’s always been in control, he’s always been the leader, and now he’s outdated and has been left behind. But this geriatric crime fighter will be damned if he sits back and watches the world destroy itself from his rocking chair.
Nick Klie is manager of High Octane Comics. For more, visit 250 Third Ave. or call 250-377-8444.