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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank…

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

by Frank Miller

Other authors: Klaus Janson (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Dark Knight (1), Batman

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English (63)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
I've always heard that The Dark Knight Returns is one of the best comic books of all time. My understanding is that it breathed new life into the industry and completely changed how people perceived comics. I was pretty excited to finally sit down and read such an historic graphic novel. Unfortunately, I was severely disappointed.

Really, this is not a good book. Bear in mind, I'm reading this in 2012, well after its historical significance can be truly felt, and with the full knowledge of Frank Miller's abysmal All-Stars run as well as his fascist rants against the Occupy Movement. I could have been biased reading this book.

The first book is great. Batman struggles with the decision to don the cowl again, then finally does and kicks some bad guy butt. It's very satisfying. Book one is a real joy, but things quickly take a poor turn.

Harvey Dent has reconstructive surgery, a plot thread that goes virtually nowhere. Batman fights a member of the Mutants, Gotham's new menace, but ultimately even that gets resolved in a strange way in book 4 (which I won't spoil here).

Batman also recruits Carrie Kelly as the new Robin. This is totally bizarre. Unlike Dick Grayson, Carrie has no real tragedy strike her. Whereas Batman could feel that Dick shared his pain about the death of his parents, Carrie's family just seems to be liberal, which I guess is tragic enough for Miller. He puts a 13 year old girl in harms way and barely justifies it - Carrie's presence is almost completely useless, and her character is bland and motivation-less.

The Joker makes a return, which is somewhat satisfying, though his character seems greatly toned down, which is a shame. Jim Gordon retires, though far too much of the 4-issue run is devoted to him given that he has stepped down as Commissioner.

Most ridiculous is the use of Superman, now a tool of the American military. He is eventually called upon to keep Batman in check, and the two of them duke it out with a surprise appearance by the Green Arrow. This whole sequence, which takes up most of issue 4, is utterly ridiculous and completely out of nowhere. About halfway through book 3, Frank Miller stops giving his characters any motivation to do the things they are doing, so by this point any semblance of motivation is long-gone.

Miller also relies on a staple of poor writing - endless sequences of news reporters explaining on the evening news what's going on. These reports, and much of the rest of the dialogue, completely drags on.

Overall this is a nice idea for a story, but handled far more interestingly in Kingdom Come. I think this book relies largely on its place in history for how well-regarded it is, but it's really not particularly good by today's standards. ( )
  rodhilton | Nov 14, 2014 |
Deserves its classic status for the transformative concept of an aging Batman returning to duty in an ambivalent city while suffering from the aches and pains associated with his age. The images are distinctive and beautiful and the overall atmosphere created by these comics/graphic novel is unique and exciting. In two of the chapters it also creates a fascinating Superman character who is an ambivalent tool of the U.S. government activated to fight cold war battles while doing minute calculations of how his actions will minimize the threats to human (and animal) life.

In telling its stories, the Dark Knight Returns traverses a wide range from Gotham's villains to the President of the United States and much in between, with large sections narrated by a Greek chorus-like device of newscasters or arguing talking heads on TV screens.

But, at least for me, it still suffers from plots that at times are overly elaborate and hard to follow, drawing on comic book mythologies I'm not familiar with, and has cartoonish set piece battles. It seems like it is just about as good as a comic book can get, but (apologies to fans of the genre), it is still a comic book. ( )
1 vote nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
I read this back in the early 1990s, but wanted to return to it after seeing Dark Knight Rises. Frank Miller's dystopian future Gotham is brilliantly rendered. Having gained a little perspective since my early adolescence, I was a bit dismayed at how many parallels there were to our current political atmosphere. I was also pleasantly surprised to recognize some parallels between this storyline and Alan Moore's Watchmen, which came out around the same time period.

Back in the 1990s, this may have been my first exposure to a Batman comic book. (I had the leather bound collection with Year One and one other Miller Batman story, but that has disappeared through the years.) Upon that first reading, I was confused about characters and back stories referenced here, but they were much clearer to me on this second go round.

Fans of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise will find some of his source material here, and old comic book fans can rest assured that this classic story stands the test of time. ( )
  Bradley_Kramer | May 15, 2014 |
The Batman is old and decides to no more crime fighting... Crime on the streets is on the rise. Bruce Wayne races on a race track and Alfred is probably dead. Then a little girl shows her bravery in front of a street gang... I love the way the details are shown, drawn and are purposely made the way they are. ( )
  zomicks | Mar 26, 2014 |
After the death of a Robin, Bruce Wayne has gone into retirement for some time but finds himself constantly fighting with himself to release the Batman again. Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon is about to forced into retirement, a fact that hasn't stopped a gang of teenage mutants from threatening to kill him. Over at Arkham Asylum, Harvey Dent is getting ready to face the outside world again as a rehabilitated citizen while the Joker is quietly plotting something nefarious. And, Superman is working behind the scenes with the government, purportedly to prevent the Cold War from breaking out into a full-scale war. Against all of this backdrop, Bruce Wayne finds he cannot continue to fight the battle within him for the Batman to re-emerge and he once again take the streets of Gotham City, enacting his own sense of justice as the caped crusader.

This book is considered one of the highlights of the comics medium and has been much lauded by many. Having heard about how wonderful it is for so many years now, I was severely disappointed by it. This was not simply a matter of "oh, I see how this was groundbreaking at the time, but now it's so passé." I honestly couldn't see how this book was so great. I found there was so much going on in it that most of the subplots did not get a chance to be fully fleshed out. Bruce Wayne just seemed far too old at this point and so many years removed from the game to be able to jump so quickly back into fighting all kinds of different enemies with relative ease. Personally, the crossovers in comics has never been something that appeals to me much, so the whole addition of Superman in a book that's meant to be all about Batman/Bruce Wayne's inner turmoil just seemed out of place.

The constant use of TV news anchors delivering headlines or hosting point-counterpoint arguments about the Batman started to feel old quickly. However, they did bring up interesting points about how the Batman was viewed by the general public and in that way also serve to question the reader about how he/she should react to the vigilante's actions. This was an interesting twist, as I feel like most Batman comics just automatically assume for the reader that one should blindly root for Batman and never question his motives as anything but honorable while if a similar vigilante character were to exist, most of us would not be as fond of him as in real life as we are in fiction. But Miller's Batman here is so very dark that this question ends up becoming unnecessary. I'm not sure that many are still rooting for Batman by the end of this comic. But perhaps that is just my take on it.

Despite the addition of a female police commissioner and a teenage girl as Robin, there was such an undercurrent of misogyny throughout the book that it left a bad taste in my mouth. In some ways these more subtle cuts toward women were far worse than the almost laughable ridiculous portrayal of women in Miller's Sin City comics, where the female characters were almost always all naked or half-naked and had hardly any role to play beyond prompting the male "hero" to act.

All in all, I was disappointed by this book as I had really been hoping for something amazing. Instead, I found it rather subpar, and I would recommend a variety of other Batman comics over this one. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Oct 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
"The stories are convoluted, difficult to follow and crammed with far too much text. The drawings offer a grotesquely muscle-bound Batman and Superman, not the lovable champions of old.... If this book is meant for kids, I doubt that they will be pleased. If it is aimed at adults, they are not the sort I want to drink with."

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Millerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Janson, KlausIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Costanza, JohnLetterersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varley, LynnColoristsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to Will Jungkuntz 1955 - 1985
First words
I've got the home stretch all to myself when the readings stop making sense.
The time has come. You know it in your soul. For I am your soul... you cannot escape me... you are puny, you are small—you are nothing—a hollow shell, a rusty trap that cannot hold me—smoldering, I burn you—burning you, I flare, hot and bright and fierce and beautiful—you cannot stop me—not with wine or vows or the weight of age—you cannot stop me but still you try—still you run—you try to drown me out... but your voice is weak...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 156389341X, Hardcover)

If any comic has a claim to have truly reinvigorated the genre, then The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller--known also for his excellent Sin City series and his superb rendering of the blind superhero Daredevil--is probably the top contender. Batman represented all that was wrong in comics and Miller set himself a tough task taking on the camp crusader and turning this laughable, innocuous children's cartoon character into a hero for our times. The great Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, the arguably peerless Watchmen) argued that only someone of Miller's stature could have done this. Batman is a character known well beyond the confines of the comic world (as are his retinue) and so reinventing him, while keeping his limiting core essentials intact, was a huge task.

Miller went far beyond the call of duty. The Dark Knight is a success on every level. Firstly it does keep the core elements of the Batman myth intact, with Robin, Alfred the butler, Commissioner Gordon, and the old roster of villains, present yet brilliantly subverted. Secondly the artwork is fantastic--detailed, sometimes claustrophobic, psychotic. Lastly it's a great story: Gotham City is a hell on earth, street gangs roam but there are no heroes. Decay is ubiquitous. Where is a hero to save Gotham? It is 10 years since the last recorded sighting of the Batman. And things have got worse than ever. Bruce Wayne is close to being a broken man but something is keeping him sane: the need to see change and the belief that he can orchestrate some of that change. Batman is back. The Dark Knight has returned. Awesome. --Mark Thwaite

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:33 -0400)

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After ten years away from the public eye, a wave of violence in Gotham City brings Batman back as a vigilante.

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