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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986)

by Frank Miller (Writer/Penciller), John Costanza (Letterer), Klaus Janson (Inker), Lynn Varley (Colourist)

Other authors: Klaus Janson (Inker)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Dark Knight (1), Batman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,8471041,405 (4.16)79
"Together with inker Klaus Janson and colorist Lynn Varley, writer/artist Frank Miller completely reinvents the legend of Batman in his saga of a near-future Gotham City gone to rot, ten years after the Dark Knight's retirement. This masterpiece of modern comics storytelling, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, brings to vivid life a dark world and an even darker man. The Dark Knight returns in a blaze of fury, taking on a whole new generation of criminals and matching their level of violence. He is soon joined by a new Robin--a girl named Carrie Kelley, who proves to be just as invaluable as her predecessors. But can Batman and Robin deal with the threat posed by their deadliest enemies, after years of incarceration have made them into perfect psychopaths? And more important, can anyone survive the coming fallout from an undeclared war between the superpowers -- or the clash of what were once the world's greatest heroes? Celebrate thirty years of one of the most influential stories ever told in the comics medium with the undisputed classic BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, now with a new cover and introduction"--… (more)
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» See also 79 mentions

English (98)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
I'm not familiar with Batman comics, so maybe there was stuff here that would've held more meaning if I knew, say, what happened to Jason (I'm familiar with the broad strokes but haven't read the comic, itself) or what Oliver was spouting off about (yeah, I have no context for this at all). But most of this just seemed nonsensical.

Why return to crime-fighting at all, Bruce? Is it PTSD? If so, the deployment of that motivation needed to be a lot more consistent. Are you suffering from dementia? That would certainly be in keeping with all the harping on about how old and slow you've gotten, but you seem a little too sharp to be struggling with an age-eaten brain. Am I just supposed to assume you've lost your effing mind? Because there needed to be more Killing and Maiming (instead of navel-gaze-y philosophizing about it), if so.

Without any of this to go on, this entire comic feels like an excuse to plunge the Batman into DARKNESS. (No, really. Like DARK DARKNESS. Like we're not messing around. Like fighting crime means the ABYSS will STARE BACK. And shit.) Maybe I'm too old or have read too much Profiler!Mulder fanfiction or remember too clearly how it felt to read Watchmen early on in my comics-reading life, but this didn't feel like a fresh, startling take on crime-fighting or superheroes or violence or chaos or the corruption of power or...anything. It felt mostly like a treatise on how growing old in your career will make you bad at it.

...Which. I appreciate. Because there are way too many old-guard authors still writing books who need to be told to either stop writing or get a better editor. But this seems an odd focus for a Batman comic, let alone a legendary Batman comic. And the momentary glimpses of Bruce's realization that he kinda sucks at his job don't make for compelling literature.

And all that other stuff? The navel-gaze-y bits about how killing the killers might be the only way to stop the cycle of violence...or how the world only makes sense if you make it! (what? is that a serious existential question or just poor traumatized Bruce trying to sound tough?)...or how vigilantism is, like, too big to judge in crime-ridden Gotham. All of that seems so narrow in scope, so petulant and childish.

Reading this, I had the exact opposite experience that I had whilst reading Superman: Red Son. That book asks some serious and terrifying questions about power and how we justify its use and where those ideas originate from and how little control we might have over their formation. This book, on the other hand, was akin to being stuck with That Asshole at a cocktail party, ranting about his childhood and his therapy and how everyone who disagrees with him is automatically wrong. No big questions, no insights into the greater world...just a guy reveling in the muck so people will think he's edgy and gritty and, like, DARK. (And shit.) ( )
  slimikin | Mar 27, 2022 |
maybe the most overrated comic of all time? miller takes the idea of ":what if batman was darker", and people really love it. some of the ideas are cool... the storyline with the other superheroes is cool. but its REALLY not that good, and its telling that the sequel to this sucked. i think people realized that the whole thing stinks, and this is coming from someone who can handle dark comics or themes. now that comic book writers have more freedom to do what they want, i think the dark knight returns is more important for its impact on comics and movies than actually, being good

The Killing Joke would be my gold standard for a darker Batman comic. ( )
  rottweilersmile | Feb 28, 2022 |
There probably isn't anything I can say about this book that hasn't been said already. With that said, read it if you haven't already. ( )
  ennuiprayer | Jan 14, 2022 |
Well it only took me close to 30 years before I read this but I was blown away by the story, it was so close to perfect that I had to give it 5 full stars. If you enjoyed Watchmen I'm almost certain that you should read this book about a superhero who got old. 1986 was an amazing year for comics. ( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
One of the best books I've ever read. Frank Miller truly understands the character and psyche of Batman, and his commentary on society is topnotch.

I simply can't recommend this book enough. If you want to read Batman graphic novels then this should be at the very beginning. ( )
  bdgamer | Sep 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (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 (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miller, FrankWriter/Pencillerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Costanza, JohnLetterermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Janson, KlausInkermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Varley, LynnColouristmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Janson, KlausIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kane, BobAuthormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varley, LynnIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janson, KlausInkersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, AlanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Dedicated to Will Jungkuntz 1955 - 1985
First words
I've got the home stretch all to myself when the readings stop making sense.
Quotations
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...
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"Together with inker Klaus Janson and colorist Lynn Varley, writer/artist Frank Miller completely reinvents the legend of Batman in his saga of a near-future Gotham City gone to rot, ten years after the Dark Knight's retirement. This masterpiece of modern comics storytelling, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, brings to vivid life a dark world and an even darker man. The Dark Knight returns in a blaze of fury, taking on a whole new generation of criminals and matching their level of violence. He is soon joined by a new Robin--a girl named Carrie Kelley, who proves to be just as invaluable as her predecessors. But can Batman and Robin deal with the threat posed by their deadliest enemies, after years of incarceration have made them into perfect psychopaths? And more important, can anyone survive the coming fallout from an undeclared war between the superpowers -- or the clash of what were once the world's greatest heroes? Celebrate thirty years of one of the most influential stories ever told in the comics medium with the undisputed classic BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, now with a new cover and introduction"--

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