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THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS_things that are awesome

October 14, 2009

The other day I happened to glance across my bookshelf and my eyes settled upon one of my favorite and one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time: The Dark Knight Returns.  I decided to pick it up, thumb through some of the pages, maybe read a few of the panels.  The next thing I knew an hour had past and I had read just about the entire book.  It’s just that good.  Written by Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) the premise of  TDKR is simple: Batman has been retired for twenty years.  The world has gone to hell.  Batman decides to clean things up.  And by “clean things up” I mean beat everybody and everything into a bloody pulp.  The book is gory, action-packed, and a true snapshot of American culture in the mid-80s.

Gory, Violent, Awesomeness

Many of Miller’s typical themes can be found in the book including his trademark anti-hero: a hard-boiled detective, in the later years of his life, sets in motion a chain of events that lead to one final showdown (in this case, with Superman.) I can’t say enough about this book, despite Miller’s clichés, the writing is fantastic.  And the art, drawn by Miller himself, is gritty and unforgettably.  My favorite part of this book: the relationship between Superman and Batman.  They hate each other.  Batman is a liberal anarchist who is fed up with society.  Superman is an overgrown boy scout who can’t say no to authority.  As much as I love the Man of Steel (see posts below) I really think this is one of the characters best portrayals.

Superman Smack-Down

TDKR is often credited for re-inventing Batman as the dark, moody character we all know and love today.  But that’s not exactly the case.  By the ‘80s, the writers at DC Comics had already shed most of the ‘60s Adam West camp that had carried through the ‘70s.  TDKR was, on the other hand, a huge success and managed to do what few Batman writers had been able to pull off: reintroduce the character to mainstream audiences.  The success of this book pushed the movie into production.  Because of this book the filmmakers reconsidered the comedy-camp route (Bill Murray was once in the running for Bruce Wayne/Batman) which lead to the hiring of the up-and-coming Tim Burton, which led to Michael Keaton being cast, which led to one of the biggest comic-book movies of all time.

If you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing, and get to your local comic shop immediately…

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