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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Paperback – May 1, 1997
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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
"...probably the finest piece of comic art ever published in a popular edition..."—Stephen King
"It's film noir in cartoon pane ls."—VANITY FAIR
"There's never been storytelling quite like this."—THE WASHINGTON POST
"Changed the course of comics."—ROLLING STONE
"Revisionist pop epic."—SPIN
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It's difficult to describe just how influential this work was speaking as one who actually read it not that long after its original release. Just like Watchmen and Sandman that were released at about the same time these were disruptors of comics and the genre has never been the same since. Reading this now, it is easy to dismiss this as ironically comics today are so much like this having been so heavily influenced by these 3 works that I see some reviewers complaining about the artwork and even the story comparing this with newer Snyder and Loeb stories. That's like comparing Dr J with Michael Jordan and saying Michael is better when one disrupted the game so much, reinventing what can be done athletically on the court and clearly influencing the latter.
The art by Miller was controversially different from what was the norm at the time and judging from some of the reviews here still is as it challenged the predominantly Jack Kirby style that was prevalent with something a lot more impressionist allowing the reader to focus more on the story than being distracted by the art. The art style also emphasises the dystopian nature of the imperfect future described by Miller. For the newbie reading this, bearing the above in mind and remembering the context of the times this was written i.e. Reaganomics of the 80s will help enhance the understanding and the enjoyment of the reading experience.
In the end the story is one of hope and describes how one doesn't need to feel powerless about one's situation when taking personal and collective responsibility as an individual and as a society can make a difference even when rulers that are elected fail us by pursuing their own personal agendas. We gave them the power, we can take it back. Perhaps this story is still very relevant today?
Great influential story in a very good hardcover release makes this an easy review.
Very, very highly recommended!
As Batman sees the rise in crime emerge in Gotham, Bruce starts to believe that bringing the cape out of storage can give the city, but mostly him a new hope. The illustrations in this book have this rough and gritty look and texture to them that perfectly match the story.
Batman ends up with a new and young robin and fighting enemies that are in their prime while he is past his own. This makes for a riveting story that will leave you at the edge of your seat with a beautiful written story and great illustrations that are a must read for any Batman fan out there. After all this story is considered a classic in the Batman universe for a reason....... why wouldn't you want to pick this up?