Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson


This masterpiece of modern comics storytelling brings to vivid life a dark world and an even darker man. 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.
Crime runs rampant in the streets, and the man who was Batman is still tortured by the memories of his parents’ murders. As civil society crumbles around him, Bruce Wayne’s long-suppressed vigilante side finally breaks free of its self-imposed shackles.
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 this generation’s 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 of an undeclared war between the superpowers — or a clash of what were once the world’s greatest superheroes?
Over fifteen years after its debut, Batman: The Dark Knight Returnsremains an undisputed classic and one of the most influential stories ever told in the comics medium.
And so my exploration of the worlds of Comics and Graphic Novels begins and it starts with a bang.  I really wanted to start with a big one and also a genre or character I hadn’t really investigated much before.  So I picked Batman as I’ve always sort of liked his character and love the movies (not just the recent ones, most are pretty good if not great) and I asked someone who really knew their stuff and they said this was the one to start with.  Their actual words had swears in it but the gist was “read this, read this read this”.  So I read it.
A wonderfully dark tale of Batman some years after he’s fought foes and done battle with the evil lurking in the city of Gotham and now is an old man who still can’t stand the what he has become in his old age; lonely and dark.  He see’s the darkness that is taking hold of the city and the darkness within him slowly seeps out again and taking hold.  The darkness that is The Batman.  As The Batman comes back into play to try and clean up the city his old foes come back from retirement too and it’s the final show downs between the two.
I’m so pleased this was the first real step into Batman I took because it was the perfect way to get me hooked and hooked fast.  It’s viciously dark and harsh in it’s tone and I just loved the plot.  Seeing Batman who was beyond his prime but still with the desire and impulse to fight even if it takes him to the brink of death.  Plus the character of Carrie was a lovely touch to bring to the lightness to the tale and youth.  Miller creates a darker world and a darker Batman with a broken Bruce Wayne on the flip side.

The art work was just as dark as the story and I loved how the colouring stuck to the original ideas of Batman in blue tones and a bold Robin and Joker.  Plus the panels were well used for the story when it intercuts with the storylines of Batman and his foes with the media and news feeds.  It reflects the voice of the reader as they see the rise and fall of the characters and also makes a point about the mass media and how much it is involved in our lives (and forming our opinions).

A classic and held up as a masterpiece of modern comic book history and in my opinion and great book to have in any collection.
Published by Titan Books and is available here and book and comic shops now


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