Friday, July 29, 2011
Flashback Friday--Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
I may not be too big on Frank Miller's new stuff, but when it comes to his past work, he was an utter God. This is one of the top Batman stories you'll ever read. Let's discuss it in-depth. I spoil a ton, but this thing has been out forever, so the fact I hadn't read it was kind of embarrassing--you ought to know everything too or be cool with spoilers.
The trade I read this in collects the four "books" that originally held this tale. It is the story of a fifty-five year-old Bruce Wayne who quit being Batman almost 10 years ago and Gotham has pretty much gone to Hell in the meantime. Throughout the four books Wayne puts the cowl and cape back on, confronts Harvey Dent (Two-Face), a new gang known as the mutants, has his final showdown with the Joker, and gets in a knock-down brawl with Superman to close out the book. We also get a lot of awesome psychological examination of the character of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Batman is a sort of thing that controls him and sucks him in, and in the end he can't fight it and starts being Batman again, with it all going back to that night in Crime Alley where his parents were murdered. It all started there, and it all ends there. Bruce Wayne is an old man, but Batman isn't defined by age, he is an unstoppable force.
This leads to the utterly off-the-wall book four where a nuclear bomb specially designed to knock out electronics plunges the world back into the dark ages and everything just goes mad--or would, if it weren't for Batman. Then we get the epic confrontation between Bruce and Kent, Batman and Superman, however you want to put it. It's sad that it is so short, but boy is it great. Yeah, plenty of comics have had these two fighting, but this was one of the first times it felt so visceral, so real. In the end, Bruce fakes his death, and goes underground to begin training a new generation of crime-fighters, a fitting end to the book that isn't too happy or a complete downer.
5 out of 5 stars.