The Dark Knight Returns: 20th Anniversary


Twenty years ago one of the greatest examples of graphic literature was created. FRANK MILLER’s Batman epic ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ is a well-crafted masterpiece of psychoanalytical storytelling on par with DOSTOEVSKY or POE. Actually, EDGAR ALLEN would be extremely proud of the story that describes a retired crimefighter’s last attempt to save Gotham City.

What makes the story so good is that we get to see the pathology of the caped crusader and realize his connection to the people that he battles with. Forced out of retirement at 50 years of age we get to experience his self doubts and his past regrets. He cannot exist without the demon inside of himself. Batman is a tormented and gritty sociopath just like his arch enemies, Two-Face and the Joker.

FRANK MILLER illustrates the graphic novel in the same noir prose that he employed for the ‘Sin City’ series. Gotham City is bathed in shadows and darkness twenty four hours a day. There are no heroes left in this city and even the caped crusader is viewed as a criminal because he operates far outside the parameters of the law.

The socio-economic-political statements that FRANK MILLER describes in the fictitious Gotham City resonate loudly today in real life because we are still looking for heroes to show to us what our moral responsibilities to each other should be. There won’t be any Batman or Superman to rescue us from ourselves. We are going to have to battle our demons alone.

10 Responses to “The Dark Knight Returns: 20th Anniversary”

  1. rafi says:

    Classic material. One of the other “greatest example of graphic literature” made its debut in 1986 too – Allan Moore’s Watchmen.

    Both are electric stories, brilliantly delivered, and they share common themes that you mention here.

  2. Amadeo says:

    Alot of people didn’t like what Miller did to Batman…when it seems like the most logical conclusion.

  3. Fly Rizzle says:

    I personally like Frank Millers work with WeaponX the best

  4. nOva says:

    Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!

  5. reninatronix says:

    Please indulge my digression.

    That Batman last summer was the truth.

    There were ninjas, family, revenge, gentrification, corrupt politicians.

    Who could ask for more?

    Especially the narritive line about the connection between anger, fear, and revenge.

    That ish gave me courage I needed to get my divorce!:~

  6. Combat Jack says:

    That shit right there is my ALL time favorite jernt. I remember back before Dark Knight, my cousin was already a huge Batman fan (Jim Apparo, Neal Adams) and since I was strictly set claiming Marvel Comics, and based on what Miller was doing with DAREDEVIL, we used to argue about who would kick whose ass (me being on Daredevil’s side). After Dark Knight dropped, I became a Batman dickrider (nullus) to this day. Today, I tell my kids and their friends that in a fight, Batman would probably duff the Incredible Hulk out. Thanks for this post dukes, you’re covering all angles (nullus).

  7. damn Robin, why do ya have to jump in anus-first?

  8. the_dallas says:

    I am stoked that y’all liked this post since I have a bunch of other related joints stashed in the queue.

    So many Batman purists were against this story because Batman was such a bad dude. Bad meaning bad. Batman was breaking arms and legs on g.p. Plus Batman was a curmudgeon of an old man. Can you imagine a grumpy old man just kicking azz for no money down?

    The other issue that Batman purists had was with Robin being a little girl. Robin was always a teh ghey name for a boy crimefighter. FRANK MILLER got it right on every count when he brought all of Batman’s old friends and nemeses into the story. Seeing Batman kick Superman’s azz was classic.

    FRANK MILLER gets all kinds of props for Sin City and Ronin and a host of other titles but real recognize real when you speak on the Elektra saga from Daredevil culminating in issue #181.

    NEAL ADAMS is the father of some of the best emotionally evocative illustration in comic art. My all time favorite is JOHN BYRNE. The Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix saga was so fucking sad that it literally ended my childhood. I just loved me some Marvel Girl.

    no brokeback to all this nerd talk of course

  9. I have been off the Internet for a while but Im glad I can come back to shit like this.

    This, The Watchmen and Batman: Year One are my Holy Trinity.

    Batman is my hero and Im glad nerds of the interwebs still appreciate this GN.

    An old Batman would have to be a tragic angry character.
    This book was perfect in its characterization.

    It opened the gates for the flood of ultra violent “commentary” comics of the 90s for better or worse but it remains the king.

    What about Dark Knight Strikes Again?

    What was the take on that?

    Inferior art but a good story.

  10. the_dallas says:

    The DKSA was another great piece of writing from MILLER, but the DKR series spoiled us as to how great a comic could actually be. The artwork needed to be a little more polished and cleaner just to match the storyline.

    Ha. Can you imagine being in an America run by a shallow, know nothing, corrupt president? That’ll never happen in my lifetime.

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