Batman: The Dark Knight Returns


Author: Miller, Frank

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 1986 (single magazine form)

Number of Pages: 199 pp (hard cover edition)

Geographical Setting: Gotham City, United States

Time Period: post-1980’s

Plot Summary: Ten years have passed since Bruce Wayne has donned the cowl and cape of Batman, Gotham City’s Dark Knight. Retirement seemed the only option for Batman after Jason Todd, the second Robin, was murdered at the hands of his arch-nemesis, the Joker. And as Commissioner Gordon finds himself on the eve of his own retirement, one would think that the dusk of his career should be a smooth road with Catwoman retired and leading a second career as an escort service madam; the Joker comatose, wordless, and without action at Arkham Asylum for a decade; and former District Attorney, Harvey Dent cured of his dual personality, the criminal mastermind Two-Face with the aid of his sponsor and friend, Bruce Wayne. The city is currently amidst in crime; acts of murder and mayhem have run amok. Gotham is now in the grips of a merciless street gang who call themselves, the Mutants. Wayne sees no other option than grabbing his utility belt and reliving the part of his life that always brought him satisfaction and, admittedly, joy; never minding the fact that he’s 60 years old now. And as Batman battles the Mutants, the nation unravels. A nuclear war with Russia looms in the certain future, and a caricature of President Reagan plays puppet master to the nation’s newest and most-feared weapon, Superman himself. As the news of freshly unretired Batman hits the evening news, the Batman-longing Joker wakes from his comatose state, Dent returns to his evil Two Face ways, a government plot to arm the Mutants is revealed, and Superman knows that a reluctant battle against his friend is imminent. And if that isn’t enough, Batman has to train a new Robin, a teenage girl named Carrie Kelly. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a trailblazing graphic novel that thrusts the comic book universe into a future that exists with real-life issues and adult content. There is no longer a defined line between good and evil.

Subject Headings: Graphic Novel; Comics; Superhero; Secret Identity; Detective; Vigilante; Legend; Supervillains; Nemeses; Good and Evil; Heroine; Urban Warfare; Crime; Nuclear War; Nuclear Fallout; Dystopia; Gang Violence; Redemption; Media Frenzy; Biological Weapons

Appeal: noir, violent, gritty, revenge, gloomy, bloody, tense, murder, multiple points-of-view, political, apocalyptic, stark, foreboding, strong central character, strong secondary characters, vivid, dark, angry, multiple plot lines, dismal

Similar Authors & Works: Watchmen by Alan Moore and illustrator David Gibbons, along with Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, are considered to be the quintessential graphic novels of the modern era. It is a story about a ragtag crew of superheroes that set to untangle a plot to discredit and kill them one-by-one while past events come to the forefront. Marvel Comics’ Civil War by Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven is a tale of the United States introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act which requires any person that possesses with superhuman abilities to register with the government as a “weapon of mass destruction.” They would then have to reveal their secret identity and proceed to be trained by the government. This splits the Marvel Universe’s heroes into two factions that battle to decide if this is right or if this is slavery. Wolverine: Origin by Paul Jenkins, Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas, and illustrator, the legendary Andy Kubert, bring light to the true beginnings of another of the comic world’s favorite characters. Here, the reader is shown the upbringing of Logan and how he became the Marvel Universe’s most popular brooding and gritty warrior.

Relevant Non-Fiction Authors & Works: The Gunfighter: Man or Myth? by Joseph G. Rosa is an account of the history, the legend, and the creation of the Western gunslingers. It looks at profiles of some of the most famous and infamous characters of that era: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, and Billy the Kid. Global Vigilantes by David Pratten is a book that discusses the vigilante movements and their ideologies that are prevalent throughout modern parts of the world. It profiles those individuals and groups that maintain awareness events of local crime to political espionage. The New Vigilantes: De-programmers, Anti-cultists, and New Religions by Anson Schupe and David Bromley is a book that deals more with the rising issues and movements that infiltrate the everyday fabric of modern society.



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