My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was struggling to get through Connie Willis’ Dooms Day Book so I decided to set it down and take a quick break. What I decided to read, pretty much on a whim, was Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns. This was right before The Dark Knight Rises, the final movie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, came to theaters, which probably led to my choice.
I had never read a Batman graphic novel. In fact, I really just haven’t read that many graphic novels period. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, just that The Dark Knight Returns was considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time.
To put it simply, I liked it. In fact, I really liked it. Batman has retired. It’s been eight years (I think) since Bruce Wayne put on the suit–he’s in his 50’s now–and in the meantime, Gotham has gone to hell. Obviously, things escalate to the point that Batman comes out of retirement to set things right.
And he does it with brute force. Miller’s Batman is huge, basically a giant, and insanely menacing. He doesn’t pull any punches, but he has gotten older and he’s not as quick or as strong as he once was. The fight is an intense struggle and he is forced to rely on Robin for support. What’s interesting is that Robin is a teenage girl, which was a surprisingly pleasant spin on the character.
Overall, the story was great and the action was brilliant. I really enjoyed this darker depiction of Batman–it just seems more fitting than some of the goofier takes on the character like the 60’s tv show. It was also interesting to see where Nolan got many of his ideas and inspirations for the movies.
I would recommend The Dark Knight Returns to anyone who has any appreciation for Batman whatsoever, but especially if you like the recent movies. Really great stuff.