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Monday, November 1, 2010

Comic Book Review: The Dark Knight Returns

The Dark Knight Returns
Writer: Frank Miller
Penciller: Frank Miller
No of Issues: 4
Published by DC Comics

DKR is set in the future DC universe (year was never specified), where costumed superheroes and vigilantes (except for Superman) were either forced to retire or driven away by leery citizens. It has been 10 years since the last sighting of Batman due to the death of Jason Todd (the second Robin), and a new group called "Mutants" runs rampant and is instigating terror Gotham City. To add  to the injury, an old nemesis again comes back and a middle-aged Bruce Wayne is forced to don the costume once more.

Its a story of an old Batman trying to make himself relevant in a dystopian world, and because of his vigilantism, he finds himself at odds with the United States government who stops at nothing to apprehend him. Superman is also here, but more of just a supporting character, and merely acts as a puppet for the US Government, as he believes that it is the only way for him to do some good.

 (Batman was inspired from the likes of Zorro, 
and he certainly looks like him. Just change the cowl to the Zorro mask.)

Now for the following paragraphs... I'm veering away from the consensus. And I think I'm gonna get murdered for it, but what the hell...

The Dark Knight Returns (written by Frank Miller - yeah, the same guy who created 300) was not as good as it was advertised. Not as great as it was described by critics. It didn't deserve to be in that no.2  spot as one of the greatest Batman books of all time and I'm just clueless as to why people are raved about it for so long.

Let's face it: every great comic book is packed with great art. And this is where this graphic novel truly fails miserably.

The storyline is hard to follow and it gets even worse because of too much text crammed in the pages.  I had a hard time reading the book really, and there were times where I had to stop reading because I got tired of reading cluttered texts and pictures. Images we're too crammed in, making it look awfully unorganized and rubbish. The art wasn't too pleasing either. Its horrible - Bats and Supes being too muscular and bulky in this book was probably the worst rendition I've ever seen. It was putrid. Graphic novels should be easy to the eye, not otherwise.

 (the first time i saw this on Google Images, 
i thought it was a fan artwork.)

But I have to give credit where credit is due here: Frank Miller made an outstanding Batman story. One that has never been written before and one that truly epitomizes the true essence of the "dark and gritty" essence of the Caped Crusader and Gotham City.

Here is Gotham's protector, trying to defy Father Time while trying to save his beloved city from all the evil that he swore to eradicate since childhood, taking him to the extreme limits of his physical and mental capabilities. Even coming face to face with the most  sinister of villains of years past, plus standing toe to toe against the Big Blue Boy Scout in one climactic a fist fight just to get his job done.

His characterization is very humanized, and I like how he made Superman so humanly real rather than the almost- Godlike character we used to see. And Batman is as brooding, twisted minded and bad-ass as ever even at a very old age. And with that I give both the story and the character-build up 4 stars.

All in all, I was disappointed with the book mainly because of the art. It wasn't  that bad though because Miller delivered a classic Batman story that would eventually redefine both the Dark Knight and "graphic novels" for good. But then again, this could have been better had Miller got a bona-fide artist to do that other side of the equation. That would have made it the greatest Batman graphic novel ever in my book.

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