I finished Batman: Dark Knight Returns earlier in the week and I’m currently reading it again. *Spoilers Ahead* As I mentioned previously Gotham is once again in rapid decline with a group called the mutants causing havoc. Various events conspire to force Bruce Wayne to bring Batman out of retirement.
He manages to overcome the mutants but his return is not well received. The majority see him as vigilante intent on destroying the city further. Matters are made worse that by defeating the mutants some of them become the Sons of Batman who try to emulate Batman’s cause but use excessive violence.
Along the way Two Face and The Joker resurface, both with equally evil intentions. Robin makes a return too, but not as you’d expect. Commissioner Gordon retires (hes now 70) and is replaced by Ellen Yindel who detests Batman and is out to arrest him. Superman also makes an appearance, bizarrely as a covert agent for the American government. Events conspire to give a stand off between Batman and Superman, the conclusion of which is very interesting!
One of the many things I liked were the references to Batman’s age. At 55 hes not quite as athletic as he once was and finds it hard going. There are also lots of popular references. David Letterman is in there as David Endochrine and I was amused by the appearance of the President. He isn’t named but its so obvious its Ronald Reagan (which makes total sense given its written in the mid 80s). I also love the heavy use of TV news interviews to help progress the story.
I did find some of the artwork a little scrappy, in particular the last part of book 3 but its probably intentional due to what it depicts. Overall though its very well executed. I much prefer this dark interpretation of Batman. Much like I prefer Tim Burton’s Batman films and the recent Batman Begins.
Reading up on the book opened up a minefield of information… such as this large WikiPedia entry. It was originally done as 4 books, but this edition links them together. Its joy to read and its certainly wetted my appetite for more. Apparently there is a sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. but it isn’t well regarded. However, I am interested to see how the story continues so no doubt will get it. I can see a rather large wish list of graphic novels appearing on Amazon!