29 July 2009

Book Review: The Dark Knight Returns

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Author: Frank Miller
Illustrators: Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
Published: 1997 Pages: 224
Genre: Graphic Novel
Rating: 4/5

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis

Batman comes out of retirement, older, weaker, and more tortured, but still capable of taking on Gotham City's criminals. Over the course of the four books in the novel, Batman meets up with Harvey Two-Face, the Joker, a new Robing, and *drumroll please* Superman. And through it all the public is still engaged in a neverending battle discussing whether Batman is a hero or a villain. I'm not sure even Batman himself knows the answer to that question.

My Thoughts

I loved it. I enjoyed this new twist on the Batman character. Always a bit darker than his "superhero" counterparts, Batman's dark side and his mental anguish are given free reign in Miller's adaptation of the Batman icon. The inclusion of Superman into the mix was a nice foil, helping the reader to see Batman as the black sheep among his kind, but one who is doing what's necessary to help society. That has always been a theme within the series, then and now, in novels and film: Batman is whatever Gotham City needs him to be. As always, James Gordon is my favorite character. He had a decent sized role in this story with his retirement and thoughts on his replacement as well as a short and nice action sequence.

On the down side, there were a few times where the repetition got to me. All four stories had numerous lines on how Batman was getting old and tired, and all four included none-too-small segments showing the media debate over the necessity, sanity, and morality of Batman. Now and then I was thinking "yeah, I get it already". But overall, those two annoyances did function as literary devices within the text, foreshadowing events mainly. Despite the downside, this was an excellent novel and I highly recommend reading it.

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