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2. “The Dark Knight Returns” (Batman: The Dark Knight #1-4)
The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most influential Batman comics, well, ever, really. In his four-issue series set 10 years after Bruce Wayne retired as Batman, Frank Miller (with inker Klaus Janson and colorist Lynn Varley) basically established the way Batman would be presented in comics for the next…well…28 years and counting!
The comic is literally about the return of the Dark Knight, as Bruce Wayne realizes that his city needs Batman again, so he, well, returns.
Miller plays with the concept (not originated by Miller but certainly cemented by Miller) that perhaps Batman’s existence draws OUT the crazies in an action-reaction deal.
As soon as Batman returns, so, too, does Two-Face and the Joker.
The other major characters in the story (besides Alfred) are Carrie Kelly, the teenaged girl who becomes the new Robin…
and Superman, whose conflict with Batman makes up the finale to the series (Superman is depicted as a servant of the United States)…
Miller’s art is in strong form in the series, especially the action sequences, which are dramatic as all hell.
Batman has three (one is a two-parter) extremely memorable fights in this series.
The first is against the leader of the Mutants, the screwed up gang of thugs who are terrorizing Gotham (in his first night back, Batman saves Carrie Kelly from a pair of them, leading to her wanting to become Robin), where Batman tries to compete like he was still young…
The second is a chilling conflict with the Joker, who figures out the best way (in his mind) to “beat” Batman – it’s quite twisted.
The third is the aforementioned battle between Superman and Batman, where we see perhaps the debut of the whole “if Batman had enough prep time, he could beat anyone” mode of handling Batman.
So yeah, Dark Knight Returns – major comic book work.
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