End of Summer
 
The Dark Knight Redux
Review and Illustration by Jon Karl Franklin Haynes

In 1986, DC published a four issue series that we now know and love as BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. The title itself said more than it knew, for it marked the return of the caped crusader as a force to be feared in the comics industry.

By 1986, sales were lagging on the Batman titles, and Frank Miller was assigned to kick some steam into the character. He brought Batman back to his roots, while at the same time showing us a grim future of Gotham City and the DCU itself.
Bruce Wayne is an aging bachelor, having retired the Batman ten years earlier. None of the other DC heroes operate in public, many of them having gone to the places that spawned them. The exeption to this is Superman, who secretly works for the President himself (who happens to be a hilariously written version of Ronald Reagan).

After ten years of watching his beloved Gotham turn into a pit of churning chaos, Bruce decides it is time to bring the Dark Knight out of retirement. He comes back with a vengeance, being extraordinairily brash in his exploits. He's tired of playing around.

One of the more interesting parts of the story is the first issue, which deals with Harvey Dent. His face cured by the wonders of modern plastic surgery, Dent is once again the handsome "Apollo" that he was in his youth. However, the man behind the face is twisted by insanity and insecurity, and fails to see that he is once again normal. In the climax of the first issue, we see his face as he really sees it. In his mind, both sides of his face are now hideously scarred. The first issue also includes some good fight scenes of Batman, who must walk a tightrope across the top of Gotham while being shot at repeatedly. Its not easy being Batman.

The second issue of the series introduces a new Robin, Carrie Kelley. The daughter of negligent parents, Kelley is enthralled by the return of the Batman, whom she had considered a myth. She follows him and helps him escape the clutches of the depraved mutant leader, who was mopping the floor with our hero. Batman quickly gets his revenge against the pumped up gangleader, however, and utters one of the coolest lines in comic book history while doing it. "This isn't a mudhole, boy. Its an operating table, and I'm the surgeon."

The third part of the series is one of the best of the four. Batman must take down the Joker, who has recently escaped catatonia at Arkham and murdered an entire audience at a late night talk show (He even kills Dr. Ruth and David Letterman!!!). A really good battle issue, with Batman and his arch enemy slugging it out. If by chance you are one of the very few fans who missed the series, I'll tell you this. Only one of the combatants walks away from the fight.

The fourth issue of the miniseries is in my opinion the best. The final showdown between Superman and Batman. You can't get any better than that. You even get to see Superman with a busted lip and nose! Its the issue that proves just how resourceful Batman can be, and even gives a glimpse at a Superman that just might be pretty cool. A wink at the end of the story proves that.

In all, the four issues are great! They not only tell about Bruce Wayne, but reveal alot about Commissioner Gordon, who is nearing retirement and obviously knows Bruce Wayne has a pointy eared alter ego. The supporting characters and innocent bystanders are informative, while not seeming to talk like regular comic book people. This story is a masterpiece, and there is no way one person can point out all the little things that make it one. It would take a book to do that.
A final thought. If you have been on another planet for the past 12 years, go and buy this story. It is in trade paperback, and the original issues aren't that expensive either.

Scanned artwork is ™ DC Comics
 
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