It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired, and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now, when his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, the Joker and Two-Face, for the final time, Batman finds himself in mortal combat with his former ally, Superman, in a battle that only one of them will survive.
I love Batman. I have always loved Batman ever since the days that I sat in front of the TV and watched the 90’s cartoon. I’ve always been attracted to dark, mysterious, and conflicted characters. They’re more interesting, and Batman has these characteristics in droves.
This graphic novel does a great job of encompassing all of these traits, resulting in a work that is both fascinating and terrifying. Frank Miller has once again proven to us that he is not only an amazing storyteller, but a true Batman fan. Throughout the book, figures from Batman’s past find their way into the story including Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Superman, and Joker. This so happens to be one of my most favorite combos of characters as this also occurs in Batman: Hush, which I also love. Also, there is a female Robin which makes me smile big feminist smiles since she’s smart, strong (both emotionally and physically) and the Robin costume is the same so there are no obnoxious cleavage close-ups! (Thank you, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley.)
As for the story, Miller does an amazing job of not only showing us the physical obstacles that Batman must overcome in his old age, but also the psychological ones as he feels compelled to once again take up the mask and fight the criminal element that is running rampant throughout Gotham. After the Joker manages to escape from Arkham, Batman is faced with his biggest challenge yet when he feels the pressures of holding to his one rule (never kill) while Joker murders hundreds of innocent people all in an effort to finally break Batman’s tenuous hold on sanity.
Completely immersing and at times heartbreaking, The Dark Knight Returns is one of the best Batman graphic novels out there. And I would put it as one of the best graphic novels overall. It is artistic on many levels, thought provoking, and sometimes gut wrenching (in a good way). For these reasons, The Dark Knight Returns has earned the elusive 10/10.