Batman Dark Knight Returns Issue 2, Kayfabe Commentary

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[Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.]


Okay, if not as bad as Liefeld feet, the lines are at least as bad as John Romita Jr. lines some of the time…


That art still reeks, and the story was rather depressing. No idea why it’s endured to make Batman, in most current titles, a generally horrid excuse for a “hero” these days. It makes me sad that there’s so little fun to the character anymore.

I was a college freshman when it first came out, and it seemed refreshing. Something new, something that shook things up. Bruce Wayne got old, got bitter, and kind of suicidal in a world where Ronny Raygun was president—what is it with Republicans worshipping crazy and incompetent presidents, anyways? But I digress. It came out at a time when superhero comics were boring and bland, were all of the good stuff was happening in the smaller houses like Dark Horse, Kitchen Sink and First Comics, when Dave Sim hadn’t shown what a crazy misogynist and misanthrope he really was. When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Tick were not yet made into television shows.

My take is that everyone learned the wrong lessons from Frank Miller’s Batman works: it wasn’t the dark tone that made it so special, it was the feeling that we were finally seeing how heroes and villains grow old. That time takes its toll. That there was a realistic chance that Bruce Wayne could actually die.

I personally would like to see a Batman series set back in the 1960’s again, where Bruce Wayne is not solely driven by a desire to beat the crap out of villains, but got into the costume as a way to draw attention, and to test out new toys Wayne Enterprises were developing. A little more light-hearted, a bit of a nod to Adam West, with moments of “holy crap, these punches really hurt!” and maybe that costumed villains came first as a trend, Bruce merely turning it back on them.


Sounds like we’re about exactly the same age, and I think my take on it largely mirrors yours, except I wouldn’t say refreshing, but definitely different. I found it rather sad that this great hero never found a feeling of accomplishment, much less happiness, in his life’s work. I guess I didn’t find mainstream comics of the time to be stale because, at the time, I had only been a regular comics reader for 2-3 years at that point, though sporadically for many years. I tried, but never got into the more “literary” or “artistic” comics of the independents scene. I liked the basic formula of mainstream superhero comics (“feel good” stories about the heroes saving the day), and still miss the simple youthful feelings of heroic adventure.

I very strongly agree with your second paragraph, and find the third an interesting concept. It seems that everybody took Miller’s work and said “look, he turns out bitter and half-crazy, so let’s only focus on what turned him that way.” I still love the Batman character, but I’m really tired of the glorification of psychotic characters be they anti-heroes or villains. There’s little I would love more, comics-wise, than a permanent death for the Joker.

I must have no taste but I don’t mind Miller’s earlier line work. It seemed nice to me since it wasn’t as heavily drawn as some 90s comics were. Lots of voids and flatter colors which make it seem kinda real in a twisted way. I don’t think the story aged well though. Way too much of the Ronny Raygun dork President in the book for my tastes but Miller isn’t one known for subtly.

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