With the recent release of the movie The Dark Knight, it seems appropriate to take a look at one of the books that served as an influence. Yes, its time for Scathing Book Reviews of The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller. If you were around in the 1980s and reading comics – uh, I mean graphic novels – you couldn’t escape the hype. The Dark Knight Returns was one of those books that made mainstream media mention in Time Magazine in other periodicals, because it made a big splash by “making Batman dark.”
Well I read it. And I have to say that even then, I couldn’t understand all the praise. Batman as a dark, grief stricken, unhinged creature of the night? Heck, that take on him goes back to the 1960s, with the writer/artist team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. My first introduction to the character in any depth was in “The Untold Legend of the Batman” in 1981, which made the character’s craziness central to the storyline. Guess who was trying to kill Batman in that one – HINT, his initials are BW and he lives in Wayne Manor.
Anyway, while Frank Miller’s books are usually pretty edgy, he seems like an awfully nice guy in interviews. So I’ll have to say – like the author, and appreciate the book, but think its been overpraised. These Scathing Book Reviews of the Dark Knight Returns wish he would just leave Gotham for good:
The art is terrible! rather then giving it a dark feeling, it looks like something from a childrens book that might be called “The Rainy Day” or “the Wet Dog” it uses water colors and weird-shaped heads.
I love the Bat, and I have tremendous respect for Frank Miller. I was crushed to find this book such a piece of mindless drivel, and frankly, offended. I have lost every bit of respect I ever had for Miller.
This is full of tired cliches of ‘the gritty and dark hero’. I nearly puked reading this book. One of the most overrated comic books ever written by man or beast. Plot? SUCKS. Characters? SUCKS. Writing? SUCKS. Art? SUCKS.
…and from the inevitable ALL CAPS Department, with a great point about the virtue of having Robin along:
WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING A 12-YEAR-OLD (OF EITHER GENDER) COMING ALONG WITH YOU, WEARING BLINDINGLY BRIGHT CLOTHING AND LEGGERY. FRANK MILLER SAYS IT’S TO MAKE BATMAN LOOK BIGGER, BUT I KNOW THE REAL REASON; TO DRAW GUNFIRE AWAY FROM BATMAN.