Reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part 6

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 7 | Part 8

Greetings again after much too long a while. Since the last installment in this series, the new pornographers at Vivid have announced, written, shot, and released Batman XXX: A Porn Parody, so it’s well past time to look at the fourth and final book of The Dark Knight Returns, “The Dark Knight Falls”!

Unlike Books Two and Three, which each start a little while after their respective preceding chapters, Book Four picks up right where Book Three left off. The Joker has just died, his final act having been to frame Batman for his own death. Police Commissioner Yindel cordons her forces outside the Tunnel of Love, readying an assault. Meanwhile, Superman continues fighting in the “police action” in Corto Maltese…

Book Four, page 177 (detail).

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Reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part 3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Part one of this series surveyed Miller’s comics work prior to his landmark 1986 miniseries Batman: The Dark Knight Returns; part two summarized the innovations in printing technology that Miller and his colorist Lynn Varley helped introduce into comics in the mid-1980s. Now, in this and the following three or four posts, I’ll take a closer look at the series’ four individual chapters, starting with Book One, “The Dark Knight Returns.”

For the eternal children of my generation (I was born in 1803), the most enduring image of Batman arguably hails from Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation. (No doubt the children of today will forever regard Batman as looking like Christian Bale.) Since Mr. Burton has a brand-new film out, I thought it only fitting to begin with this section of TDKR:

TDKR page 17 (detail).

Bruce Wayne proceeds to tumble down the rabbit bat hole. Let’s follow.

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Reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part 1

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

These days, Frank Miller is arguably best-known as a filmmaker. He co-directed Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of his long-running comic Sin City (1991–present), which he followed with his own peculiar 2008 adaptation of Will Eisner’s classic comic series The Spirit (1942–52). In between, he executive-produced Zack Snyder’s hugely successful adaptation of his 1998 graphic novel 300. Hollywood’s current infatuation with super-heroics has served him well.

Most of Miller’s work, however, has been in comics, a medium he has helped revolutionize over the past twenty years. Since comics sadly remain an understudied and under-analyzed literary medium, I thought I’d take advantage of John Madera’s generosity—and your patience—to sketch out some thoughts about the form and importance of Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

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