|The Dark Knight Returns|
|Published:||February – June 1986|
|Creators:|| Frank Miller|
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, (commonly abbreviated to DKR), was a four-issue mini-series written by acclaimed author Frank Miller.
The Dark Knight Returns is set in a dystopian near-future version of Gotham City. The year is never specified, though it has been a full decade since the last reported sighting of Batman. Society has lost faith in the functioning of justice, and the current American President, named only Dickard, and whose appearance seems to be a reference to Ronald Reagan, constantly tries to keep the social order with optimistic discourses, while the Cold War is still ongoing. Virtually all superheroes, with the exception of Superman, have been forced by governmental authorities into retirement or otherwise driven away by a distrusting populace. Bruce Wayne has voluntarily retired from crime fighting following the death (under unspecified circumstances) of Jason Todd, the second Robin. In the absence of superheroes, criminals run amok, and a gang called the Mutants terrorize Gotham City.
The return of an old enemy prompts a now 55-year-old Wayne to don the Batman costume once again. Despite Wayne's funding his rehabilitation, including plastic surgery to restore his half-disfigured face, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent has seemingly returned to crime. Batman apprehends Dent, but the populace debates whether Batman's brand of vigilantism has any place in society. The media plays a large role in DKR, with the narrative broken up by news reports and "talking head" editorials debating events in the story as they unfold.
After Batman saves her from a Mutant attack, 13-year-old Carrie Kelly buys herself a knock-off Robin costume, and searches for Batman to aid him. She finds Batman at the city dump, where he is fighting the Mutants. The Mutants' leader defeats Batman in combat, but Kelly distracts him and pulls Batman into the tank-like Batmobile . Kelly attends to Batman’s wounds as the vehicle drives toward the Batcave . Once home, Batman takes Carrie on as the new Robin despite his butler Alfred's objections. With the help of retiring Commissioner James Gordon, the Mutants' leader is allowed to escape from jail, and Batman beats him in a mud fight in front of the assembled gang, which then disbands as a result of his humiliation. Some former Mutants create a new gang, the "Sons of the Batman," using extremely violent methods (up to and including murder) to "purge" Gotham of its criminal element in what they see as emulation of Batman's actions.
Meanwhile, the return of Batman has caused one of his oldest and deadliest foes, The Joker, to awaken from a years-long catatonic state at Arkham Asylum . The Joker convinces his psychiatrist, Dr. Bartholomew Wolper, that he is sane and regrets his misdeeds. Seeking to discredit Batman, whom he has crusaded against in the media, Wolper appears with the Joker on a late-night show. While the police, now led by the anti-vigilante Commissioner Ellen Yindel, attack Batman, the Joker murders everyone in the television studio (including Wolper) and escapes. Batman and Robin track the Joker to a county fair, where Batman defeats Joker in a violent showdown. Batman stops short of killing the Joker; however, the Joker finishes the job himself, twisting his own broken neck, with the intent that the police will charge Batman with murder. Batman escapes, but not before another confrontation with the Gotham police, and a citywide manhunt is now on for the Caped Crusader.
After Superman diverts a Russian nuclear warhead which then detonates in a desert, millions of tons of dust and debris fill the atmosphere, and Gotham descends into chaos during the resulting blackout. Batman and Robin train former Mutants and the brutal Sons of the Batman in non-lethal fighting to stop looting and ensure the flow of needed supplies. In the midst of nuclear winter conditions, Gotham becomes the safest city in America; the U.S. government, seeing this as a credibility-undermining embarrassment, orders Superman to take Batman down. Having been warned of the government's plans by Oliver Queen, the former Green Arrow, Batman confronts Superman. Symbolically, their duel takes place in Crime Alley, where Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered decades earlier. Batman defeats Superman in a well planned fight, but dies from a heart attack immediately afterward. After his funeral, it is revealed that his death was staged as an elaborate ruse; Clark Kent attends the funeral and gives Robin a knowing wink after hearing Bruce's heartbeat as he leaves the grave site, suggesting his silent approval of what will happen next. Alfred destroys the Batcave and Wayne Manor and suffers a fatal stroke. Some time afterward, Batman leads Robin, Green Arrow, and the rest of his followers into the caverns beyond the Batcave and prepares to continue his fight. His plan, which will take years of training and studying, is to build an army, and to bring sense to a world plagued by something "worse than thieves and murderers". He decides that this will be a good life — good enough.
Behind the scenesEdit
- A homage to The Dark Knight Returns #1 appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Rise of the Blue Beetle!", appearing on the bedroom wall of Jamie Reyes/Blue Beetle.
- It adapted into a segment of the episode "Legends of the Dark Knight" of Batman: The Animated Series.
- The story was made into a two-part animated feature, see: Part 1 and Part 2.