Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns

Am I the only person who hasn't yet seen Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker? Yes? Ah well.

It was a hoot reading once again Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Going in, I wasn't sure I'd read it before, but some of the panels and pages jumped out to remind me that I'd been there already, likely in 1986 or 1987 at boarding school. (Like a foreign country, that time seems now, both the happy moments and all the rest of them, but that's another story.)

It's no Watchmen, but The Dark Knight is playing a very different game. Alan Moore's intent in Watchmen was to leave his heroes unusable in standard episodic form, making their lives so harrowing and their actions so conclusive that their backstories would overwhelm any future attempts to tell new stories about them. Miller was bringing Batman back to life, differently, and in a different world, so the great triumph of this book is that Miller can destroy almost every vestige of the old Batman, and yet leave him more exciting than he ever was before.

I'd rather read Watchmen, and I'm comfortable arguing that Watchmen is the richer and more accomplished novel, but without question, The Dark Knight Returns is a better comic book.

Oh, and Russell Books on May 21, a steal for $7.99.


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