Countdown to Batman v. Superman – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Comic Review)

Countdown to Batman v. Superman - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Comic Review)In the days leading up to Batman Vs. Superman, some of us here at whysoblu wanted to discuss our favorite Batman and Superman comics to recognize and appreciate the storied history of these characters. So without further ado…


It’s probably one of the best comic books ever written and quite possibly the perfect batman story.  Pretty much every other story that features the Batman doesn’t have a definitive ending.  They usually wrap up with him saving the day and continuing as the savior of Gotham.  With THIS story, without spoiling anything, it comes to a very satisfying conclusion that I challenge ANY bat-fan to turn their nose up at it!  The Dark Knight Returns, which was written by Frank Miller, came out before Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film so this was the first time anyone had ever seen a darker take on the character.  Before this most folks had an image of a smiling Batman in a blue and black outfit.  Frank Miller showed us just how damaged and deranged someone would become after witnessing their parents death and devoting their entire lives to righting the wrongs of the world around him.

Countdown to Batman v. Superman - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Comic Review)

The story goes like this: ever since the death of Jason Todd (Robin) Bruce has been in retirement.  Now in his late 50’s, he sits on the sidelines and watches as Gotham City slides into decay without the Batman.  The absence of the Bat has caused the Joker to loose all purpose in life and has fallen into a catatonic state.  He lives in a psych ward where a group of experts attempt to examine and “cure” him of his mania.  Bruce has kept his sense of psychotic vengeance in check by sedating himself through heavy drinking.  But everything changes when one night a couple of violent punks who belong to the now infamous gang called “The Mutants” attempts to rob him in an alley.  Even through the haze of liquor, this moment still triggers the memory of that fateful night that set him on his endless quest for vengeance.  Despite the fact that ol’Bruce is getting up there in years, it’s quite evident that he can still scare the crap out of those who seek to hurt the innocent.

Meanwhile, Superman has become a puppet/attack dog for the US Government.  Ronald Regan is hilariously portrayed in satirical fashion that alludes to his disconnect from the country he served.  At one point it was decided that the Justice League posed a threat to the world at large and the world leaders came together and demanded that they disband.  Out of fear of being ostracized from the human race Superman chose to fall into line while the rest of the team disagreed with his decision and were dealt with accordingly.  Considering that this came out in the 80’s it’s kinda surprising that Frank Miller went with a somewhat controversial choice as to who takes up the mantle of Robin in this story.  I realize I’m being rather vague about the details, but it’s best if you just experience this fantastic story for yourself!

Countdown to Batman v. Superman - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Comic Review)

This book has some of the BEST encounters and fights between batman and superman that I’ve EVER seen.  There’s also an appearance from Green Arrow who serves as an integral part to Batman’s plan against the Man of Steel.  I also highly recommend checking out the Blu-ray animated film as it has THE best Batman fight choreography scenes that I’ve ever seen.  Just raw and realistic stuff that the animated series from the 90’s could never really touch on.  However, the animated film opts to leave out Batman’s classic inner monologue.  In place of it they show his inner thoughts through excellent animated performances and voice acting.

Almost every iteration of Batman as we’ve known him since the late 80’s has either been derived or influenced by this book in some way, shape, or form. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises not only has a similar ending but it also used the concept of Bruce retiring as well as.  Let’s not forget the upcoming Batman v. Superman which draws HEAVILY from Frank Miller’s iconic contribution.  The size, shape and design of Ben Afleck’s Batman is almost IDENTICAL to Miller’s concept.  The Mech Suit that Bruce don’s in the trailer from BvS is also a shot for shot recreation.  Not to mention the whole idea of Batman fighting Superman in an epic battle!  Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these filmmakers taking their cues from this book.  In fact, if more people had stuck to this concept in the past I DOUBT that there ever would have been a Batman & Robin movie!  It would have been seen as the sacrilege that it was!

I really can’t emphasize enough just how integral The Dark Knight Returns was to the development and legacy of the Batman character.  Both the writing AND the artwork, which was done by Miller as well, truly elevate the concept of the Dark Knight to a level that has yet to be surpassed.  I’m practically SHAKING with anticipation to see what Zack Snyder has in store for us come March 25th!  Just based on the look of Afleck’s portrayal of Bruce AND Batman gives me the impression that we’re about to witness something we’ve never seen before on screen. And quite possibly the BEST cinematic portrayal of the Caped Crusader to date!
Countdown to Batman v. Superman - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Comic Review)
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