The Dark Knight Strikes Again Review Book #1 by Deffinition
The Dark Knight Returns was a Tour D’Force, a pierce de resistance and other French terms that make something sound really good. Upon its release in 1986 it changed the landscape of comics, in an instant making the 1966 version of Batman irrelevant and presenting a darker version of the Caped Crusader that would endure for the next three decades.
It was a huge success both critically and commercially and as with all things successful, the company behind it wanted more. More money, more success so it became more of commodity. In 2001 Frank Miller was commissioned to create a sequel that would take place after the initial book, extending it’s continuity.
Often works like this suffer a sophomore curse. When a property is so highly regarded it becomes difficult for it’s offshoots to live up to the memory, nostalgia and high esteem that fans hold in their heart. We’ve seen it with Terminator, Star Wars, The Lord Of The Rings and several properties with with obligatory sequels down the line.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again was no different.
Criticised by many the reputation of this book precedes it. Often used as a punchline it is laughed at by many, yet regarded by some as ground breaking.
I’m here to find out if it’s as bad as everyone says or like Grant Morisson states, it is a master piece.
So with that out the way let’s dive in to chapter one of The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
The Art Knight Strikes Again
Upon opening the book you are immediately hit with how bad the Art is in comparison to it’s predecessor. Whilst I was never a fan of the Dark Knight Returns art style, this makes it look like a Da Vinci painting. Most of the pages here look like they were drawn by Stevie Wonder. Most of the panels are missing backgrounds, the women look like Nicki Minaj and it just has a flash of the Lazy,
perverted Frank Miller, that so many would come to hate, all over it. You could use these pages as toilet paper and it would still be more productive than what Miller put out.
The first time I read this book I remember getting to the Atom section and just flinging it out my hands. I was a moody teenager. I hadn’t lost my virginity so I pent up a lot of anger till that happened when I was twenty eighttttt…..eeen…I was eighteen. And she was a model. And she paid me. Anyway the point is the book was really garish and it almost felt like a chore to read.
I’m happy to say that with age it’s become slightly more bearable but you have to really force yourself through the pages and I can imagine this massively putting new readers off in the same way it did to me.
News to me
Opening on three different news segments all happening at once, the book feels like a complete mess. Frank Miller needs to listen to focus by Ariana Grande because it’s lacking focu….yeah a lot of these jokes don’t work. What I can get from the garble is that America is in a state of martial law yet the news spin it so that it is positive. Crime is down but so is free speech. The heroes of the world are gone.
This really reminded me of the WMD scandal after 9/11. The population believed it was right to go to war with Iraq because the media reported every prejudice as if it was fact. It’s a relevant commentary that unfortunately due to its presentation loses it’s impact.
In between each report is a post of ‘News in the Nude’ and whilst this may be a hint that people only watch the news for entertainment now it could have been presented in a better way.
Up and Atom
The focus of this opening issue revolves around getting the heroes back. The Atom has been trapped in a Petri dish, Green Lantern has flown off earth and The Flash is forever running on a hamster wheel to give electricity to the world. Leading the Sons of Batman, Carrie Kelley, Now Catgirl, charges a onslaught to get the captured crusaders back and had the Art been slightly better these moments could have been much more exciting.
There is three pages of the book that are just Microsoft word backgrounds and in it’s entirety it feels sloppy. We see a Batman soldier get crucified for using one of his guns to kill an enemy but it makes you wonder why they were even given guns in the first place. The book is contradictory to its own ideas and it’s a shame that it doesn’t allow the characters to carry over the intelligence that they possessed last time.
The President Is A Hologram
One of the main criticisms that I’ve seen against this book is that the public don’t seem to care that the President is in fact a hologram controlled by Lex Luthor. In the past I agreed with them, however seeing how politics have evolved I think Miller was ahead of his time.
Living in the UK I have seen Theresa May promise tough negotiations on Brexit, say she will step down if not elected by a majority, lambast the DUP and then still side with them in order to stay in power and honestly few seem to care. The older generation seem to be used to politicians lying and now are so apathetic to it that they ignore any story that should be met with anger towards the Government. Donald Trump slams Mexicans, Transexuals and Gay rights, yet is speechless when discussing Neo Nazis and his supporter don’t seem to care. In fact they rally even harder for him.
Originally one of the lowest points, the presidential hologram is a satirical look at how useless the people of the western world have become. In the past there would have been Revolution yet now we are happy with sitting on our phones, reading stupid Batman reviews.
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The Man Of Steel
Aboard the Justice League WatchTower Superman finally realises that enough is enough. He has sacrificed too much! Joined by Wonder Woman and Shazam he questions the higher ups. Unfortunately for the group Lex Luthor and Brainiac are aware of the meeting. Holding the bottled city of Kandor as a ransoming chip the duo threaten the super friends.
They want to know who has freed the heroes and know Superman is the only one who can obtain the answers.
“Get The Hell Out Of My Cave”
Knowing that Batman is the one behind it all he swoops down to the cave expecting an easy fight. In a repeat of last time Superman gets the absolute s**t kicked out of him.
It’s absolutely glorious.
Hitting him from every angle The Blue Boy Scout gets pummeled.
It’s a earth shattering moment watching The Flash, Green Arrow, Atom and Batman’s pet robot dinosaur take the Man Of Steel apart bit by bit. When Batman arrives with Kryptonite Gloves, hammering him with deadly shot after deadly shot it’s a triumphant moment and one of the standout pieces of TDKR canon thus far.
I’ve seen many criticise the drawn out nature of Batman’s entrance but the fact that the entire comic builds to this moment means that it pays off wildly. We are left with Superman completely broken and Batman confirming that he’s done playing around. This is war.
Due to the art style the opening issue really struggles to be as groundbreaking as it could have been. Plot points lack their impact due to the childlike, cartoonish nature of the work which is a real shame as there is a lot here worth your attention. Introducing Batman perfectly, this story feels more like a prologue to the events that are to follow. It establishes elements of the world but feels slightly unfocused, acting more as a Carrie Kelly book than a Bruce Wayne one.
Your enjoyment of this Issue really depends on your preferences. To me the payoff at the end is worth the sometimes arduous journey, however I can see it putting many people off.
This may be the reason for it’s dire reputation and whilst it doesn’t match up to it’s predecessor, there is still a lot to enjoy in this opening issue in a ‘so bad it’s good’ kinda way. That’s why it gets an…