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Comic Book / Batman: The Dark Knight Returns aka: The Dark Knight Returns
- In 1987 Miller did Batman: Year One with David Mazzucchelli during his one-arc-long run in the main Batman book. Though it was supposed to be the origin of New Earth's Batman, Word of God says that it was written so that it could also serve as a prequel to DKR.
- In 1994 the much ignored Spawn/Batman came out, written by Miller and drawn by Todd McFarlane. It was an (ill-advised) crossover between the Spawn Universe and the Dark Knight Universe and canon to both, whose only tie to TDKR was that it showed where Batman got the technology that he would use to build his power suit... and that's only a couple of pages.
- In 2001 and 2002, Miller produced a sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. It was more set around Batman than about Batman, being closer to a Justice League story or even a Superman story than a Batman story. Questionable artwork and story developments have made this one of the more controversial Batman stories to date.
- In 2005 to 2008, Miller wrote a prequel, All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, which was even more controversially received than Strikes Again. It eventually went on hiatus, and was meant to return as Dark Knight: Boy Wonder.
- In 2015 a third volume titled Dark Knight III: The Master Race was announced, to be written with Brian Azzarello.
This miniseries contains examples of:
- Air-Vent Passageway: The gigantic leader of the Mutant gang is behind bars awaiting trial. Batman knows that being in prison won't hurt his gang cred one bit (it helps that the Mutant leader spends his free time annoying the prison guards and bragging about what kind of havoc he will make when he gets out, instead of showing remorse... and he also assassinated the Mayor in horrific fashion) — to break the Mutant gang, you must break its leader. Thus, he and Gordon arrange for the leader to escape via the prison air vents and meet Batman for a mud pit duel.
- The Alcoholic: Dialogue from Gordon and Alfred at the start of the series suggests that Bruce is dangerously close to becoming one, if he's not there already. Once he resumes the mission, it's never mentioned again.
- Anime Hair: TV reporter Lola Wong and her improbably triangular hair. See Fashionable Asymmetry.
- Batman is an Unscrupulous Hero or Pragmatic Hero, being more ruthless than his original DC counterpart.
- The Sons Of Batman are more or less Nominal Heroes, as their "crime-fighting" is just as violent as their crimes when they were Mutants.
- Anti-Villain: Superman is a Punch-Clock Villain overlapping with Hero Antagonist in this miniseries. He only reluctantly fights against Batman under orders from the US government.
- Arc Words:
- For Batman: "Lucky" and "This would be a ___ death."
- For Gordon: "I think of Sarah. The rest is easy."
- Attempted Rape: One of the first crimes Bruce stops after he redons the cape and cowl.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Par for the course with Batman, right down to his fights. The page quote is one such example, as he takes down an armed criminal coming up behind him in a dark room by breaking his leg with a kick.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Batman and Catwoman.
- The Mutants kill indiscriminately and with an almost childish glee; one even mentions that they have a quota for murders. Their leader is just as deadly, openly proclaiming that he'll kill Batman and Gordon and eat their hearts.
- The Sons of the Batman don't lose any of their viciousness once they break away from the Mutants, they just start targeting criminals.
- The Joker is depicted as having a love/hate fixation on Batman that he feeds with his indiscriminate killing.Joker (inner dialogue): They could put me in a helicopter and fly me up into the air and line up the bodies head to toe on the ground in delightful geometric patterns like an endless June Taylor dancers routine — and it would never be enough. No, I don't keep count. But you do. And I love you for it.
- Badass Boast: The Mutant leader and Batman exchange them in the mud pit.
- Badass Normal: Do you need to ask?
- Bad Future: Batman is gone for ten years and everything goes to hell.
- Banana Republic: Corto Maltese.
- Batman Gambit: Bruce uses quite a few over the series. Even his final trick relies on knowing Clark will let him go.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Happens twice, once when the Joker breaks his own neck(!) to frame Batman.
- Carrie. The police even mistake her for a boy.
- Yindel too, although she's a somewhat more butch example.
- Big Bad: The US President, who bares more than a slight resemblance to then-current President Ronald Reagan.
- Big Blackout: Affecting the entire U.S., and caused by an electromagnetic pulse from the nuclear explosion.
- Black Helicopter: The Batcopter.
- Book Ends: Inverted[at the opening, as Bruce's racecar crashes] This would be a good death, but not good enough.[at the finale, as he begins his life in the shadows, training his army] This will be a good life. Good enough.
- Brass Balls: Subverted by Byron Brassballs. With that name, you'd think he'd be an exemplar of courage, but he's really a complete asshole who brazenly justifies his sociopathically self-centered behavior and actions in his interviews.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Batman swears in his inner monologue that he's firing rubber bullets on the Mutants. There's seriously no way he's not trying to directly convince the reader he's telling the truth.
- Break the Cutie: This is essentially what happens when Carrie sees the bodies of the Cub Scouts who took the poisoned cotton candy from the Joker. Batman's internal dialogue lampshades it.
- Cape Wings: The imagery is invoked when Batman uses his cape to appear to break his fall when confronting the police during the Joker's attack on The David Endochrine Show and the Joker later on at the fair. The cover art used as the page image above also invokes this imagery.
- Cheap Costume: Carrie Kelly's Robin suit is an off-the-rack costume. She even appears to paint the frames of her glasses black to better emulate his mask for her first patrol.
- Chest Insignia: Turns outit's bulletproof.Batman (internal): Why do you think I wear a target on my chest? I can't armor my head.
- Coincidental Broadcast: Used throughout for exposition.
- Combat Pragmatist:
- The Mutant leader puts his claw-like fingernails and filed teeth to good use in the first fight against Batman.
- Batman becomes one in his second fight with the Mutant leader, since brute force failed spectacularly the first time.
- Comic-Book Time: Averted. Part of the inspiration was Frank Miller wondering "What if Batman actually got older after taking up crimefighting in the '40s?"
- Cool Guns: A few:
- Invoked by Batman when he comments on one of the military-grade handguns used by the Mutants. It's slightly futuristic-looking and specially adapted for a silencer.
- The MP40 is very common. Not only do the Neo-Nazis led by Bruno use them, but, oddly, so do the guards at the police station!
- Cool Old Guy: C'mon now. Batman, Alfred for being so up in the years, still serving and snarky, Jim Gordon, Green Arrow, Superman (despite being arguably on the wrong side), and even the Joker in a dark and nasty way.
- Crapsack World: Between the Mutants, the heat wave, and general decay, Gotham has become a rather nasty place to live.
- Crazy-Prepared: You do know who this comic is about, right?
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Batman's second fight with the Mutant leader. He uses his brains instead of pure brawn, and while he doesn't come away unscathed, he does win decisively.
- Darker and Edgier: Robin kills. Batman mutilates. The Joker's massacres are graphically portrayed. Frank Miller lays out his grim feelings of America for all to see.
- Dating Catwoman: Literally; it's never said outright, but Selena's voicemail to Bruce is a huge hint, they kiss before Batman and Robin go after the Joker, and Gordon has to restrain her from physically attacking Superman after Bruce Wayne's funeral concludes.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Joker lays the snark on thick, but only truly descends into the cackling madman we're familiar with in his final moments as he twists his head around.
- Death by Disfigurement: Toyed with. Batman breaks the Joker's neck just enough to cause paralysis. The Joker finishes the job by himself, both to frame Batman for his death and to spite Batman. And yes, it's medically possible. It's the reason why people tell you not to move after car accidents.
- Death Seeker:
- Bruce has become one by the start of the story, and after he becomes Batman again, he frequently remarks on how certain things would be good or bad deaths as the story progresses.
- Batman suspects that Harvey Dent has become one due to what's happened to him, and by the time his arc is complete, it's proven to be correct.
- Deconstruction: Batman's tactics spur debates on toughness on crime, while Superman's idealism makes him an ideal government cat's paw. The story also deconstructs many elements of Batman's mythos, particularly his potential insanity, as well as showing what kind of world would make Batman not only possible, but necessary.
- Defeating the Undefeatable: Batman beats Superman. Not without some trickery, but still.
- Depending on the Writer: Happens to Batman and Superman a lot but Batman's X-Ray seeking missiles wouldn't be able to tell Superman from anyone else normally because Superman's X-Ray Vision doesn't actually emit X-Rays note not since the Golden Age when they pulled double duty as his Eye Beam attack.
- Despair Event Horizon: Batman suspects that Harvey Dent has been pushed across this. In their final confrontation, it's confirmed by his dialogue and emotional breakdown.
- Determinator: Bruce/Batman. Despite being gutshot and stabbed multiple times by the Joker and shot at several times by the police, Batman still manages to elude them by getting to the Bat-Copter.
- Distaff Counterpart: Carrie to Robin, and hanging on Bruce's every word she becomes more and more like him.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Played straight at first in issue 4, as Batman invokes the trope in his speech to the Sons of the Batman:Batman: *breaks a shotgun in two with his hands* This loud, clumsy, stupid thing... this is the weapon of the enemy. We do not need it. We will not use it.
- That being said, he will use them when they're necessary. In the first issue, he uses a rifle to shoot a grappling line between the Gotham Towers to confront Two-Face and his henchmen. In the fourth issue, he uses Commissioner Yindel's gun to shoot some plastic explosive. He also gets pushed into using one when taking on three Mutant kidnappers who have a toddler as a hostage. The confrontation culminates with Batman pointing one of the Mutant's guns (a frigging M60 GPMG) at the last kidnapper, who is holding the hostage at gunpoint.Mutant: I'll do it man, believe me! Believe me!
Batman: *Shoots the wall behind him and rescues the child* I believe you.
- That being said, he will use them when they're necessary. In the first issue, he uses a rifle to shoot a grappling line between the Gotham Towers to confront Two-Face and his henchmen. In the fourth issue, he uses Commissioner Yindel's gun to shoot some plastic explosive. He also gets pushed into using one when taking on three Mutant kidnappers who have a toddler as a hostage. The confrontation culminates with Batman pointing one of the Mutant's guns (a frigging M60 GPMG) at the last kidnapper, who is holding the hostage at gunpoint.
- Don't Make Me Destroy You: Throughout the fight between Batman and Superman, Supes makes it clear from the start that he doesn't want to kill Bats and practically begs him throughout to just give up so he doesn't have to.
- The '80s: A lot of the action and political commentary stems from real-world politics of the period, in particular the U.S. - Soviet arms race, which comes to a head in part four.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Of a sort. At the start of the story, Bruce has a mustache, but after a sleepwalk (or psychosis-driven fugue; it's not made clear which) into the Batcave, Alfred notices that he's shaved it off...and he didn't realize he'd done it.
- Eyes Always Shut: The reporter Lola Wong. Even when Two-Face shoots a missile into the skyscraper where their studio is located, she never opens her eyes.
- Eye Scream: To reiterate: Sharp batarangs are sharp. Joker learned the hard way.
- Faking the Dead: Batman fakes his death in the final chapter. It fools everyone...almost.
- Falsely Reformed Villain: Happens twice, when the same psychiatrist declares Two-Face legally sane and recommends the Joker make a talk show appearance as part of his rehabilitation.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: The newscaster Lola Wong always wears asymmetrical earrings, plus she has a triangular hairstyle that is much higher on one side than the other.
- Fatal Method Acting: In-Universe, The Joker makes his grand comeback by murdering everyone on The David Endochrine Show, including David himself and Ruth Weisenheimer.
- Fat Girl: Lana Lang.I Was Quite a Looker is averted, though, as her usual depiction is never addressed.
- Fearless Fool: Gets some deconstruction in Harvey Dent, who at the climax of their confrontation leans so far out of his helicopter to try to shoot Batman that he falls from it, with Batman (not knowing for sure that it's actually Dent) noting that whoever it is has Dent's lack of sense of self-preservation. The deconstruction comes from Dent being a Death Seeker who may have done that on purpose.
- Feeling Their Age: Batman is portrayed like this. He starts as a Retired Badass, but soon returns to crime-fighting. Throughout the story Batman keeps on lamenting how slow he's become, culminating in the fight between him and the Mutant leader, who is, as Batman himself states, "in his physical prime". Batman loses, but only because he "tried to fight like a young man". Later he beats the Mutant leader with some Combat Pragmatist moves.
- Flatline Plotline: Batman's ultimate plot in the fourth issue is to remove himself from the public spotlight by faking his death. Being Batman, he kills himself for a while using a special drug, using the fight with Superman both as a cover and as an excuse to work out his anger and frustration with Superman.
- Foreshadowing: Due to age and rust, Batman isn't as stealthy as he used to be. The thugs he's pursuing in the first chapter hear floorboards creaking under him and note that "[...] he never used to make noise before." This bites him hard in the third chapter when the Joker hears one of the funhouse mirrors creaking under his weight and shoots him as he breaks through it.
- Forgiveness: Bruce Wayne has forgiven Joe Chill for killing parents, finally understanding that all he ever wanted was money before the situation escalated. In spite of this, his Batman mindset still wants to punish him for robbery and murder in general.Bruce: He flinched when he pulled the trigger. He was sick and guilty over what he did. All he wanted was money. I was naive enough to think him the lowest sort of man.
- Freudian Excuse: A psychiatrist blames Batman for making the Joker into a raving loon. He might have a point, but the Joker kills him.
- Fun with Acronyms: Sons Of the Batman = SOBs
- Future Slang: The Mutants are all over this one. "Balls nasty!"note a strong epithet, "spud" vs. "slicer-dicer"note rookie Mutant vs. long-timer, "chicken legs"note women, and many others.
- Gang of Hats: The Mutants and their various splinter groups.
- Godzilla Threshold: Discussed at length. During Commissioner Gordon and his replacement Yindel's first conversation, she asks him why he's allowed a vigilante like Batman to operate in Gotham. Gordon talks about the first time he heard the Urban Legend that Franklin D. Roosevelt let Pearl Harbor happen in order to get the US into WWII and stop the greater evil of the Axis. He went back and forth on whether it was morally acceptable if true, until he realized the whole thing was "too big" for him to judge. Later, after Batman rallies the Sons of Batman and the Mutants to quell the mass riots, Yindel finally realizes the same. When asked by an officer if they should do something, she can only respond "No. No. He's too big." Later, a news blurb shows her dodging questions about the police being lax in enforcing her warrants against Batman.
- Going Cold Turkey: When Bruce takes up the cowl again, he quits the sauce. He doesn't have any withdrawal issues, possibly because Batman is an even stronger addiction.
- Good News, Bad News: The President has a very cheerful way of telling the American People about the dangers of nuclear fallout.Well folks, I've got good news and bad news. Heh... The good news is that the Soviets have withdrawn their forces from the island of Corto Maltese.... And the bad news, well... It looks like those Soviets are pretty bad losers, yes they are...
- Go Out with a Smile: Joker laughs the entire time he's twisting his head around to finish breaking his neck, leaving a grin on his face as he dies.
- Grandfather Clause: The Bat-signal is discussed here.
- Groin Attack: Happens to Batman at the foot of the Mutant leader during their first fight.He shows me what a fast kick is. Something explodes in my midsection. Sunlight behind my eyes as the pain rises.
- Hall of Mirrors: Batman chases the Joker into one at the fair. The Joker gut-shoots him after he gives himself away trying to come through a mirror.
- A Handful for an Eye: During their second fight, Batman cuts the Mutant leader over the eyes to blind him with the blood, then compounds that by throwing mud in his face.
- Handicapped Badass: At some point prior to the beginning of the comic, Superman
Batman and Superman: Comparing Two Iconic Superheroes
In March of 2016, DC fans will be getting a Batman and Superman movie titled Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It will be Starring Henry Cavill as Superman, and Ben Affleck as Batman.The film is the starting off point for the potential DC cinematic universe. It is exciting to think that the fans are finally getting to see two of the most iconic comic book characters of all time, in the same film.While Marvel has already crossed over a lot of their superheroes with the film The Avengers, audiences has not yet seen how DC will portray their characters in a cinematic universe. What DC is doing differently is instead of Batman and Superman teaming up at first, they will instead be at each other’s throats. It is interesting that they would take this approach when premiering these two characters on the big screen for the first time.
What is it about Batman facing off against Superman that really gets people excited, besides the fact their both iconic super-heroes duking it out? While they are teammates, the depictions of Batman and Superman’s friendship vary from writer to writer. Sometimes they are working side by side, trying to prevent their villains and vilenesses from destroying a city and or universe. Other times, they take two different sides on an issue, and they argue their points until they eventually fight it out. Because of all these different interpretations, it can be hard to narrow down where they stand regarding their relationship. Do they actually hate each other,or are they just friends that get on each others nerves sometimes?
The most common statement usually said about Batman and Superman is how they are completely opposite of each other.Superman is from the planet of Krypton, and has powers are unlike anything anyone has ever seen. In the golden age, Superman was written as the simple true blooded heroes with amazing powers. Then in the 70’s writers like Elliot Maggin, Curt Swan, John Byrne, and even Alan Moore started to focus more on his ideology, and not just his powers. They explored may interesting concepts with Superman, including what he represents to his country, and the rest of the world. He is the embodiment of America, yet he does not pick sides when dealing with other countries. With his extraordinary powers, he has the opportunity to actually create world peace, by showing the world an alternative to war and destruction. He is not just catch missiles and fight giant robots; he also stands in front of podiums, and trying to ague his point of view. Superman essentially represents something that is severely lacking in even our own government; a voice of reason. Presidents and politicians in general try to implement world peace, but contrasting politics and ideologies with other countries weigh down the chance of a perfect world.
Superman continuously tries to help every noble person he can, and in doing so, puts the entire world on his shoulder. While kryptonite can kill him, his true weakness is trying to make everyone in the world happy, and taking on way too much responsibility for a world that isn’t even his own. Even though some citizens love Superman, he also has a lot of people who hate him; they see him as a threat to the world. The citizens feel Superman holds too much power, and the fact that he works with the government makes him look like part of the problem, not the solution. Even though Superman wants to be on everyone’s side, it just proves that trying to please everyone in the world is impossible. Lastly, Superman also has to remember to use his power in limited amounts. Unless he is fighting Darkseid or Doomsday, he cannot lose control of his massive strength, or he could easily break someone’s neck just by flicking them.
Batman in the golden age of comics had a serious tone, but in the 50’s, he started to be portrayed more child friendly. Then in the 70’s, writer Dennis 0′ Neil and artist Neal Adams brought him back to his more serious roots. Then Frank Miller gave us The Dark Knight Returns and then Alan Moore afterwords wrote The Killing Joke. Both told the character in a more dark and adult way, which has never really been done before. Unlike Superman, who has the whole world on his shoulder, Batman has only one city that depends on him. Batman may save the world from time to time, but his attentions primarily remain in Gotham City. He cares little for politics, and he works outside the law as a vigilante crime fighter. Since he is merely human, he only uses his technology, fighting skill and intellect to defeat his enemies.
Batman symbolizes the common citizen, tying to survive in a superhero dominated world. Him being human does not make him weaker than his Justice League comrades, but actually the most capable of all them. In the story Tower of Babel written by Mark Waid, Batman has secretly planned out a way to defeat all his fellow Leaguers, if they ever become out of control.That demonstrates an important factor of Batman, that being he is very paranoid. He doesn’t trust people so easily, and it causes him to work alone, for the most part. In the famous comic Death in the Family, Jason Todd, the second Robin, was killed by he Joker by being beaten to death with a crowbar. It show that Batman takes a huge risk when taking a side kick under his wing. He only cares that the psychopaths are locked away, so no other child will be orphaned like he was. Superman is too busy saving the world, so Batman needs to focus on street level crime. He knows he cannot do it alone, so he has mentors different Robins and Batgirls throughout the years.
Despite how different Batman and Superman are, they do make the world a better place in their own ways. They have a similar moral code that even the greatest of heroes find hard to stick by: that is to never kill an enemy, no matter how bad their path of distraction. Superman does not kill because his powers are so advanced, he can find ways around killing his opponents. He a true boy-scout, because a common motto Superman continuously states to people is that his powers do not put him above the law; he is not judge, jury, or executioner. In reality, the death penalty is seen as the only way to deal with a criminal or terrorist, before they can hurt more people, but Superman shows why this mindset cannot work. He symbolizes how we can find better alternatives to deal with enemies, besides kill them. We as a society just need to be willing to find it.
Batman does not kill because if he did, he would be no better than the criminals he takes down. He may scare criminals to the point they need therapy, but killing criminals would be crossing the line. Batman is basically crazy, yet he is not a menace to Gotham; it would be scary to think what would happen if he was The Joker level of insanity. One would think Batman and Superman would be commended for not taking lives, but instead are seen as weak. This is not because the citizens of their world are necessarily bloodthirsty, but because they are mostly concerned for the safety of the citizens. There is only so many times Superman can put villains into prison, and Arkham Asylum feels like a revolving door for psychopaths. The citizens want world peace by killing all the enemies that threaten their way of living; oh the irony.
While this shows where their ideologies stand, it does not answer how they feel about each other. As previously said, the depiction of Batman and Superman’s relationship varies from writer to writer. There is the World Finest comics back in the 50’s, in which Batman And Superman would team up to stop crime. There is also the comic book Batman Superman: Public Enemies, where Batman and Superman are hunted by all their super-hero comrades, under orders by President Luthor. They both work together and their camaraderie shows they have a well established friendship. Superman even refers to Batman as his best friend in the story. So there are plenty of stories were the two of them are friends, but what about the stories when they are fighting with each other? When anyone mentions Batman and Superman battling each other, there is one specific storyline that often pops into comic book fan’s head’s first.
The Dark Knight Returns
Before he became a rambling writer that wrote all his women characters as either hookers or sexualized objects, Frank Miller wrote one of the greatest and most iconic Graphic Novels of all time: The Dark Knight Rises. It was certainly not the first dark Batman storyline to be written. However, It was the first Batman story to be told in a completely different way. It was a great example of an elseworld story: a story that does not apply into the character(s) continuity, and is primarily made to write a ‘what if ‘ scenario. In this case, Miller explores the idea of what would happen if Batman grew old. In the story, Batman has been in retirement for a long time after the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin. In his absence, Gotham City has gone to hell, and is being ran by a belligerent gang called the Mutants. Batman sees that the city needs him, so he decides to bring justice back to his city, and shortly after receives assistance from a new female Robin. Not only does Batman have to worry about the Mutants, but also The Joker and even Superman, who has become a puppet of the American Government.
This version of Batman is more unique than the typical portrayal of Batman because of how ruthless he has become. He does not kill his enemies, but he might as well because he leaves them in a condition that they will never recover from, physically and mentally. Batman is old,and does not have the fighting skill he once had. He has become more desperate when it comes to defeating criminals, even resorting to using a gun to injure a criminal. Batman, the man who saw his parents gunned down as a child, is now resigned to a pistol. That is important to keep in mind when reading this story. The reader needs to take how Frank Miller depicts Batman and Superman with a grain of salt. For one, Miller treats Batman as this anti-authority figure, when really that is a bit of an exaggeration of the character. While Batman tries to keep his nose out of politics, he still works with blue-blooded cops. This is because he and the cops want to help the city become a better place.
Then there is the way Miller depicts Superman. Keep in mind when reading this story that Frank Miller hates Superman as a character, and that makes him a little biased. Something about Superman being the boy scout does not appeal to Miller, so once again, he sort of exaggerates the character. Superman now fights only for the American military, and is used to destroy planes and war heads from other countries. First, it is already established that Superman does not pick sides when it come to war, even though he is proud of being American. Secondly, the big factor of Superman is that HE DOES NOT KILL! Superman is too smart and too independent to follow every order of the government; he is a leader, not a soldier. In short, Miller loves Batman, but hates Supermen
Some may wonder why this comic book is so well-remembered, considering the fact that Miller’s view-point of the characters is very one-sided? It is simply because this is the first real-time Batman and Superman have ever fought. No one was under mind control; this was a real fight between two heroes with conflicting views. The fight also ingrained into our memories that Batman can still go toe to toe with Supermen. Before this comic, the idea of Batman fighting Superman was preposterous. However, give Batman a mechanically armored suit and a shard of Kryptonite, and he’s able to make the Man of Steel a little less invincible.
The graphic novel is still a great read, with excellent political commentary, and a ballsy Batman story to tell, even today. With that said, the depiction of Batman and Superman’s friendship is very one-sided; leaning more towards Batman. There is another infamous DC elseworld story with a similar plot, but a completely different way of telling the story.
The best way to describe Kingdom Come is imagine The Dark Knight Returns, but without all the cynicism. Created by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, the story is told in the style of the golden age of comics. The golden age of comics was a simple time in comics, in which the heroes we there to simply stop the bad guys and to save the day. In this story, they set up that golden age feel, but simply apply it in a real world setting. In this Graphic Novel, The Joker Kills a majority of people in the Daily Planet, Including Lois Lane, and instead of being haled off to prison once again, he is killed by a new meta-human named Magog. Superman tries to convict Magog of the murder, but most of the citizens want Magog to keep patrolling the world as a super-hero, while Superman reluctantly goes into retirement. Now all of the classic super-heroes are old and retired from crime-fighting, and the world is overrun with rambunctious meta-humans acting as “heroes.” After Kansas is destroyed after a meta-human fight, Superman has had enough of the recklessness, and reforms the Justice League.
While The Dark Knight Returns was Batman’s story, Kingdom Come is Superman’s story and his struggle to keep a better world. It is no longer the villains Superman has to worry about, but the super-heroes in general. His ideology of not killing is really better in the end, and story tells the reader why. Now every superhero is killing all the villains they see, and in doing so has created a chaotic way of living, as they care little about casualties and mass distraction. All Superman wants is the humans and the meta-humans to get along, and neither side is seeing a middle ground. It is either the meta-humans need to go entirely, or humans need to get out-of-the-way and to just let them fight. Out of anyone in this chaotic world, Superman is the primary voice of reason the world needs.
Batman is also in the story, but he is not villainized to make Superman look better in comparison; Batman just deals with the meta-humans in his own way. Batman has nearly broken every bone in his body, and needs an exoskeleton just to simply walk. After his mansion was destroyed by Bane and Two-Face when Batman had his identity revealed, he how lingers in the bat cave, and his robotic bat-knights patrol Gotham City for him. Batman is not the antagonist of book, but he has sort of crossed a line with practically ruling Gotham City, so no further crimes can be committed. While Superman represents the meta-humans, Batman represents the normal humans, who are all too often caught in the crossfire of meta-human battles. He sees Superman as weak, because he stayed and protected the world while Superman basically left the world behind.
Kingdom Come perfectly demonstrates how Batman and Superman clearly have conflicting sides, although both those sides stem from the same problem. When Superman is pleading for Batman’s help by the 3rd act of the book, he basically sums up their relationship perfectly.
“The deliberate taking of human–even super-human life goes against every belief I have–and that you have. That’s the one thing we’ve always had in common. It’s what made us what we are. More than anyone in this world, when you scratch everything else away from Batman, your left with someone who doesn’t want to see anybody die”
In other words, Batman and Superman are the only real two superheroes that relate with not taking people’s lives. Not simply because of the fact that they do not want to kill, but also the internal struggle of never resorting to kill just because it is the easy way out. Kingdom Come is essentially how heroes need to help citizens rather than rule over them like self-proclaimed gods, and deep down both Batman and Superman understand that perfectly.
As much fun as is to see Batman and Superman butt heads with each other, when you get right down to it, they really only want the same thing in the end. Superman wants to prevent the whole world from killing each other, and Batman wants the world to be rid of punks with guns, while not stooping to their level. Even in the comics when they are fighting each other, there is still a sign of respect for one another. With that said, it seems like people more associate Batman and Superman fighting each other, which is why Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is being made. It is not bad to see these two fight on the big screen, but if they don’t come to an understanding by the end of the film, then they would have lost the meaning of their relationship. This is concerning because Zach Snyder has said he has been taking a lot of inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns. As stated in this article, That comic portrayed Batman as the undisputed right-minded, while Superman is portrayed as a dog of the military. Let’s hope that Snyder takes liberties when taking inspiration from Frank Miller. There is a reason these two characters have been ingrained as the most iconic superheroes of all time. One way or another, they both represent how we can better ourselves in a violent and at times unreasonable society.
Here is hoping that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be awesome.
Waid, Mark.Ross, Alex.Kingdom Come. DC Comics. New York, NY:1996
Miller,Frank.The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics. New York, NY:1986
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