OK, so I know that this review is about 20 odd years late, but having just finished the graphic novel I picked up, I figured “what the hell”.
I don’t need to introduce the protagonist, because if you don’t know who Batman is, you do not belong here and you need to leave. The Dark Knight Returns is a violent, moody, wonderful piece of comic literature (yes I said literature) that deserves to be on everyone’s book shelf. It is one of those comics that really shows what the medium can do as a work of art. And it is a work of art. DKR brings us into a Gotham that is older, darker, more sinister. A Gotham that has lost any innocence it might once have possessed. Batman has been missing for a decade, after superheroes were deemed too dangerous to continue their quasi-legal operations. Crime has risen to an all time high and a vicious gang called The Mutants has become the law outside the law. A situation ripe, practically begging, for the return of the Caped Crusader and his particular brand of justice.
Frank Miller has created a riveting, incredible vision for the Batman as we are introduced to a Bruce Wayne 60ish, tortured by his past and increasingly consumed with his single minded passion for meting out justice in a gray and blue suit. When a reformed Harvey Dent is released from Arkham Asylum, his Two-Face persona seemingly suppressed, it sparks a series of events that engender the return of arguably the greatest comic book hero of all time. Batman must face off against a world that no longer wants him, a body ravaged by time and persistent regrets over his past.
The art style is a bit dated, as some of the fashions are right out of a Cyndi Lauper video, but it is still gritty and dark enough to keep up with the excellent script. DKR is one of the finest comics I have read, and it is now proudly keeping company with my other books. Do yourself a favor and read this comic, even if (especially if) you do not like Batman. Miller really showed the world of 1986 that comics could be both for adults and most importantly well written.