FEBRUARY - JUNE: Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETUNRS is first released as a four-part miniseries. The collected edition was released a short time later as a graphic novel. It is considered one of the greatest Batman stories of all time as well as one of the most important graphic novels in comic book history.
TDKR was adapted as a two-part animated film with Part 1 being released on Blu-ray/DVD in September of 2012 and Part 2 dropping in January of 2013. Both parts were later edited together and released as a single film on home video. Peter Weller voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne in the film.
Director Christopher Nolan’s portrayal of Batman in the 2012 film THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was partially inspired by TDKR as the former also features an older Bruce Wayne again becoming Batman after being retired for several years. Also, an older GPD officer tells his younger partner, “Oh boy, you’re in for a show tonight son!” when Batman first reappears – a nod to a similar scene in TDKR.
Director Zack Snyder’s Batman in the 2016 film, BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE was visually influenced by TDKR – in particular the armored Batsuit Batman wears in the film in his showdown with Superman. Snyder also paid tribute to TDKR during the film’s finale with a shot of Batman recreating the classic pose in front of a lighting flash.
There have also been nods to TDKR in the following animated Batman TV series: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN, TEEN TITANS, THE BATMAN, and BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.
SEPTEMBER: The first Post-Crisis meeting between Batman and Superman was detailed in THE MAN OF STEEL #3. Instead of best friends, it established Batman and Superman as uneasy allies who distrusted each other. Batman would get his own Post-Crisis origin revamp like Superman in THE MAN OF STEEL (written by John Byrne) the following year with BATMAN: YEAR ONE by Frank Miller.
OCTOBER: The 400th issue of BATMAN (vol. 1) is released.
JETT REMEMBERS THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS brought me back to Batman.
Now, I didn’t run out and buy it as soon as the individual issues were released in 1986. No, I used to frequent my local mall’s bookstore as I, well, like books and enjoy reading. At this book store, they also sold comics and graphic novels, and I accidentally stumbled upon the collected, graphic novel version of TDKR. I saw it on the rack, thumbed through it, and proceeded to read the entire damn thing! Now I didn’t buy it ‘til a few years later (probably in 1989 during “Batmania”), but my book store trips became more frequent – mostly so I could read Batman comics without the “shame” of visiting a comic book store (GASP!) and actually buying them. (FYI: I also discovered and read WATCHMEN the very same way at this same book store!)
The only comics I clearly remember buying in 1986 was John Byrne's THE MAN OF STEEL miniseries which revamped Superman's origin. I still own all those issues today.
Share your memories of Batman in 1986 in the comments section below! - Bill "Jett" Ramey