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Book Review
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, Part 3

Author: Bill Ramey
Thursday, December 21, 2006

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
"It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now as his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, The Joker and Two-Face for the final time, Batman finds himself in mortal combat with his former ally, Superman, in a battle that only one of them will survive.

This collection is hailed as a comics masterpiece and was responsible for the launch of the Batman movies."

BATMAN: The Dark Knight Returns Action Figures and Deluxe Book Gift Set
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
Action Figures & Deluxe Book Gift Set

It is considered a modern comic book classic as well as one of the greatest Batman stories every told.

Originally published as a four-issue miniseries in 1986, Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (with Klaus Janson on inks and colors by Lynn Varley) reintroduced Batman to the mainstream public as the dark character in which he was originally conceived in 1939. It also helped to bring about a period of "grim and gritty" superhero comic books from the mid-1980s on into the early 2000s.

I first read TDKR about 20 years ago when I was still in college. This was back in the days when I was “too cool” for Batman, so I actually read each issue at a local mall bookstore.

Recently, I’ve been picking up various Batman novels, TPBs, books, etc. each week when I visit my comic book shop. While looking over there expansive selection, it struck me that I had not read arguably one of the best Batman stories ever in nearly two decades. So I did what every self respecting Batman fan would do: I bought the thing.

What I plan on doing is providing a fairly spoiler-free synopsis of each of the four books that make up TDKR and then end with my overall take on Frank Miller’s masterpiece.


Issue #3, "HUNT THE DARK KNIGHT," by Frank Miller

BOOK THREE: "HUNT THE DARK KNIGHT"

One thing that I’ve noticed as I have been reading THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS is that in many ways, it feels as if I’m reading it for the first time. I mean, it’s been about 20 years since I first and last read the thing. In fact, I read the thing cover-to-cover while standing in a mall bookstore all those many years ago.

Book Two concluded with the final confrontation between The Batman and the leader of the Mutants. Since you are now caught up, I’ll move along to Book Three, “HUNT THE DARK KNIGHT,” which features the final showdown between The Dark Knight and The Joker. And for your reading pleasure, I’ll run through it “Scattershots” style yet again…

“HUNT THE DARK KNIGHT” opens is a small convenience store as a group of neo-Nazis (who are ex-Mutants) are attempting to rob the place. The Batman -- disguised as a homeless person -- intervenes in his own special way…

The Joker has now fully returned from his catatonic state. He convinces his psychiatrist that he’s remorseful and rehabilitated. Of course, that’s total BS -- he’s already concocted another crazy, murderous scheme…

The Joker’s scheme is carried out while he appears on “The David Endocrine Show” -- a David Letterman parody -- and The Clown Price of Crime is unleashed upon Gotham…

Superman -- now a undercover government operative -- travels to Gotham to convince Bruce to “slow down.” Obviously, a showdown between The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight coming…

The Joker plays a visit to Selina Kyle -- now an overweight owner of an, ahem, “escort service.” He plans on using two of her “employees” to carry out whatever crazy-ass plan he’s cooked up. He beats Selina, puts her in a Wonder Woman costume, and then leaves a clue for The Batman as to where to find him. “Bruce…He’s worse than ever,” Selina warns The Batman…

We find out why Superman sold out…

The Joker plans to carry out his dastardly plot at the county fair which will be full of people. It is there that he and The Batman will have a final confrontation…

The Gotham police are hot on the heals of Batman and Robin throughout the story, thus the title…

“HUNT FOR THE DARK KNIGHT” was the best book so far for this writer and Bat-fan because it is essentially a Batman vs. The Joker story. Also, Batman contemplates the unthinkable when it comes to his arch-enemy: Should he simply take him out once and for all? And, perhaps more importantly, why didn't he do it years ago?

NEXT...BOOK FOUR: "THE DARK KNIGHT FALLS"

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

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