Buck's Reviews > Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Batman by Frank Miller
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's review
Oct 13, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: sequential-art
Read from October 13 to 15, 2010

Call it art if you want to, but at the end of the day it’s still a dopey comic book about a guy in a form-fitting outfit who runs around beating people up. Am I missing something?

But really, I’m just mad at myself for giving four stars to Batman: Year One the other day, apparently during a manic episode. So I’m downgrading this bad boy. Year One has the stronger artwork anyway, and its ectomorphic Batman is drawn on a more human scale, with some of the ludicrous pathos of a young Adam West still clinging to him:

Whereas Frank Miller’s Batman looks like an elderly bodybuilder in a permanent state of roid rage:

Finally, I’m still trying to get my head around the psychosexual dynamics of the DC universe. What was Batman thinking when he installed an androgynous 13-year-old pixy as his sidekick—then led her into hand-to-hand combat against a mob of slavering lowlifes? And what’s going on here, hmmm?

Uh, that's not my utility belt, Robin.
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05/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 57) (57 new)

Esteban del Mal You bastard.

This "comic" got me through adolescence.

Sadly, I grew up and found out that Frank Miller is a fascist asshole (there's your psychosexual dynamic).

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I once slowly sickened with a medical condition called a spinal headache - it's like the worst pain you can ever feel ever, and that includes childbirth, which I had experienced - while trying to watch Sin City, which has put me off Frank Miller forever. It makes me nauseous to think of his visual style. You know, just fyi.

Are you going on in this comic quest? There's totally stuff I want you to read, so we can disagree and you can break my heart. On second thought....

message 3: by D. (new)

D. Pow well, shit, a person can be a FASCIST ASSHOLE and a great(popular) ARTIST. I always tripped on the vibe between Carrie Kelley and Bruce too though I choose to look the other way- I assumed all was innocent-now it does make one feel vaguely yucky.

Estaban- It was Frank Miller's run on Daredevil that helped me get through some times...and earlier Claremont/Byrne's X-Men and Jim Shooter/George Perez' Avengers. Back before Miller darkened super heroes forever...

I think it is much better to read this stuff when you're young otherwise the mythology, the larger than life muscles and curves are all just so laughable.

William Thomas we can down-play the importance of any great book or work of art if we want to be reductionist about it- Notes From the Underground is just about some guy running around whining, Romeo and Juliet is a story about two mopey teenagers, Swann's Way is pretty much like reading a book about someone flipping through old photographs. redcutionism, it's the tool of every dull critic.

Esteban del Mal D., that Daredevil run was awesome. I dressed up as Nuke for Halloween that year.

Gimme a red.

Have you read Marshal Law? (Did Marshal Law predate Miller's Daredevil?)

Esteban del Mal I know!

I always wondered why guys weren't more "truthful" when she lassoed them! I'd say things like, "Please step on me with your boots. Now!"

Buck William wrote: "we can down-play the importance of any great book or work of art if we want to be reductionist about it- Notes From the Underground is just about some guy running around whining, Romeo and Juliet i..."

Next you’re going to tell me The Lord of the Rings isn’t about a hairy-footed midget running around with a fashion accessory in his pocket. It seems to me that the way to counter “dull” reductionist criticism would be to offer a passionate and articulate defence of the art you love. I’m sure such a defence could be made for this comic book; I just haven’t seen yours yet. So until you convince me otherwise, I’m going to stick with “dopey” as a reductionist shorthand.

I was a Marvel man in my youth. The Punisher—now there was a fascist I could get behind. Dolph Lundgren as an Aryan, Swedish-accented vigilante was, in hindsight, a brilliant casting choice.

And Elizabeth, I blame Linda Carter for many of my girl troubles today. Wonder Woman and Daisy Duke between them basically ruined me as far as “psychosexual dynamics” are concerned.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Has anyone read the new Wonder Woman, by J. Michael Straczynski? I am upset by her new outfit, which includes a sweater, and does not include red boots. It's really more shrug than sweater, but that's only worse. I can't find it on GR, because I'm not trying very hard.


Buck Forgot to say, Ceridwen: I'm open to comic-book recommendations, if you really want to fight about something. The new Wonder Woman is probably a non-starter, though.

message 10: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Awwww. I want you guys to fight about comic books!!!! Yaaaaaay!

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't want to fight, really, I just don't often have an excuse to read comics, and I never know where to start. Superhero comics make me tired, mostly, so I'm not really interested in the new WW, even though I liked Absolute Power or whatever the one JMS comic I read was called. I do want to read V for Vendetta, and Moore is polarizing as hell, so that could be fun.

message 12: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Yeah, I want to read V, too. RBR pick?

Esteban del Mal I haven't read comics in years. But I have been tempted by what appear to be some pretty kickass zombie comics I see at the bookstore.

message 14: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck Yeah, I'd totally read V. I say we form an RBR splinter group. Have you seen the books in the latest poll? Horrifying.

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

You fuckers better go in there and vote, because I'm not reading a twincest novel, and that's all there is to it.

Yay! Let's read V! We don't have to start a group or anything! Just read it!

message 16: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Buck wrote: "Yeah, I'd totally read V. I say we form an RBR splinter group. Have you seen the books in the latest poll? Horrifying."

Please to note, they were all selected by a dude.

message 17: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow I voted! WTF, Buck! Married with Zombies is quality reading material. I read, like, the whole first page, and it was freaking awesome. I can't believe this garbage splinter-group nonsense I'm hearing. Sputter.

message 18: by smetchie (new)

smetchie Esteban wrote: "I know!

I always wondered why guys weren't more "truthful" when she lassoed them! I'd say things like, "Please step on me with your boots. Now!""


message 19: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck Okay, I held my nose and voted. Not that I have any intention of reading Married with
freaking Zombies. I just don't want you guys to have to read twincest erotica.

So V's a go, then?

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm in.

Married with freaking Zombies was teh awesome though, fyi.

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Anytime. I need to request it from the library, and that takes 2 weeks or so. Yes, I'm cheap.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

But not easy.

Ba dump tss.

message 23: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Ummm. Between pillow fighting and getting sick, I've actually gotten really behind with school. I really want to do this, but I just might be a little delayed.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh I'm psyched. My brother got me V a couple of years ago and it's just been sitting on my shelf.

message 25: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck I just placed a hold on it at the library. I'm both cheap and easy. Ba-da-bing.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Buck wrote: "I just placed a hold on it at the library. I'm both cheap and easy. Ba-da-bing."

Oh, baby.

Everyone reading this is in the RBRS, right? Should we just start a thread there, causing Meredith to sputter? I can choose both Married with Zombies and V, because I am not in law school. :)

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh good. I was just about to send you an email, seeing if that was okay, but now I don't have to!


message 28: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Sputter.

Ganglion Bard-barbarian Since Batman is portrayed as a fascist in the comic, it is apropos that he exploits an androgynous working-class teenage girl throughout. Whether this is the author's intention or not is irrelevant, it is still a reflection of the relationship between fascism and patriarchy.

And the aging superheroes only give the comic more realism. Not every superhero comic has to be World War Hulk or Kingdom Come, thank God.

Michael Trout OMG people - it was an awesome graphic novel. End of Story.

message 31: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck You heard the man, everybody. Maybe you thought Goodreads was all about informed debate and the exchange of ideas. Not so. Michael has spoken. He has issued an edict. End of story.

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

I for one am completely convinced by Michael's proclamation.

Have you seen the movie yet? Not that that has anything to do with Miller's take here.

message 33: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck Not yet. Maybe this week. You? I don't know why I bother, though. I haven't gotten excited about a Batman movie since Michael Keaton hung up his tights.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Really? Huh. Christian Bale was my boyfriend for a little while, but then he turned out to be kind of an ass. But seriously, I think the Batman movies are probably the best explication of Bush-era neoconservativism. I thought it was a solid ending on that.

Esteban del Mal Here's a review that, having not seen the movie, I fully endorse:


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

I completely agree with that reading. Which is why I loved the movie, perversely.

message 37: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck I had almost the same reaction to this comic book. As I wrote in another review: "The Dark Knight Returns is what happens when an American proto-Tea Partier has a hysterical identification with Reaganism."

Batman is probably a better guide to the evolution of conservative ideology than George Will.

But now I'm gonna go back to that good men site and read the article on penises.

Esteban del Mal Buck wrote: "I had almost the same reaction to this comic book. As I wrote in another review: "The Dark Knight Returns is what happens when an American proto-Tea Partier has a hysterical identification with Reaganism."

Applause, Buck. Applause.

James It's ok guys. He is just tired. It takes Alot of energy being a dopey jerkoff

Tanner if you have no super hero comics why are you reviewing one? I'm not saying you even need to accept it as art but the people who are going to consider reading this do. if you want to write a bad review of a comic or a graphic novel, go ahead.. but no one is gonna take your review seriously if you completely dismiss the genre before saying anything about the story or the art

message 41: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck That's okay. I don't take this review very seriously myself. It's about a dopey comic book, after all.

This may surprise you, but I'm not terribly concerned about the feelings of 'the people who are going to consider reading this.' I'm more interested in expressing my opinion as clearly and honestly as I can. I'm old-fashioned that way.

message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

The thing you have to know about this book is that Adam West Batman was pretty much it for all superheroes until 1986 and this comic. If you like anything about Batman as he is now, this book, purposefully ugly and morally confused, is responsible for all that Batman is today.

Johnny Machurek Some parts I was not a fan of but overall I thought it was very good and an enjoyable read.

Grady Stoodt I would just like to inform you that Frank Miller's art form is an abstract one which is at times strange, but is one I admire.

Malemnganbi dude you missed the point, did you read till the end. if not, please do, you'll get a sense.

Bobby Bermea Reading the comic book and then criticizing it for being a comic book is kind of strange. If you don't like reading about guys in tights beating people up, then why did you read this AND Year One? Among others, I have no doubt.

message 47: by Buck (new) - rated it 2 stars

Buck You have a point. Most comic books aren't for me, but I did make an honest effort to appreciate this one on its own terms.

But do you think only comic-book fans should be allowed to read and talk about Batman? That seems like a fairly intolerant position. I happen to love some of Shakespeare's plays, but if you were to crap all over them for being stagey or old-timey or whatever, I wouldn't stand in your way. Hell, if you were funny and interesting about it, I'd even vote for your review.

Oh, and Grady? I appreciate your trying to educate me and all, but I don't think "abstract" means what you think it means.

Bobby Bermea Hey Buck. No, I don't think "allowed" comes into it at all. But I'm not sure that a guy wearing tights is any sillier than a guy rising from the dead to drink people's blood or a far away universe where everybody speaks English. It's the convention. Of the art form.

And I think Grady's point is that Miller's artwork is highly stylized on purpose. Miller can draw realistic people, almost cinematic, as he did in his early days on Daredevil. But The Dark Knight Returns was a progression, a departure from that. The art was communicating something in and of itself that the narrative wasn't. I mean, if I look at Picasso's Weeping Woman and and say, "well, she doesn't even look like a human" I'm not wrong but I'm missing the point(yes, I just compared Frank Miller to Picasso).

At any rate, you don't have to like it. I happen to LOVE comic books and I think the The Dark Knight Returns is stunning in its ambition and execution, so that's where my prejudices lie.

Bobby Bermea And you know, in The Dark Knight Returns Batman is an "elderly bodybuilder in a permanent state of roid rage" or some kind of rage. And the psychosexual dynamics are strange. They always are in a medium where women wear form-fitting, gravity-defying bikinis and spike-heeled, thigh-high boots to fight crime. So you got more of it than you thought. It just wasn't the story you wanted to read.

message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

This is the result when people cannot understand the importance of a comic book. Wait and read more serious and good comics and then you will realize the huge mistake you have done.

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