Batman - The Return of the Dark Knight

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The graphic novel Batman - The Return of the Dark Knight (original title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns , DK1 for short ) by Frank Miller is based on the superhero character " Batman " created by Bob Kane and is about the reappearance and ultimately the final battle of an aging Batman. Despite its brevity as a miniseries, it has influenced the whole genre.


Book 1: The Dark Knight Returns

The first part, The Return , takes the reader to a gloomy Gotham City that was set in the 1980s . The city is ruled by a gang called Mutants . Bruce Wayne is now 55 years old and has not appeared as Batman for more than ten years. He still lives in his mansion with his butler Alfred and continues to be tormented by the memory of the murder of his parents. He paid for Harvey Dent's plastic surgery, who was "Two Face", to help him return to society. However, driven by the increasing brutality of the mutants, Wayne decides to appear again as Batman and ends the raids in aggressively portrayed images. At the end of the chapter, Harvey Dent blackmailed the city by threatening to blow up Gotham's Twin Towers. Batman takes him prisoner and despite the facial operation Two Faces old face in his mind's eye. He sees in him a reflection of his own split personality.

Book 2: The Dark Knight Triumphs

The following part, The Triumph, tells of Batman's fight against the leader of the mutants. With the help of his technically superior Batmobile, he can isolate the leader and engage in a fist fight with him. Batman threatens to lose this because his body is showing signs of aging, but through the intervention of the girl Carrie Kelly , who will be the new Robin , the leader of the youth gang can be arrested. At the same time, the discussion about the legitimacy of Batman's actions begins in the media. The president also sees a problem in Batman and asks Superman for help. In order to eliminate the threat posed by mutants altogether, Batman, with the support of Police Chief James Gordon, who will then retire, frees the mutant leader, because only if he were defeated in front of his gang would they recognize his defeat. They compete in the mud, where Batman's physical handicaps are less significant. Batman's victory is watched by the mutants, who then disintegrate. As Batman's sons , some of them decide to hunt down criminals as well, using extremely brutal methods fanatically.

Book 3: The Dark Knight is Hunted

In the third part, The Hunt , Joker is led by his gullible psychologist Dr. Bartholomew Wolper certifies recovery. For years the Joker vegetated lethargic in the psychiatry. However, when he learns that Batman has reappeared, he becomes active again, which is a sign that Batman himself created the psychopaths he fought for years. The Joker is then allowed to appear on a talk show, from which he can escape with the help of a poison gas attack. Batman wants to join the police investigation, but he is viewed as an opponent by the new police chief Ellen Yindel. Pursued by the police, Batman places Joker in an amusement park. At the end of a bloody and violent showdown, Batman, seriously injured by numerous knife wounds, defeats the Joker. This scene is often misinterpreted. Even in American secondary literature, it is sometimes depicted in such a way that Batman kills the Joker here. Miller, however, lets the Joker himself say: "... They will kill you ... and never find out ... that you couldn't ...". The Joker himself "turns what is left of his spine with devilish force." He commits suicide, but the police assume that Batman is the killer.

Book 4: The Dark Knight Falls

In the last part of The Case , a bellicose US president, easily recognizable as a cartoon of Ronald Reagan , includes Superman in his war plans for the South American island of Corto Maltese . Superman can prevent the direct impact of a huge nuclear missile of the USSR on inhabited areas, but the electromagnetic pulse of the explosion triggers a total blackout in America and weakens Superman considerably. In the chaos that followed, Batman and previously marauding mutants restore order in Gotham. As a result, Batman further undermines the authority of the president, who now calls on Superman to take Batman out of circulation. In this final battle, Batman wins the upper hand with a specially reinforced exoskeleton modeled after his costume with the assistance of Oliver Queen ( Green Arrow ) and synthetic kryptonite , but suffers a sudden and fatal heart attack. Robin saves Queen and himself with the batcopter. At the same moment the bath cave explodes and Alfred dies. Bruce Wayne's accounts have been emptied and his identity is being made public in the media. As Clark Kent, Superman organizes the funeral for Batman, but at the last moment he can hear heartbeats in the coffin, which makes him realize that Batman faked his own death by using drugs. However, Superman ignores this. Batman decides to hide and no longer openly fight the crime in the future in order to protect himself from the government and retreats with Robin, Queen and some supporters to a cave under the old Bath cave as a new base to meet new vigilantes as his To train successors.


When DC Comics sales plummeted in 1984, Batman was still the most popular superhero based on a poll. Dick Giordano therefore thought it was time to restart the Dark Avenger. Frank Miller, a Batman fan since childhood, wanted to take on this. But since it had always bothered him that Batman didn't age, he wanted to portray him a little older in this work. Miller originally didn't want to use the character Robin at all. John Byrne also recommended that Robin should be a girl this time.


The book is the version of The Dark Knight Returns published by DC Comics in 1986, translated into German by Uwe Anton, and was first published in 1989 in the "comicArt Edition" by Carlsen . It is divided into four parts.

Similar to the US original, the book has various different editions and editions. The first edition of Carlsen appeared in four editions. There was also a Bertelsmann Book Club edition with a different cover. In September 1997 Carlsen brought out the volume together with four other volumes in a slipcase limited to 2500 copies ( Batman - Imzeichen der Fledermaus ).

In 2002 Panini-Verlag published a new translation under the title Batman - The Dark Knight Returns . This time Steve Kups was the translator. This edition is meanwhile also out of print and there is a second edition with a different cover. In addition, a slipcase was published by Panini which, in addition to the story, also contained material that had not been published in German until then (storyboard, sketches, etc.). The last edition (as of May 2008) is also from Panini and is called Batman: The Dark Knight . In this hardcover is printed: Batman - The Dark Knight Returns , the sequel Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Back and in addition to various new additional material (bonus artwork, sketches, comments and the reprint of the original script with Miller's handwritten remarks) Foreword by Frank Miller, in which he briefly a. a. on Fredric Wertham (but without naming him) - and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , and explains the extent to which these have influenced his works.


As part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies , in which some well-known stories by various comic heroes are implemented as DTV cartoons, the filming of The Dark Knight Returns was also confirmed in May 2012 . The screenplay was written by Bob Goodman and directed by Jay Oliva . The comic was implemented in two 76-minute films. The first part was released on September 21, 2012. The second part followed on January 29, 2013. In a deluxe edition , both parts were released on Blu-ray Disc .


In 2001, a sequel was released under the title Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again - also DK2 for short - also by Frank Miller and colored by his wife Lynn Varley. This three-volume sequel takes place another five years after the events of The Dark Knight Returns (often briefly DK1 since then ). The German translation by Steve Kups was published by Panini Verlag.

Beginning in November 2015, DC Comics released another sequel in nine parts under the title Dark Knight III: The Master Race , which takes place three years after the events of DK2 . The last volume was published on June 7, 2017. The script is by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello, the drawings by Miller, Klaus Janson and Andy Kubert. Although initially announced as the last part of a trilogy , Frank Miller later stated that this was not the end, but that he would work on a final fourth series, which he would write again alone.

Future of the DC Universe

The Return of the Dark Knight (and its sequel) is considered a possible future for Batman not only in the graphic novel, but also in the rest of the DC Universe . In the DC multiverse , DK1 , DK2 and DK3 therefore play on Earth-31.

Aurora rampage

On July 20, 2012, there was a killing spree in the US city of Aurora (Colorado) during the premiere of the restarted Batman film The Dark Knight Rises . Shortly after the Aurora rampage , the media pointed out the similarity of the act to motifs in the comic The Dark Knight Returns published by Frank Miller in 1986 , because in the second part of the comic, the mentally unstable character Arnold Crimp enters a well-filled porn cinema and shoots him three visitors, what could have inspired the perpetrator James Eagan Holmes.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Classical Geek Theater: 'Batman' creator past his prime, needs to retire. DN online, October 2, 2002, accessed September 22, 2012 .
  2. Brendon Connelly: Movie Version Of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns In The Works., April 14, 2011, accessed September 22, 2012 .
  3. Holy Horseshit Batman: Miller Tarnishes Legacy with DK2 (Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again). July 13, 2009, accessed September 22, 2012 .
  4. Itzkoff, Dave : 'Dark Knight III: The Master Race' Comic Book Prompts Reflection and a Look Ahead . In: The New York Times . November 22, 2015.
  5. ^ Johnston, Rich Page From Dark Knight III: The Master Race Used As Official Art For NYCC. Bleeding Cool (September 17, 2015).
  6. Osborn, Alex: 'Frank Miller Says He's Returning For The Dark Knight 4' . In: IGN . 17th November 2015.
  7. Earth-31. DC-Wikia, accessed September 22, 2012 .
  8. Frank Miller , Klaus Janson , Lynn Varley: Batman - The Dark Knight Returns . tape 2 . Panini Comics, Nettetal-Kaldenkirchen 2002, ISBN 1-56389-342-8 , p. 33 (American English: The Dark Knight Returns .).
  9. Did Batman Comic Book Inspire Aurora Theater Shooting? (No longer available online.) CBS Corporation on July 20, 2012, archived from the original on September 23, 2012 ; accessed on September 22, 2012 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /