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I have officially finished reading “The Dark Knight Returns,” and at this point I think it is appropriate to post some of my thoughts about the story. But, since there is so much I would like to say about this graphic novel, I will be making more than one post.

To begin with, I would like to address the narrative of “The Dark Knight Returns,” which has often been its biggest point of controversy. Since its debut, it has come to be recognized as a one of the best English language graphic novels ever written by Time magazine, and has also entered into many other top ten lists; but with that said, it certainly still has its critics. In fact, one of the most steadily raised complaints against the graphic novel is its storyline, which has often been described as convoluted and difficult to follow. Overall, people seem have strong, and polar opposite opinions in regard to Frank Miller’s graphic novel—they either love it or they hate it; and for anyone who is curious, I belong to the former category.

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In my opinion, the best element of “The Dark Knight Returns” is Frank Miller’s unique and daring narrative style. It is not often that someone produces a coherent story told from a third person perspective, while simultaneously allowing the reader to venture into main characters’ thought processes, let alone such iconic ones as Batman, Robin, Superman, and the Joker. Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed Miller’s decision to focus on the unnamed inhabitance of Gotham city and give them a central place in the story, because while this is technically a story about Batman, it is also a story about the city of Gotham. This narrative choice is significant because it gives a more realistic portrayal of both Batman, and his place of residence, by highlighting the fact that Batman is only a single person, and can only do so much to combat the rampant crime in Gotham—at the end of the day, it is up to the citizens of Gotham to reclaim their city from the filth that has over taken it.

Throughout “The Dark Knight Returns,” I was required to devote my full attention in order to understand what was going on at both at the macro level of the narrative, and at the micro level of the characters. And although this may seem like a tedious task to some, for me it was a challenging, yet thoroughly rewarding experience. All too often, I am confronted with narratives that are not only so simple that I can figure out how the story will end from the very beginning, but they are formulaic and unoriginal, usually with a small element or two changed, so they can pass as “new.” Rarely these days do authors and directors construct a mainstream work that is complex and original[1]. However, Frank Miller did just that; he created a unique and intricate narrative that successfully re-imagined Batman as The Dark Knight.

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My next post will discuss the role that “The Dark Knight Returns” played in re-imagining and re-envisioning the character of Batman. And as always, I would like to hear other people’s reactions and thoughts on “The Dark Knight Returns,” so please feel free to share this post and to comment below.

[1] There are plenty of complex and original works out there, but very few of them reach mainstream audiences.  The reason for this is twofold: 1. many authors and directors do not want to risk their careers on a work that may not be well received because it is different 2. Many channels of distribution—publishing houses and media conglomerates—do not want to fund projects that aren’t guaranteed to make a profit.

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