Review: The Dark Knight Returns


I didn’t enjoy TDKR. I guess that statement makes this the first contrarian review for Issue 47.

I’m not saying TDKR is bad. It just wasn’t as enjoyable as other comic books I’ve read so far. And I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are new to comic books in general (like me). So mostly, I’m saying I didn’t find TDKR universally awesome.

Overtly Political Tone

I have a low tolerance for politics in any form of fiction, not just comics. Maybe this is because I live in a town that thrives on openly heated political debate. A story that includes those elements doesn’t provide me much of a release from the day’s tension.

Regardless of the cause for my low tolerance, I have a much higher tolerance when the political statement in the story is issue driven. To me those stories contain more insightful messages (regardless of whether I share their viewpoint or not), and doesn’t detract from the entertainment of the story.

I lose patience and interest when authors inject real politicians into purely fictional stories. I find the motivations of those characters become distorted by the author’s enthusiasm for his or her political views.

The inclusion of Ronald Reagan into TDKR basically set it up (in my mind) as a battle between Batman and Ronald Reagan… albeit by a proxy.

The political statement becomes “Ronald Reagan is (or was) a bad guy”. And to me that message isn’t insightful or entertaining. It isn’t a constructive contribution to the political discourse. It reads as a work of bitterness.

I Don’t Understand

Some might quickly point out that I don’t have any appreciation for how TDKR changed things. I would just as quickly agree with them. Reading comic books is a new thing for me.

Is TDKR an Elseworlds story?

I read somewhere that TDKR was an “Elseworlds tale”. I had no idea what that meant. After researching Elseworlds, it seems to me that this wasn’t an imaginary adventure, like Gotham by Gaslight. If it had been an Elseworlds adventure, I would probably still feel the same way.

If TDKR were a Pink Floyd album…

TDKR is not the Batman equivilent to Darkside of the Moon,which is unfortunately what I expected based on all the rave reviews. TDKR is Meddle. A fantastic album for that will be loved by enthusiasts for a very long time.

Plot holes, incomplete character development and more

The handful of reviewers who don’t love TDKR point to these elements. For the most part I agree. But this post is long enough.

Will I read it to my Children?

No. I don’t want to explain the Cold War between the US and the USSR to my 6 and 3 year olds. I don’t want to explain who Ronald Reagan was, what his policies were, or what the policies of his contemporaries were. I want them to enjoy a comic book.


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