View from the Gutters Episode 63 — Batman: The Dark Knight Returns


On this giant-sized episode of View from the Gutters our topic work is Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, written and penciled by Frank Miller, with inks by Klaus Janson and colors by Lynn Varley. The Dark Knight Returns is one of the seminal Batman works, and along with Year One (released the following year, also written by Miller) not only helped redefine Batman in the post-Silver Age period but also inspired a generation of comic creators. It is credited as one of the books that ended the Silver Age itself, along with Watchmen and Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In The Dark Knight Returns we find a 55-year old Bruce Wayne, retired from his Batman persona, struggling to find meaning in his life without the crusade. Shortly after the book begins Wayne puts on the Batman again for the first time in years, once again trying to save a Gotham City on the brink of anarchy, but this time struggling not just against criminality gone rampant, not just against the police, but against his own mortality.

The Dark Knight Returns is a dark and violent book, which demonstrates Miller’s brilliance as a writer and artist, as well as many of his worst flaws—not least of which is the pervasive undertone of misogyny which permeates so much of Miller’s work. This is a very conflicted piece of work, but it’s also critical to understanding the evolution both of Batman as a character and superheroes as a genre.

In our recommendation section, our hosts nominated Heck; Red Wing; The Hedge Knight, Vol. 1 & 2; and The Superior Spider-Man #1-31, for discussion on the next episode, and our selected title is The Superior Spider-Man #1-31.

Our hosts for this episode were Andrew Chard, Joe Preti, Tobiah Panshin, and Cade Reynolds.

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