Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller was given to me by a good friend, and it couldn't have been more perfect for me. I've been a Batman fan above all other superheroes except for the X-Men (and more specifically that hunky Wolverine... and I'm not talking about Hugh Jackman, I'm talking that cartoon Wolverine with the yellow suit back when I was a kid - hubba hubba). There's something about Batman that is dark, mysterious and compelling. It's always been understood that he didn't have any real super power, though in this particular book there's something going on with a huge bat that might have been giving him some sort of power or strength. The most compelling thing about Batman though is that he's just a regular dude, sure a ridiculously rich dude that was traumatized as a child by the death of his parents, but still, just a dude. No x-ray vision or webs coming from his wrists and yet he chooses to dress up as a bat and fight crime. He's not special except for that single choice and that's what makes him so special and intriguing. I mean a lot of people have been traumatized, a lot of people are rich. What makes him make that decision to don the Batman outfit and fight crime? His strong moral conviction and his harvested pain make him a hero that you can almost relate to, because after all, he is just a normal dude.
The ink is very detailed and well done in this book and the story is dark and interesting. It took me a little bit to get into it, but once I was into it I was really into it. We are presented with a retired Batman, coming out of retirement. He's older and more prone to back pains and exhaustion. It's a time when the vigilant superheroes are supposed to be extinct or at least kept secret and not seen in public and so he causes quite the stir resurfacing. There are wounds in his past he has to heal and loose ends he must tie. It is a different Batman book, no evil villain dominates these pages with his diabolical plans, really the villains are hardly the center of this book. Instead, the book centers around the debate of the vigil anti. Do they or don't they have the right to fight crime and protect their city? There are many sides to the argument and the book runs through them all. It's up to you to decide what you think. Is Batman right or wrong in what he does? Is he a hero or a villain?
Oh yeah, and there's a pretty sweet ass fight scene between two well known superheroes near the end of the book that is just pretty cool if I do say so myself.
Now I'm onto Watchmen by that crazy genius Alan Moore. So far, it seems to have similar tones of the controversy over vigil antis and is Extremely well written.