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Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns' is the best Batman comic of all time. If you think we're wrong, you're nothing but a Joker.

Is ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ the greatest Batman comic?

Frank Miller’s 1986 issue of The Dark Knight Returns is considered by many to be one of the greatest if not the greatest comic book of all time. The Dark Knight Returns, which had significant implications on not only the Batman character but on all comic books, deepened traditional comic book storytelling beyond the sheer brilliance of imagery, deepening characters and increasing stakes from comic books that point on.

The Dark Knight Returns is truly the quintessential comic book that can lure any avid reader into the comic book world, as Frank Miller’s work provides relatable characters, consequential tragedies, and a world so dark you’ll be happy that you live in the one you do today. Care to learn more about this timeless Batman comic & story? Delve into the details with us! 

The Dark Knight Returns

Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns tells the story of Bruce Wayne, who’s struggling to find peace in his elder years having given up the mantle of Batman nearly ten years prior after the Joker killed his beloved partner, Jason Todd. Riddled with guilt, Batman can’t seem to find a reason to return to the cave and put on the cape and cowl, that is until of course the rise of the mutants, a Gotham gang set on destroying the city.

In this dystopian version of Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon has long since been retired, Two-Face has undergone significant plastic surgery, and Batman has seemingly found a new partner in Grace Kelly, a female companion. Batman is able to track down and defeat the mutant King and turn the mutants into followers of his own, a historic moment for Gotham City that has attracted the likes of everyone, including the Joker.

The second half of The Dark Knight Returns tells the story of Joker’s escape, a moment which noticeably inspired the talk show scene in 2019’s Joker. However, perhaps more importantly, The Dark Knight Returns features government interference on the vigilante, as they send in the one man who they believe can take him down to defeat for good . . . Superman. Who is the hero amongst heroes? You’ll have to see for yourself. 


While many DC properties have taken inspiration from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, including multiple live-action Batman films, the CW’s live-action properties, as well as multiple video games, perhaps no adaptations were more faithful than the 2012 and 2013 animated films The Dark Knight Returns part 1 and part 2, which served as a faithful adaptation to the original Frank Miller story, right down to the images. 

While it didn’t serve as a true live-action adaptation, 2016’s Batman v. Superman, which of course was directed by Zack Snyder and starred Ben Affleck as Batman as well as Henry Cavill as Superman was the closest thing we’ve gotten to a live-action The Dark Knight Returns. Of course, we’re referring to the heavily inspired feud between Batman and Superman, two heroes on different sides of the moral line. 

Equally, we’ll be curious to see how 2022 The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson, pays respect to the greatest Batman comic book of all time. While Pattinson is playing a young Batman, specifically in year two of his crime-fighting years, we’ll no doubt get notes of Frank Miller’s original Gotham City flare, as you simply cannot make a Batman project without acknowledging The Dark Knight Returns

What is your favorite adaption of The Dark Knight Returns? Have you read Frank Miller’s Batman comic? How about your favorite Batman movie or TV series? Comment down below, and be sure to let us know! 

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