Batman: The Dark Knight returns in a comic that I have been planning to review for a long time now. Tonight I finally have taken the time to do it!
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is written and drawn by Frank Miller with inks by Klaus Janson and colors by Lynn Varney. It was published by DC Comics in 1986 in their new prestige format (squarebound, stock packer and cardboard covers).
Frank Miller has always been pushing the comics medium to be a viable place were creators can tell mature stories about the super heroes they grew up on. In the podcast, I mention that Frank Miller’s inspiration of this comic was to get Batman back to his 1930 roots were he was ruthless and terrifying to criminals.
Did fans want this new darker version of Batman? HELL YEAH! This comic sold millions of copies and it is continued to be reprinted in trade even today! Frank Miller’s Dark Knight art and story was so inspirational, people are still paying it homage over 30 years later.
In my podcast, I touch on parts of the story but I really get into the history on why Frank Miller wanted to tell this future tale of Batman in his 50s, How real world politics influenced his story telling and how this comic inspired film makers with their interpretations of the The Dark Knight Detective. All this and much more in the CM Podcast!
We have been watching the CW show: Star Girl – which is set on Earth-2 and references the heroes and villains of the Golden Age of DC. The show does a good job of using the Golden Age villains and heroes without being too hokey or corny.
While watching the show, I was reminded on how I got to know the Golden Age characters as a comic reader. It was back in the early 90s, DC has a JSA comic series and I was enjoying it. Getting to become familiar with the Golden Age version of Green Lantern and Flash while learning about new characters like Hour Man, Wild Cat, Starman and others. Remember, we had no internet back then so I only had back issue and new comics to give me backstory.
In 1993, a relatively unknown writer, James Robinson pitched an Elseworlds story (The What If? equivalent for DC) about most of the JSA heroes called The Golden Age. It would feature art by the awesome Paul Smith and had colors by Richard Ory. DC would publish it as a 4 part prestige series between 1993 – 1994.
The Golden Age is an awesome mystery story that helped me learn a lot about the Golden Age Heroes. Did you know there was a Robot Man before Cliff Steele? Did you know there were multiple speedsters in the Golden Age like Jay Garrick, Johnny Chambers and Libby Lawrence? Did you know the Golden Age Atom was called that because he was small not because he became small? All this and more will be revealed to you.
This series does a great job at making these Golden Age characters feel believable while introducing them the the problem and politics of the real world in 1940 – 1955. It takes on issues like World War II, Communism and McCarthyism (Not McCartneyism – that has to do with Rock n Roll and screaming teenage girls).
Jon and I talk about the history on how this book was made and then go over plot points and characters. We don’t spoil the final act of the book but we do go over most of the story.
We highly recommend reading this story. It has some ties to the Star Girl series and will bring you up to speed on most of the Golden Age heroes.
Back in 2018, we reviewed the 2003 Elseworlds story, Superman: Red Sun which you can listen to here. Jon and I both really like the comic (except for the ending).
2 years later, we are reviewing the newly releases Warner Bros. Animated movie – Superman: Red Son. Which is written by long time comics scribe, J. M. DeMatteis. I looked at his IMDB page (which you can see here) and he has written quite a few TV episodes, including one of our favorite Justice League Unlimited episodes “For the Man Who Has Everything“.
J. M. DeMatteis does an excellent job at creating a teleplay based on the original comic material that retains all the great elements while streamlining the story so that people not familiar with comic can still enjoy it too.
Here is a clip of the movie to give you an example of the quality of animation:
The story and the animation are top notch. Jon and I go over the movie and talk about the differences between the comic and movie and if we like the changes.
Spoilers are ahead so we recommend watching the movie first and then coming back to listen to the podcast. Go watch the movie – it’s not like you got anyplace to go. We are all stuck inside at this point.
The 4 main superhero shows on the CW (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow) have been doing crossover events for the last 4 years. We have covered the last 2 crossover events on our podcast for Invasion! and Crisis on Earth X.
For 2018, they are doing a crossover event for Elseworlds but it includes Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. Legends of Tomorrow was not involved this time around.
In the podcast this week, we go over the concept of Elseworlds and were it came from in DC comics continuity. We talk about a couple of the very first comics to actually have the Elseworlds imprint: Batman – Gotham by Gastlight and Batman – Holy Terror.
After we talk about DC’s history with Elseworlds, we then talk about the crossover event and how they used this concept of alt-reality on Barry Allen and Oliver Queen.
Jon and I then go into a discussion on the show’s overall storyline and what we took away after the event ended.
If you watched the event but don’t know much about the comics, we give you some good suggestions on what comics to pick up.
We will be going back to 2003, George W. Bush was in office, the US was administering shock and awe to Iraq and we have the official formation of the Department of Homeland Security.
There was a lot going on in the world, so it seemed like the perfect time for writer Mark Millar to pitch the Elseworlds tale “What if Superman grew up in 1950s Communist Russian?” Luckily for all of us, the DC editors gave him the green light.
This leads to a 3 issue Elseworlds tale entitled Superman: Red Sun. Written by Mark Millar with art by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett.
These are the 2 Tradepaper back covers of the collected story. Both are done by Dave Johnson so you get an idea of how great it looks.
Jon has never read this story so he found it very shocking. I read it when it originally came out and recently reread it when I bought the TPB.
Jon and I had a great time going over the book and there are spoilers but we save them for the very end of the podcast and do warn you to stop listening if you are going to read it.
Time is a funny thing. It seems like yesterday I was picking up the first issue of Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come and I was amazed at the painted artwork and great story.
Well, it was actually 20 years ago this year that I read that first issue. The story and it’s message is still relevant now as it was back then.
Jon has never read Kingdom Come and I recently acquired the collected trade paper back and lent it to him. I told him that he is really going to enjoy it and that we should do a podcast on this landmark series. Jon took the book and when I saw him a few days later, he was very impressed and was really keen on turning this into a podcast.
I am a fan of the book. Jon became a fan of it and we hope you listen to this podcast and give it a try. I am glad that DC gave permission to Mark and Alex to tell this different and dark tale of morality and forgiveness.