Thursday, October 29, 2015

Countdown to The Dark Knight: The Master Race: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 Review *SPOILERS*

Its not a Mud Hole.

Written By: Frank Miller
Art By: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley
Price: $2.99
Release Date: April 1986

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

The last time we left our aged Dark Knight, he returned to Gotham after ten years, in the midst of one of it's biggest crime waves. Not only did he return though, but also Two Face. The pair ended up fighting in the skies above Gotham in spectacular fashion, which leads to the city learning that Batman has returned...but with it monsters of the past begin to arise.
The first issue was a great start to the series. Granted it was an info dump that introduces the reader to the dark world that Batman is returning to, but it still had amazing action, dark imagery, and a helluva lot of violence. It definitely set the standard.
This issue has the old man Bat going against the main reason he returned; The Mutant gang! So how does that go down? Lets dive in and find out...
We open to Commissioner Gordon being cornered by a mutant(an underage mutant no less) at the store, which results with him fighting back and killing him. This shakes Batman's cage enough for him to step into action. Batman begins a rampage trying to find any mutants to try and learn where this Mutant Leader could be hiding. This leads to a cool sequence where Batman is dangling a mutant high above the city, while he's monologuing about how much more difficult it was this time. This is great because it reminds us that YES he is older. He isn't the ninja we usually know him to be!

However this also leads to one of the things I disliked about the series: The political overtones. Batman learns during his hunt for the location of the Mutant Leader that a high ranking general has been selling weapons to the mutants, and kills himself before Batman can bring him in. It might be a bit nit-picky, but I'm just not a fan for overtones of corruption on a higher scale in my comics. I want to read about Batman, not about how this general going behind the back of his nation, or the president trying to "keep his interests in check". It was probably well received at the time, but I'm not a fan of it now.

Meanwhile across town, we see a young girl putting on a Robin outfit; That's right boys and girls! It's Carrie Kelly! We then get a small montage of her training, stopping crooks and then finally hear a bunch of Mutants talking about their leader. She finds this the perfect opportunity to hop on the back of their car and go fight him...yeah that would turn out really well.

We then finally meet the Mutant Leader. I look back on him and...his art is weird. Well not weird, more inconsistent. One second he has spikes on his mouth, head, and wrists, the next they're gone. His mouth turns into a circular leech like mouth out of nowhere, only to turn back into a regular  mouth full of sharp shark like teeth(which when opened reminds me of Dark Knight Rises Bane). All the other mutants look a like, so I don't get the similarity between them and the Leader with the exception of the glasses, especially with the missing spikes. It just didn't make sense art wise.

That being said it is soon redeemed with the appearance of my favorite versions of the Batmobile, which just wrecks EVERYTHING. It looks amazing and unique and GOD I WISH IT WAS PLAYABLE IN ARKHAM KNIGHT!! But of course we can't have just a battle with the Mutant Leader and a we need a full out fist fight...which leads to Batman getting the crap kicked out of him. Thankfully Batman is able to knock him out long enough for him to be brought in to be sentenced. Carrie gets Batman out of there and as a reward, Batman recruits Carrie as the new official Robin.

While Batman and Robin begin to plan how to break up the Mutants, Commissioner Gordon and the Mayor try a diplomatic approach...which goes as well as you expect from a large bald psychopath who has shark like teeth. This scene helps show what makes the Mutant Leader fascinating. Like Joker, he seems to be doing all of the crime for the sake of chaos, yet unlike Joker doesn't go for flair. Where Joker would probably have a jack in the box pop out and slash the mayors throat, Mutant Leader just snaps the handcuffs and rips out the Mayors throat. It proved that behind the gimmicks, the Gotham villains are still psychotic and extremely dangerous.

Batman convinces Gordon to help him one last time, which means releasing the Mutant Leader...yeah, no bad idea either way Batman! Mutant Leader crawls into the sewers only to be confronted by Batman who throws him into a mud pit. This leads to a battle where we see a younger Bruce underneath the gruff. Instead of just throwing the brutality in each punch like he has done so far in the series, he plans out his moves, thinking of where to jab and when. The fight ends with an epic line that I use whenever I gain the upper hand when playing video games. Below is the animated version of said line...bask in its glory.

That's pretty much where the story ends for this chapter. The remaining mutants become vigilantes calling themselves "Sons of Batman", Carrie is now helping Bruce full time, and Commissioner Gordon turns in his badge and gun to retire... Next week we get another homecoming...and it has a Joke so great it'll kill ya.

Bits and Pieces:
I'm going to be frank(miller HA!) here...This is my least favorite of the Dark Knight issues...and yet it is still amazing! The story is still strong, with the exception of the political overtones in play. The Mutant Leader is a very bizarre creature to look at, but the character is someone I kinda hope comes into play in a current Batman Storyline(Imagine a super strong Mutant Leader fighting Jim Gordon Batman!). Overall despite the flaws, I recommend reading it yourself and see what your missing!

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  1. I think the bit about the general's suicide was some of that patented "subtle" Frank Miller commentary, specifically about the Iran-Contra affair and what he felt Oliver North should have done. I remember the talk of this issue being the new Batmobile, though! Nolan and the Rocksteady games can thank Miller directly.

    1. cuz draping the general's body in an american flag is very very subtle, though I will admit the art there and when batman gets out of the tank looks amazing

  2. "This isn't a mud hole, it's an ER and I'm the anaesthetist." That was the line wasn't it?! Great article jody! :) I haven't read this in a while so I might dig it out again. The animated adaption is fantastic tho, and the musical score is amazing.

    1. Next to Gods and Monsters its my favorite of the DC Animated movies :)
      come back the next few weeks, im going through them all before DK3


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