Written By: Frank Miller
Art By: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley
Release Date: June 1986
Well this is it boys and girls. The issue everyone knows the series for. The final issue to the critically acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns series. The thing that the movie in 2016 is going to be based on.
This is a great opener due to the fact that it builds on the tension that was left off in the last issue and is full of great action. You honestly feel there is no way Batman can get out of this and it literally is the first few pages of the issue.
While Bruce is getting patched up by Alfred in Gotham, we see how Superman is doing during the Corto Maltese incident. THIS TIME THE POLITICAL SATIRE PLAYS INTO THE PLOT! I KNOW SHOCKING! Superman's efforts on the island caused the soviets to pull out...and to launch a nuke. This looks like a ob for Superman! He flies up and with all his might is able to move the nuke to the place that would cause the least destruction. However when the nuke goes off, Superman is right in the center and it sends out an EMP pulse to knock out all the power in America. This leads to one of the strangest re-imaginings of Superman's powers I've ever read. With the Nuke's fallout blocking out the sunlight, Superman is left like a zombie and falls into a jungle when he tries to fly back to America...With no energy he sucks the solar radiation from the jungle....its strange, but the art made the entire scenario so much more interesting. I doubt most would want that to be a Superman staple now but it's an interesting concept nonetheless.
Back over in Gotham, the EMP goes off and shuts down everything. Planes fall from the skies, riots erupt in the streets, the Bat-Vehicles are offline! Retired old Jim Gordon is caught in the center of it all! The Police are useless! WHO WILL SAVE THE DAY?!...it's Batman.
Batman gathers both the Sons of Batman and the jailed mutants and tells them that HE will give them a higher purpose for tonight THEY ARE THE LAW! Its bits like this when the art actually shines and makes the story that much better. Look at the image next to this paragraph. Batman riding a horse leading teens to keeping order in Gotham. It looks so epic and iconic and I loved every moment of it.
Time passes and things power begins to return to the US. Most of the country has gone down the crapper with riots appearing all over, with the exception of Gotham. Not to be outdone, the President orders Superman, only at about a quarter of his full strength to bring Batman in. Supes asks where, and Batman says Crime Alley, and the pair prepare for the fight.
I would like to take a small pause of the review to bring up my thoughts on who will win in a fight: Batman or Superman. Most people calculate is either their power(or as my little brother puts it, "Both completely naked in the backyard without any help, Superman") or skill("Give him time and Batman can beat Superman") For me, the deciding factor is actually on their personalities, not their power set. What I mean by that is fact most people see this fight as a kryptonian vs. a human. But it's more than that. Superman at his core is a true blue hero. Despite being labeled a soldier, he does not hurt people and avoids any real physical confrontation. When he arrives for the battle, he tries to get Bruce to stand down. Even when he's fighting Bruce notes that he is holding back. If this was any other kryptonian(YES EVEN SUPERGIRL) I would tell you that the kryptonian would KILL the human, but that's not Superman's way.
Batman on the other hand plays by an entirely different set of rules. He has worked alongside people that are the equivalent of the gods themselves. He felt that one day he would need to take them down just in case they become to powerful(ie what happened in Injustice). What Batman is at his core is a survivor. That is the reason why he bought all that kryptonite, despite being friends to the big blue boy scout. That is why he invested so much in the bat-tank, missles, and even the epic suit of armor. The fact is that he wants to survive most conflicts and would do anything to do it. People want a fair fight? If they were trapped on an island with a tiger, and they weren't allowed a spear or any weapon, that would be a fair fight; there is no outside advantage. Also bear in mind that THESE ARE COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS! Sometimes they will win sometimes they will lose. Where Batman has beaten down Superman in plenty of books there has been a vice versa for Superman winning as well. So to see hundreds of comments and arguments on the matter is just silly!
The fight itself was impressive to show the ways Batman can slow Superman down, especially with the use of allies who think similar to him, but in comparison to all the other epic moments in the book, it just didn't do wonders for me.
Besides we know who REALLY won that fight in Crime Alley...
By the end of the fight Oliver Queen fires a kryptonite arrow, allowing Batman to beat Superman down just in time to die...meanwhile across town Alfred blows up Wayne Manor and the Batcave...with the Bat dead, all the secrets die with him...or does it?! We end the series with Batman giving instructions to his new army to become the next group of vigilantes to bring order to a world in chaos...It will be a good life. Good enough.