World Comic Book Review

29th February 2024

The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade (REVIEW)

The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade
DC Comics, June 15, 2016
Writers: Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller

In February of 2016, American publisher DC Comics published “Dark Knight Returns III: The Master Race”, which is the third part of Frank Miller’s iconic The Dark Knight Returns franchise. This series of titles portray a future version of the character Batman, in his twilight, weakened by old age, aware of his own mortality, yet unable to turn a blind eye as his world descends into chaos.

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Batman: a Study of Homages

An homage is defined as a special honour or act of respect delivered publicly. In the genre of super hero comic books, the character which is most frequently referenced by other publishers is Batman, a character property owned by DC Comics.

Mainstream superhero comics books since around the turn of the century have seemed like the ourobouros, the snake of mythology which consumes its own tail. Sometimes this has been dubbed “post-modern”, a reference to the school of fine art that questions the form through its limitations. A detached reader with an historical overview of trends in the genre might believe that the industry has instead been engaging for the past decade in a very contemporary concept, ecological recycling: no concept of value is allowed to go to landfill, and instead is put to a new use.

Part of the allure of reinvesting in a well-established concept must be the belief that the concept taps into the zeitgeist, and will have instant appeal to a pre-primed readership. Sometimes it allows a writer to creatively indulge in a character property which is owned by someone else, and to which the writer has no permission to use. Sometimes it is sheer laziness, and sometimes it is parody. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

This essay is a survey of those homages.

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