Warner Bros.’ announcement of a “Batman vs. Superman” sequel to Man of Steel at Comic-Con International triggered a 161 percent surge in digital sales of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in July, setting a record for a full-priced DC Entertainment digital title, Variety reports.
The publisher previously mentioned “a huge jump in month-over-month [digital] sales” of Frank Miller’s pioneering 1986 work, but didn’t offer more than that. Like most publishers, DC doesn’t reveal actual sales figures for either print or digital.
The influential four-issue miniseries brings an aging Batman out of retirement a decade after the death of Jason Todd to save Gotham from sinking deeper into decay and lawlessness. With the help of a new, female Robin, Carrie Kelly, the Dark Knight ends the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city and confronts two of his greatest enemies. But then he must face his former ally Superman in a battle that only one will survive.
Although Man of Steel director Zack Snyder was quick to caution at Comic-Con that the sequel wouldn’t be an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, actor Harry Lennix read dialogue from the book — “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat” — and Miller was reportedly set to meet with the filmmaker.
Perhaps the most disturbing scene in Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (also known as DK2; Miller and Varley 2001-2002) is where Batman attacks the corporate leaders of the United States government, giving the word “terrorism” a new meaning. The Anarcho-terrorist superhero’s assault is directed against “the real monsters” (page 53, panel 1), the corrupt powers-that-be that rule behind a virtual president….In “late capitalism”, the virtual transactions of financial speculators determine the entire economy of countries, the “democratic” political system of their governments and, of course, the real life of their citizens. We should ask ourselves if the world we inhabit now is so different from the virtual United States ruled by the computer-generated president Miller imagined.
—The Comics Grid’s Pepo Pérez wonders if Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again was prophetic (in a way Miller himself probably wouldn’t approve of today). Personally, I think it’s a stretch to compare the real America to Batman’s America. I mean, one has a glossy, shiny surface built on human suffering, as citizens participate in a sham democracy treated like a sporting event by blathering talking-head news-media figures, while corporations engaged in criminal conspiracies for which they suffer no lasting legal consequences loot the world with impunity behind the scenes. The other has Batman in it.
It started with a dare. Here at Robot 6 a week ago, I posted about how comics legend Frank Miller has been posting comments at the blog of neoconservative pundit Victor Davis Hanson. This inspired a comment by James B. Elkins II that casted skepticism on my bonafides as a Miller fan. Since Miller is in fact my all-time favorite comics creator, I responded by daring any and all comers to challenge me to defend what is, to many readers, Miller’s most indefensible work: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Miller and colorist Lynn Varley’s sequel to their seminal revisionist-superhero classic The Dark Knight Returns. I’ve always loved that book, but I’d never written about it at length. Well, David Brothers of The 4th Letter went ahead and took the dare and laid the challenge at my feet.
The result? I wrote a review of The Dark Knight Strikes Again for The Savage Critic(s), another one of my blog-homes away from blog-home. The piece, part of series of posts I’m doing on my all-time favorite comics, places Miller & Varley’s much-maligned, much-misunderstood comic in the context of similarly bright and brash works by cartoonist Ben Jones, comedians Tim and Eric, the “glo-fi” subgenre of indie rock, and more. Do check it out–then swing by The 4th Letter for David Brothers’s own two-part review of the book, which tackles it from a very different yet equally positive angle.