Book review

The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Frank Miller and Lynn Varley
DC Comics / Titan Books

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes AgainA-ha. The 'sequel' to the inimitable Batman: The Dark Knight Returns . . . and what a follow up it is too! A fantastic looking hardcover which also features original sketches dotted throughout, and a slick wraparound sleeve. When the publishers spend time and money on the cover you know you're in either in possession of a peach, or something they can't get rid of. Come on - this is Batman. It's a peach.

To the story: Three years since the events of The Dark Knight Returns, Batman returns to a world in which everything is rosy once more, or is it? Batman knows better, and the role of saviour once again falls on his shoulders. Intriguingly, the cover synopsis runs: "Features appearances by such DC icons as Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, the Atom, the Question and more. But are they still the world's greatest heroes or part of the conspiracy?"
Well, if that doesn't get you in the mood for getting the hell on with it, what will? Frank Miller knows this game inside out. Only Miller could resurrect Martian Manhunter and the Atom - two of the most redundant, boring and useless characters in comic history - and give them top slots in a Batman book that everyone is going to read. Not only that, but they look fresh and exciting too. Couple that with the welcome - if all too brief - return of the Question (the greatest and most underrated DC Comics character), and you've got yourself an interesting battle ground.

Putting the two collections side by side, you can also see just how far Miller has moved on. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again is a better book than the original, but will probably never be hailed as such. The story is clearer, the artwork is as smooth as you can get and the characterisation never falters for a moment.
    Talking of things standing out; spare a thought for Lynn Varley, who's colouring on this project is beautiful, and also Chip Kidd who put the thing together in a style it so deserves. Absolutely fucking flawless. Put that on the cover of the reprint.

:: Sion Smith

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