Comic Book: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
, also known as Dark Knight 2
, was a three issue Batman
mini-series written and illustrated by Frank Miller
with Lynn Varley in 2001-2002, the sequel to 1986's The Dark Knight Returns
Set three years after the events of The Dark Knight Returns
, the world has managed to go downhill since then- the President is a fake, and the police state of a world is run by Lex Luthor
and Brainiac, who has many a hero enslaved.
Of course, Batman won't be having that, so he and his allies—Catgirl, the Green Arrow
, and his Batboys—set out to change the world by judicious application of violence
. But first, they need allies—and they need to deal with Superman
, who is still in the thrall of the government...
Overall it goes further off the deep end than The Dark Knight Returns
, almost to the point of being a Deconstruction of the Darker and Edgier
nature of the first story though, naturally, not everyone thinks that makes it any good. The color palette is much more varied than The Dark Knight Returns
' muted colorization, taking it to an almost garish degree, that takes a little getting used to (many reviewers termed it ugly).
This miniseries contains examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Dick Grayson of the Depraved Homosexual variety
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: At least one commentator regarded News in the Nude with incredulity, apparently being unaware of Naked News. At the very least though, the latter's a paid subscription service.
- Art Shift: When searching the ruins of Metropolis, Superman discovers a locket containing Golden Age pictures of him & Lois Lane.
- The art in general is also very different from the first book. The coloring is the most obvious change (from muted and dirty to garishly bright) but everybody has really exaggerated figures either in terms of proportions or angles. Lex in particular looks like a shaved gorilla.
- Author Tract: Apparently Miller doesn't like trends the media are taking.
- Badass Grandpa: The majority of the superheroes are really really old in this book. They can still kick the crap out of you and each other.
- Best Her to Bed Her: Wonder Woman.
- Beware the Superman: At the end of the series Superman rules the world with his daughter, Lara.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Lex Luthor and Brainiac.
- Invincible Hero: Batman. By the time anyone comes up with anything he's already twelve steps ahead of them. Superman heading for the Bat-Cave? No problem! Just use the the gigantic Kryptonite gloves over there! Got captured? No biggie! It was part of Batman's plan all along. It gets so bad that Batman can literally storm into Luthor's base of operations, beat him up, cut his face, and just leave with absolutely zero consequences. In the page image, he spells out why — he wanted to inspire terror in Luthor, to let him know that his empire was crumbling. And he wanted to give Hawkboy the honor of killing Luthor.
- Butt Monkey: Superman. It really gets to the point where you think Miller has something against the character.
- The Cameo/Shout-Out: Alfred E. Neuman appears as one of the talking heads in issue 2.
- Cat Girl: Carrie Kelly, the former Robin.
- Character Development : Of a sort. In All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder he was a gruesome individual. He treated everyone in the story like dirt, insisted that Dick eat a rat for dinner, threatens Alfred for feeding him a proper meal, slaps Dick for crying over the loss of his parents, and gleefully killed(dirty, some willing to murder kids) cops chasing him and was overall a deranged, loathsome maniac who ironically gained some humanity from Grayson.
The Dark Knight Returns could be interpreted as Bruce Wayne being older, wiser, and struggling to hold on to his humanity and/or sanity. By The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Bruce Wayne probably reverted back to his personality in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder. In short, what you have here is one seriously messed-up man who is not as rational and logical as he thinks he is.
- Coitus Ensues: Superman and Wonder Woman had several pages dedicated to them having sex for no reason other than to make Superman feel better.
- Comic-Book Time
- Crazy-Prepared: Naturally enough, Batman. To the point of having glowing green boxing gloves.
- Creepy Child: Saturn Girl.
- Decoy Leader
- Defiant to the End: Batman, when captured by Luthor.
- Depraved Homosexual: it's implied that Dick Grayson had the hots for Batman, but was rejected by him, which led to Dick becoming a villain. At the end of the comic Batman taunts him with all sorts of quasi-homophobic euphemisms relating to his supposed "sissiness". And since Dick is the villain, apparently Miller thinks we're supposed to side with Batman here.
- Destructo-Nookie: Superman and Wonder Woman have sex so over-the-top it alters the earth's weather patterns.
- Distracted by the Sexy: More or less the point of "News in the Nude".
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Hawkman and Hawkgirl, ingloriously nuked off-panel. Captain Marvel had a longer sequence where a giant building was dropped on him.
- Expy: A weird inversion, or something. This story's The Question is basically Rorschach from Watchmen, and Rorschach himself was a Captain Ersatz of the original Question, so this makes this version of the Question closer to the original Ditko Question and oh dear, my eyes have crossed.
- Flat "What.": "It's about to blow!◊"
- Gang of Hats: The Batboys.
- Gonk: There are some seriously ugly character designs here, especially Lex Luthor. This is mostly limited to the elderly males of the cast (which there are a ton of) but even the ostensibly pretty females have weirdly angular faces.
- Hamster Wheel Power: This is what the Flash has been up to lately.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: One of the cooler bits of the series is that Miller really woke people up to just how utterly, insanely ''powerful'' Plastic Man is. A lot of comics released after this seemed to run with Miller's description of Plas as a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass of epic proportions.
- Hypocrite: Catgirl berates one of the 'Batboys' in issue one about killing some soldiers and even beats him up for it. Yet in issue three she clams to have killed the Joker imposter "without an ounce of remorse" and "without a shred of regret" with an arrow through the head. True he couldn't die from that, but she didn't know that at the time.
- Kryptonite Ring: More than a ring - try Kryptonite napalm, Kryptonite power fists...
- Losing Your Head: Dick Grayson. He reattaches it.
- Monster Clown: For once, there was a reason to highlight this. It's not the Joker, it's Dick Grayson.
- Mythology Gag: Hot Gates, the porn star who dresses as Big Barda, is a shout out to the recurring theme of Thermopylae that appears in Frank Miller's work. She was also name dropped in The Dark Knight Returns, so it's also a Call Back.
- No One Could Survive That: Saturn Girl has a vision of Catgirl being murdered by the New Joker. Catgirl isn't too worried, as she shot the New Joker with several explosive arrows, and then went to work on him with a hatchet.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Happens to pretty much every character, good or bad. Batman is at his sorriest-looking state ever by the end, going well past "beaten up" and into "disfigured."
- Old Superhero: Pretty much the entire cast, with a few exceptions, such as Carrie Kelly, or the new Supergirl (daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, the fan-ship of many an Elseworlds writer).
- Physical God: Wonder Woman calls Superman this. Hal Jordan actually is this.
- President Evil: Actually a hologram controlled by Lex Luthor.
- Puny Humans: What Lara Kent believes.
- Retcon: Of sorts. The Dark Knight Returns treats the absence of superheroes (and Superman having "sold out") as a consequence of a Super Registration Act, with the unnamed president strongly implied to be Ronald Reagan, who's super-aged and losing his sanity. Here, it's revealed that the whole scenario is due to Lux Luthor and Braniac holding the world (and Kandor) hostage via orbiting cannons and a hologram of the president (whose name is stated to be "Rickard").
- Retraux: Superman looks more like his Golden Age version than the one used in DKR.
- Sacrificial Lion: The Guardian, the Creeper, and the Martian Manhunter all die in horrible ways to prove how dangerous this "New Joker" ( Dick Grayson) actually is.
- Sexposition: Part of the arc's Bad Futureness is "News in the Nude," the only news worth watching. Guess Frank Miller had never heard of Naked News.
- Signature Style
- Strawman Political: The Question is a radical Libertarian, Green Arrow is a radical Marxist. Miller didn't give us any clue which he agrees with, and which, if either, is meant to be correct.
- False Dichotomy. Both characters are shown to be ridiculously over the top in their antics. The Question refuses to use anything more technologically advanced than a typewriter (though that could be Properly Paranoid given the setting), and Green Arrow is a hypocritical billionaire Marxist hippie who presumably spent a fortune to get a cybernetic arm when the world is in the throes of a nuclear winter.
- Swallowed Whole: Carrie accidentally swallows Ray Palmer early on, leading to a Vomit Indiscretion Shot.
- Take That: Word of God says the book as Frank Miller's reaction to the Dark Age Dork Age he helped inspire.
- Technical Pacifist: Batman at this point is only one out of keeping his word. He clearly does not care about killing enemies anymore, letting subordinates use lethal force liberally, and actually shows a disturbing amount of glee over Hawkboy brutally murdering Luthor. Eventually, he opts to break his code altogether when he happily kills Dick Grayson himself.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Batman.