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Comic Book / The Dark Knight Strikes Again

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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 Batman: 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). It was eventually followed starting in 2015 by Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

This miniseries contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Ugliness: Nobody is particularly good-looking in this comic, but Lex Luthor takes the cake: while rather presentable-looking in the main comics continuity, Luthor here is drawn as a morbidly obese hunchback with a pointy, crooked nose.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Dick Grayson of the Depraved Homosexual variety.
  • Artificial Limbs: This is how Green Arrow, who in TDKR had lost one of his arms, once again has a pair of them.
  • 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.
  • 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, with New Joker as The Dragon.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Hawkman and Hawkwoman's children.
  • Butt-Monkey: Superman. It really gets to the point where you think Miller has something against the character.
  • The Cameo:
  • Cat Girl: Carrie Kelly, the former Robin.
  • Character Development:
    • Of a sort. In All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, Batman was a gruesome individual. He treated everyone in the story like dirt, insisted that Dick eat a rat for dinner, threatened Alfred for feeding him a proper meal, slapped 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. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns could be interpreted as Bruce Wayne being older, wiser, and struggling to hold on to his humanity and/or sanity. In this series, Batman has reverted into the same belligerent maniac he was 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.
  • Decoy Leader: The President was a decoy for Luthor.
  • 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 no, we've gone crosseyed.
  • Flat "What": "It's about to blow!"
  • Gonk: There are some seriously ugly character designs here, especially Lex Luthor, an iconic Diabolical Mastermind, Übermensch and Man of Wealth and Taste who for some reason is depicted as a cigar-chomping, hulking neanderthal with huge hands and a hunchback, to the point that it looks as though his hands are physically weighing him down, forcing him to walk with a hunch and thereby making him a literal knuckle-dragger, causing one to wonder if he is actually meant to be physically deformed. The Gonkishness 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.
    • The beating itself at least is justified by the fact that the Batboy himself reverted to his more psychopathic attitude and threatened to break her bones first. Now the whole killing but not killing on the other hand...
  • Intimate Healing: Superman is completely healed of his injuries after having sex with Wonder Woman. According to Miller himself, this was done to highlight the fact that women are "nurturers and life givers".
  • Intimate Marks: One issue features a woman with the House of El sigil stamped on her ass.
  • 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 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.
  • Kill It with Fire: Dick Grayson has become a Nigh-Invulnerable Monster Clown super-assassin that can survive all attacks, but is finally destroyed once and for all when he falls into the Lava Pit that formed in the destruction of the batcave.
  • 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 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, so it's also a Call-Back.
    • The President has the last name Rickard, as in Prez.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Superman can now absorb energy from the Earth to heal himself and replenish his powers. It was always the Power of the Sun before.
  • No Name Given: We never learn the names of Hawkman and Hawkwoman's children. Only that their son is called Hawkboy.
  • 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).
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: A throwaway line during Hal Jordan's journey back to Earth about the wormhole being where he still left it implies he can create or move them.
  • Physical God: Wonder Woman calls Superman this.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: It's implied that Carrie doesn't actually know what the Zorro Mark is, just that it means something to Batman.
  • Power Dynamics Kink: Implied if not outright stated to be the case of Superman and Wonder Woman's relationship. Her response to Superman feeling down about Batman beating him (again) is to punch him in the face and say, "Where is the man who threw me to the ground and made me his prize?".
  • President Evil: Actually a hologram controlled by Lex Luthor.
  • 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. This is also a 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!:
  • 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.
  • Together in Death: Hawkman and Hawkwoman were killed in a military strike ordered by Lex Luthor, embracing each other in their final moments.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Batman's behavior in this series seems to presage his depiction in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, which came out three years after this mini-series. He regularly demeans both the villains and his allies, doesn't bat an eye at his fellow heroes killing villains, and shows no hesitation about killing his former protege Dick Grayson.
  • Villain Decay: Brainiac and Lex Luthor aren't nearly as smart in TDKSA as they are in other stories. In fact, some of the decisions they make are downright moronic.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Green Arrow and The Question, in that one wants Marxist Socialism, and the other Randian Objectivism.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Mary Marvel? It was never revealed if she was rescued or not.
  • Wife Husbandry: Dick Grayson implies that this is what Batman is doing with Carrie, though invokedWord of Miller denies this vehemently. Also, Dick Grayson was batshit insane at that point, and had just spent a good amount of time mutilating Carrie out of psychotic jealousy. He is an unreliable source, to say the least.
  • Willfully Weak: This is apparently Batman's (and Miller's) main problem with Superman, as he stops being treated as a Butt-Monkey once he starts taking the attitude to match his power as a Physical God.
  • Winged Humanoid: Hawkman and Hawkwoman gave their children wings while living in Costa Rica.
  • You Killed My Father: Luthor killed Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Their children, Hawkboy and his sister, want revenge.
  • Zeerust Canon: Published 15 years later, but only takes place two years later.
  • Zorro Mark: Batman carves one onto Lex Luthor's face.
    Catgirl: "The Boss leaves his mark. [we see Batman use a batarang to make the three quick slices] It must mean something to him... "