Review – ‘The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade’

The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade is finally out on the shelves! Co-written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello and penciled by John Romita Jr, it follows the death of Jason Todd. Todd was the second Robin, and the reason for the Dark Knight’s retirement in the original Dark Knight Returns.

Many comic book fans, Batman fans especially, have a soft spot for The Dark Knight Returns. The story, written and penciled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson and colored by Lynn Varney, brought the comic book medium into a respected field of literature. This is on top of returning Batman back to his dark and Gothic roots.

One of the elements making this work so profound is the specter of Jason Todd’s death. Despite occurring before TDKR, this event haunted both Batman and Alfred constantly. In an unpublished page of the story, Batman thinks of his fallen friend while recovering from his fight with the Joker.

What I like about the story is the portrayal of Batman. We’re all used to seeing him as a man who is in perpetual youth. So seeing him dealing with the inevitable of age is profound. He’s constantly trying to come to grips, even when his methods are not healthy.

Of course, how he’s dealt with his parent’s murder would not be considered healthy either. But that’s just my opinion.

There is a hint of tragedy between Bruce and Selina Kyle in their relationship as she tries to convince him to hang up the cape. Knowing what becomes of them only adds to impending doom of their romance.

It is also nice to see the Joker simply sit back and slowly work his way out of the Asylum. Not once does he actually strike, shot, or stab a person. He’s able to convince others to do his dirty work.

The one element of the story needing some more TLC was the gradual victim of the book, Jason. Though he is in all of the action sequences, and shows incredible competency, we don’t get to know him. There seems to be an assumption for the reader to know of Jason’s fall in DC’s main canon, which is a crime to the character in the book.

There is a lack of emotion when the bloody end arrives. And personally I would’ve liked to have seen Batman when he learns of Todd’s death.

I enjoyed the book as a companion piece to The Dark Knight Returns. It hits most of the marks in the story and dialogue and the artwork by John Romita Jr. aids the story beautifully.

Seth Frederiksen
Seth Frederiksen
A post-grad history buff who is addicted to comics and books, and lover of anything with the words "ice" and "cream" in it. I've been a huge Batman fan since I can remember, and have come to appreciate sequential art as literature and entertainment. Also I have a soft spot for dogs. Just saying.