Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade #1 Review (Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello)


At the start of The Dark Knight Returns we learned that Bruce was retired from being Batman because of the death of Jason Todd, aka Robin 2. Now, for the first time, Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello and John Romita Jr take us back to the time before TDKR to the last outing of Batman and Robin - their Last Crusade - and the final days of the short and tragic life of Jason Todd. 

So is The Last Crusade any good? Nah. It has the same problem that the majority of crap prequels have which is that it doesn’t tell us anything more than what we already knew. Does this comic develop and enrich our understanding of where Bruce is coming from in TDKR more? Nope! Is it at least entertaining? Nuh-uh. Boo! 

This issue’s story is a remarkably bland one involving brainwashed wealthy men and Poison Ivy - it’s the kind of unimaginative Batman/Ivy story we’ve seen a hundred times before, so much so that I’m surprised Miller/Azzarello thought they could get away with it here. 

Despite being featured on the cover, the Joker unfortunately doesn’t do much in this issue besides getting tossed into Arkham before, shock of shocks, escaping it. I suppose for a comic about the death of Jason Todd we needed Joker because, whichever universe he’s in, poor Jason’s fate is inexplicably tied to Joker and a blunt instrument? Like the rest of the issue, it’s an unimaginative choice to end things the way Miller/Azzarello do here. 

But of course it’s not just Jason’s demise that causes Bruce to hang up the cape. When he’s not talking about a successor, there are scenes where he’s talking about how his body’s falling apart - his days are filled with pain, barely kept in check with pills. He’s ready to retire and leave Batman to someone else, especially after his encounter with Killer Croc! 

Also, and this isn’t a major complaint but, Croc wouldn’t say “em effah” or “effin’”! He’d say “MOTHERFUCKER!” and “FUCKIN’!” - obviously DC don’t have to print the swears but they could at least bleep them with symbols rather than make him sound like a twat. 

This being the Dark Knight Returns world the issue is filled with TV talking heads which I’m not a huge fan of just because that style is so hackneyed. Some of the presenters do talk about the effect being Robin must have on a young person, perhaps a reference towards what we find out happened to Dick Grayson in the godawful Dark Knight Strikes Again. 

Overall, Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello’s story is wholly superfluous and unmemorable. Nothing was added to Miller’s original story with this, it’s just DC raiding fans’ nostalgia and the DKR brand again. John Romita Jr’s art is what it always is, at least for me - neither good nor bad - though, like Andy Kubert on DKIII, he makes an effort to adapt his art style to appear similar to Miller’s in the ‘80s, and it works in the Joker sequences. 

The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade is a lousy prequel comic that fans of Miller’s classic needn’t bother with - what we get at the opening of The Dark Knight Returns is enough. The Last Crusade is uninspired and full of Batman cliches that definitely don’t make the hefty price tag worth it. Eff this!

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