Creators Pick Their DARK KNIGHT RETURNS ‘Hell Yeah!’ Moments

There are so many to choose from — and we asked some of today’s top pros to select theirs …


UPDATED 1/27/20: Frank Miller turns 63! I first published this for The Dark Knight Returns’ 30th anniversary and in anticipation of Dark Knight III. Today’s a perfect time to present it again. Enjoy. Oh, and for THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: A Celebration, click here. — Dan

It’s DARK KNIGHT WEEK and in Part 3 of our virtual creators’ roundtable — including pros such as Greg Capullo, Darwyn Cooke and Mike Allred — we wrap things up by focusing on the best of the best moments in Frank Miller’s magnum opus. (Oh, and why are we doing this now? Because Dark Knight III #1 comes out 11/25.)

In Part 1 (click here), creators remembered their initial impressions of Miller’s landmark work.

In Part 2 (click here), they discussed how it work influenced them as storytellers.

My own 13 QUICK THOUGHTS about The Dark Knight Returns‘ legacy (can be found here).

Now, more than a dozen writers and artists pick their favorite “HELL YEAH!” moments … and tell us why:

dark-knight-returns-batman-and-judge-dredd-action_5fpa.1920 copy

Greg Capullo (Batman)

One?! Sigh. I guess if my feet are to the fire here, I’d say… You know, you’re mean to ask this question, right? This is like a “Pick your favorite son or daughter”-type question. Sigh. I’m going to say the confrontation between Batman and Superman. Bruce wired up to Gotham to power his armor…? That bullet nose helmet? Making Superman bleed?! I mean, c’mon! Love, love, loooove it!

Capullo's DKIII #1 variant

Capullo’s DKIII #1 variant

Ron Marz (Legends of the Dark Knight)

I think a lot of people gravitate to the battle between Batman and Superman, or the Joker snapping his own neck. That’s a brilliant page. But if there’s one moment that sums up the story for me, one image, it’s the stark splash of Bruce hugging Carrie from the second issue. DKR is brutal and violent and even ugly, but that’s the moment for me, because it’s about love.


Mark Waid (All-New All-Different Avengers)

The very first time you see Bruce in costume again — that full-page shot of him leaping out towards us. That blew my mind.


Sonny Liew (Doctor Fate)

“The other… hurts.” That fight with the robbers that takes place early in the book — it’s such a great minor payoff, one of those adrenaline rushes that the book keeps on giving through brilliant setups and pacing. Perfectly delivered punchlines, or in this case, a Batman kick into the midsection.


 Darwyn Cooke (The New Frontier)

“This isn’t a mudpit… it’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon!”

Cooke's DKIII #1 variant cover

Cooke’s DKIII #1 variant cover

Just the most badass, perfect Batman line and scene. Years later I got to adapt this scene for Batman Adventures.

Fred Van Lente (Conan the Avenger)

It’s earlier on, but what I think really sold me was Bruce deciding not to die at the car race at the very beginning. It’s a very human character moment that sets up what Wayne is about right from the get-go, makes him relatable in a way a lot of writers struggle with.


Greg Smallwood (Moon Knight)

It would definitely be the mudhole scene with Batman’s line, “And I’m the surgeon.” It’s his comeback moment and I just love the brutality of that fight.

Mike Allred (Batman ’66)

The one I chose for my (variant) cover. Batman actually believably taking on Superman. Wow. Never thought I’d see that happen.

Allred's Dark Knight III #1 cover

Allred’s Dark Knight III #1 cover

Jim Zub (Wayward)
Obviously it’s a Batman story, but one of the moments that still takes my breath away is seeing Superman lifting that tank: “We must not remind them that giants walk the Earth.” It’s mythic. Indelible.


Jamal Igle (Molly Danger)

I think for me it always comes down to the Superman/Batman fight. I still kind of hate Frank for that, lol.


Shawn Martinbrough (Thief of Thieves, Detective Comics)

There are a ton a visual moments but the one that still gives me goosebumps is the transition between the American flag and Superman’s emblem. A brilliant use of design and iconography!


Aaron Lopresti (Metamorpho)

When the Joker broke his own neck. I didn’t expect that to happen. I thought the ending where Clark Kent realizes that Batman is still alive and then just walks away was fantastic.


Phil Hester (Batman Beyond Universe)

I know it’s going to sound weird, but when Batman uses that nauseating gas to take out all those cops instead of engaging in fisticuffs, I thought, “Yeah, that’s what a smart super-hero would do. Batman is smart!”

Ty Templeton (Batman ’66)

“Good thing I brought the gun.”

There’s a moment where Batman is waiting for a helicopter to arrive on one of TWO possible tower rooftops, and he can’t cover both of them, so he casually drops that he’s glad he brought a gun. At the time, Batman was gun-o-phobic (he still is to some extent) and the line was SUCH a departure from regularly scheduled Batman that it cemented the idea that it was a brand new world, a different set of experiences, an older, changed character. All in six words.

Now, I’m also gun-o-phobic, so it was a jarring moment for the character, but it was fair game in the terms of the same story with an armless Green Arrow and a retired Batman.


Liam Sharp (Madefire)

Impossible! But the moment that sticks out, that set the tone and absolutely made sure I was going to read it right through to the end, was the moment Bruce Wayne stands beneath a street lamp, and is surrounded by slice-and-dice’ thugs — thugs that basically back down and disappear because they can tell he’s “into it” without him even having to lift a finger. The man exudes menace and danger, and he’s on a kind of death wish… it was almost an Eisner moment. Pure noir. Brilliant!

Mick Gray (Robin: Son of Batman)

I really can’t say my favorite moment. As I read it, I SO wanted Clint Eastwood to play Batman in the film version!!! That, of course, never happened! I really dug finding out that Robin was a girl! Carrie Kelley is a GREAT character and I’m SO glad we got to use her, a BIT, in Batman and Robin #19! I kept that COMPLETE issue in original art!

Pat Gleason and Mick Gray

Pat Gleason and Mick Gray

Also, being a GIANT Batmobile fan, the “Bat Monster Tank” BLEW ME AWAY!!! The splash page with Batman on horseback REALLY gave me chills. Of course, what can you say about Batman fighting Superman? Do you think they will even come CLOSE to achieving this kind of FANTASTIC scene in the new Batman v. Superman movie? I’m not sure…



— THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: A Celebration. Click here.

— Creators On the Lasting Influence of DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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