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The Dark Knight Returns

The Dark Knight Returns is a superhero comic book story published by DC Comics between 1985 and 1986, starring Batman. The story's creator, Frank Miller, sought to create a fitting "end" for the character of Batman: just as the Norse myths had their Ragnarok, so would Batman meet his end at some tragic moment in the near future. The book is set in a dark, depressing world of the future where criminals run amok, and Batman's home of Gotham City is being terrorized by a gang of murderers called The Mutants. Bruce Wayne (Batman) is approaching sixty years old, and he gave up the role of Batman ten years before the story begins. But he reaches a point in his life where he cannot sit back and watch the world be overrun by thieves and murderers, and so he dons the mantle of the Caped Crusader one last time and embarks on a final battle against the world.

Upon its publication, The Dark Knight Returns turned the comic book industry on its ear. It helped to introduce an era of more adult-oriented storytelling to the mainstream world of superhero comic books, and it received media attention the likes of which had never seen before in a medium long believed to be little more than children's entertainment. This story, along with Alan Moore's Watchmen (published in the same year) and Art Spiegelman's[?] Maus, helped to raise the medium to a more mature level of literature, and it ushered in the popularity of "graphic novels as a form of literature that truly differs from child-oriented "comic books." Critics have accused this story of giving birth to the era of "grim and gritty" comic books that lasted from the late 1980s through the early 1990s, when comic books took many adult-oriented themes (especially violence and sexual situations) to the limits of decency.

In 2001 and 2002, DC Comics published The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Miller's sequel to The Dark Knight Returns. Despite a heavy promotional campaign by the publisher, the book failed to gain the same acceptance that the original story received.

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