I am not a big fan of sequels, and I fought off reading this TPB for a long, long time. The original Dark Knight Returns caught me off-guard at the perfect time in my life (I think I was 13 when it was released) and totally shifted my view of what comics could be. When I heard of the sequel, I cringed. I wasn’t picking up too many new comics at the time and the lack of good buzz and the cover price scared me away. I grew up on Miller’s Daredevil and Wolverine and didn’t want to witness a car crash.
Recently, someone whose opinion I respect a great deal (I’m talking to you, Joe Rice) told me that he really liked DK2, and when I saw a copy of the TPB for $10 at a used bookstore, I decided to give it a try. I was very pleasantly surprised. While the plotline is a little muddled, and I can see where some people were turned off by the artwork – I must admit that I feel like Miller has created a much better sequel than I could have imagined. Miller involves a much wider DC Universe in this one, and we are left with a gritty (there’s that word) Upstairs/Downstairs view of Superheroes. His re-introductions of Ray Palmer and Barry Allen were particularly sharp. The art is energetic – personally I find Miller’s crude pencils to be very appropriate for this near-apocalyptic future. The dialogue is sharp and Miller does a great job at showing the conflicts within the characters as each has a different perspective on ‘doing the right thing’.
I have got to give Miller his due – he is not one to rest on his laurels. This book was so fresh that it’s almost as if Miller hired some 18-year old ghost writer/artist. Is it as good as Dark Knight Returns? No. Does it succeed as a piece of comic book storytelling? Without a doubt.