After the bloated third instalment in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns saga, it seems that Miller is still not done. Dark Knight Returns : The Golden Child picks up a few years after the Master Race and focuses on the generation after Batman and Superman. Our story analysis follows.
Dig the New Breed
In the premises, instead of the World’s Finest, we are left with Carrie Kelley as the new Batwoman (she was of course Robin in the original series) and Superman’s children, Lara and Jonathan Kent.
Carrie is very much the proverbial good soldier, motivated by doing the right thing by her Boss (i.e. Batman). Lara is the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman and has an inflated ego that deems herself superior to mankind. Jonathan is an enigmatic quiet figure, the Golden Child of the piece.
Characterisation is sparse as expected, monotoned and never developed beyond the stereotypes I referred to above. In fact, it is the villain Darkseid who is more interesting than the protagonists. Miller presents Darkseid as an irresistible force of nature, the destroyer of worlds, the final god.
And a child shall lead them …
As the title suggests, the story is really about Jonathan Kent and how he is able to stand up to the threat of Darkseid. Sure, you might suggest that Dark Knight Returns : The Golden Child is really an excuse to spin out a story-long battle scene – what superhero story isn’t? – but to his credit, Miller is using the superficial narrative to make a point about the current political climate in the USA i.e. the re-election of Trump.
Sure, there is enough evidence of that thematic under-current to go around. Much of it is presented in Lara’s disdain for the meaningless lives of human beings. But it is Jonathan’s power that Miller is perhaps suggesting that it will be in youth that the salvation of democracy lies. Make of that what you will.
It’s Miller time!
Brazilian artist Rafael Grampá does an amazing job in blending a Miller-esque art style with European influences. The book looks really good – whatever you might think of Miller’s brusque writing.
In the final analysis, Dark Knight Returns : The Golden Child seems like a superfluous exercise in super-heroic bombast. Political commentary might seem like a reasonable justification for extreme comic book art but at this late stage, I am not too sure it is, anymore. Frank Miller’s heyday is long past and his heavy handed writing approach is no longer relevant. Hopefully, we never have to return to this particular DC universe ever again.
… still there’s more …