The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Frank Miller, art by Rafael Grampá, colors by Jordie Bellaire, and letters by John Workman and Deron Bennett. Darkseid is coming. And as the heroes of earth brace for the inevitable confrontation, a resounding question fills their thoughts: Is humanity worth it?
The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1 strives to be a deep philosophical look at humanity. Through the eyes of Lara and Johnathan Kent, we are shown different views of what humanity really is. While depth is the goal, this book falls regrettably short of its mark. Because Lara comes across as petulant at best, her view of humanity immediately feels biased and askew. While Johnathan’s sensibly delivered optimism feels like the obvious point to follow. While I appreciate a book taking strides to deliver a philosophical narrative, these themes do not compensate for a lack of meaningful storytelling for which The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1 is sorely lacking in.
While the primary narrative focus of a confrontation with Darkseid is clearly laid out, one cannot help but feel like there is another issue to this story that is missing. No motives or reasons are given for much of what happens. Things simply are what they are. There is an election going on in the background of the story. Apparently it is important, though why is never made clear. Darkseid has some hand in it, though again why and how are left out. The Joker has time in this story though he feels like he’s there simply because it’s a gritty story with a Batman character so of course, The Joker gets his time. Every step of this story feels like Miller was so eager to write the parts he wanted to that he doesn’t take the time to formulate an adequate narrative with which to deliver them.
The art overall does a good job of conveying the moments presented by the story. A few of the character designs felt a bit off to me. Particularly Johnathan Kent, who feels like he’s trying too hard to look like an angsty teen despite not yet having reached the age to be such. I do however enjoy the visual approach to Darkseid. He is always presented with the power one would expect and there are several truly unique moments with him that felt truly eye-catching.
One area however where The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1 struggles visually is in the melding of its words with its images. There are a number of times throughout this book I struggled to keep the dialogue ordering straight in my head. I do not fault the letterers for these struggles. After all, a person can only fit so much dialogue into a one-inch square that is two-thirds occupied by a character. These moments, along with panels depicting apocalyptic explosions overlaid with a dozen text boxes make the story often times hard to keep straight.
While there are a few standout moments and aspects that work in this book overall it flounders in its over-focus on the theme at the expense of narrative. While it delivers a better tale than my last experience with the writer, it still doesn’t reach the level that I would expect from one so widely vaunted as a legend in the medium.
The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1 is available on December 11th wherever comics are sold.
The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1
While there are a few standout moments and aspects that work in this book overall it flounders in its over-focus on the theme at the expense of narrative.