"The Last Crusade" Takes Us Before "The Dark Knight Returns"

DC has one heck of a planning team. I'm utterly amazed at how they can strategically tie together their books and cinematic universe so flawlessly. They orchestrated the release of a major motion picture like "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" to come out the same year as the 30th anniversary of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, which is a big chunk of the source material it's based on.

To top that all off, they also give fans a new sequel to "The Dark Knight Returns" co-written by Miller himself. Now comes the mandatory prequel to explain to everyone just how and why everything comes to be.

“The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade” takes us back in time to when Batman and Jason Todd’s Robin were still waging their war on the criminals of Gotham City. The Caped Crusader realizes he has limits and trains Jason to take up the mantle of the Bat one day. After the Joker escapes Arkham again, he sets in motion his own plans to give the Boy Wonder a lesson in hard knocks.

Although I’m not a huge fan of John Romita Jr.’s art style, it is unique and brings another level of grandiosity to “The Dark Knight Returns” legacy. In “The Last Crusade”, he does an exceptional job of melding his vision with that of Frank Miller’s. It makes for a visually striking and entertaining experience for its audience.

I didn’t see a rating on “The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade”, but I would give it a T for Teen. It contains violence, profanity, and frightening and intense sequences. Things do get a bit bloody at times, but if you’ve seen any of the “Batman” or “Dark Knight” movies, you know what to expect.

As much as I'd like to say “The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade” offers us something we haven’t seen before, I can't. Unfortunately, it leads to nothing more than a condensed rehashing of “A Death in the Family”. Keep in mind, that it all comes with Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller’s added social commentary and grit. I’m not saying it wasn’t an enjoyable read full of Bruce Wayne’s personal reflections and great action. I just expected something more coming from two such esteemed writers.

“The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade” is available now in print and digital editions.