Tuesday, January 6, 2009


#24. Batman vs. the Leader of the Mutant Gang

In the ensuing years, Frank Miller's classic 1986 tale of an older Batman returning to fix the problems of Gotham City has taken on the name of the collection edition, “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.” However, at the time the comic was released, the four book series was simply labeled “Batman: Dark Knight,” with each of the four individual books given their own sub-title. The first book, detailing Batman's' determination, after a 10 year retirement, to once again don the cape and cowl and bring justice back to the streets of Gotham, was titled “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.”

However, while Batman may have returned in the first issue, it was not until the battle in the second issue that you could say, as the book's title puts it, “Batman: Dark Knight Triumphant.”

Perhaps the biggest source of terror in Gotham was a gang calling itself the Mutants, consisting of the most vicious and violent criminals you could imagine. Miller makes a point of depicting them performing random acts of murder just to show how truly wretched the state of living was in Gotham.

Batman finds out where a gathering of the Mutants was taking place and shows up in his new, tank-like Batmobile, taking the gang apart with machine guns filled with mercy bullets. The powerful hulking leader of the Mutants challenges Batman to face him man-to-man, and a prideful Batman accepts his challenge. So Batman and the much younger, stronger thug engage in a truly brutal display of hand-to-hand combat with the end result being an almost certain defeat for Batman. Luckily for Batman, neither he nor the gang leader counted on the intervention of Carrie Kelly. Kelly, a young girl who had recently taken to wearing a homemade Robin costume after Batman saved her from some Mutants, manages to distract the gang leader before he can finish Batman, giving Batman enough time to use one of his gadgets from his utility belt to knock the gang leader out before Batman passes out himself. Kelly gets Batman to the safety of the Batmobile and the pair escapes.

While the Mutant leader is arrested, Batman manages to ask Commissioner Gordon for one last favor. First he has Carrie spread the word amongst the Mutants that they would be having another meeting. Next, Batman has Gordon release the Mutant leader. The gang leader then, naturally, meets up with his gang – however, Batman is waiting for him. This time, Batman is not foolish enough to fight him directly, but instead uses the shadows and all the tricks he learned over the years to cripple the gang leader in front of all the gathered Mutants.

Having defeated their leader, Batman now has the undying allegiance of all the Mutants, who soon begin wearing bat-shaped makeup on their faces and re-name themselves the Sons of the Batman.

For awhile, at least, the Dark Knight was triumphant.

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