14 Totally Bonkers Moments From Frank Miller's Dark Knight Universe

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Vote up the Dark Knight Universe details that are just too over the top.

Frank Miller's Dark Knight comic book universe is somewhat of a unique story in mainstream superhero comics. Sure, Sean Murphy and his team of creatives are expanding the White Knight Batman series on a nearly yearly basis at this point. That being said, that doesn't hold a candle to how Frank Miller has gotten to write numerous Batman stories that take place in the same non-DC canon universe for almost 40 years now.

Beginning with 1986's The Dark Knight Returns and continuing on through 2019's Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child, Miller and his various collaborators have produced nine different projects that take place in the same timeline. While DKR has remained a beloved classic since its initial release, the rest of the projects are of, well, let's say "varying quality." As such, some wild things happen throughout Miller's decades-long take on the Bat. So, get ready to take in some of the "godd*mned Batman" as we recount some of the totally bonkers moments from Frank Miller's Dark Knight universe.


  • 1
    57 VOTES

    Dick Grayson Becomes The Joker

    Dick Grayson Becomes The Joker
    Photo: DC Comics

    Who doesn't love Dick Grayson? Introduced in 1940's Detective Comics #38, the young Grayson was the original Robin. He fought villains at Bruce Wayne's side for decades. He dropped that moniker to become Nightwing of the Teen Titans in the 1980s. He got to be a superspy agent of Spyral for a few years there. He's even been the freaking Batman in the main continuity for a time. Dick Grayson is awesome. Well, except for the Dick Grayson of The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

    The early-2000s sequel to The Dark Knight Returns certainly isn't the most beloved work in Miller's lengthy bibliography, and while there are many other things wrong with the book, turning the beloved Grayson into the new version of the Joker probably didn't endear the project to fans. This version of the former Boy Wonder was genetically altered to have a Wolverine-esque healing factor as well as shapeshifting abilities. Also, he's bats**t to boot. It's okay, though... Batman uses a bunch of lava to take him out in the miniseries' final issue.

    57 votes
  • 2
    54 VOTES

    Batman Forces Robin To Hunt Bats And Rats For Food

    Batman Forces Robin To Hunt Bats And Rats For Food
    Photo: DC Comics

    Why did Bruce Wayne take Dick Grayson in as his ward after the death of his parents? The original panels from Robin's debut in Detective Comics #38 don't elucidate much. Seriously, it's kind of funny to look back on. Three panels after meeting the young Grayson, Batman exclaims, "Well, I guess you and I were both victims of similar trouble. All right. I'll make you my aid. But I warn you, I lead a perilous life!" That was quick.

    It's generally accepted that Wayne saw a bit of himself in Grayson and wanted to give him a chance at a better life. This simply isn't the case in Frank Miller's mind. All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder sees Grayson essentially abducted by Wayne as he drafts him "into a war." The so-called "godd*mn Batman" doesn't seem to give a crap about Grayson's feelings or mental state whatsoever. When the young soon-to-be Robin is brought to the Batcave for the first time, Batman leaves him there alone in the dark and tells him to hunt bats and rats for food. It's easy to see why this version of Grayson ended up becoming the new Joker in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, huh?

    54 votes
  • 3
    43 VOTES

    Black Canary And Batman Make Love On A Pier As Goons Burn Alive Around Them

    Black Canary And Batman Make Love On A Pier As Goons Burn Alive Around Them
    Photo: DC Comics

    Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder is often considered a misfire of the highest order by those in the know. Going back and reading the mid-2000s story now makes it seem more like a farcical parody than anything else. It is the book where Bruce Wayne repeatedly calls himself the "godd*mned Batman," after all. The whole thing is utterly ridiculous (although Lee's art remains terrific, of course). Things really take a leap for the wacky in All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #7.

    This issue begins with Batman seemingly straight-up taking the lives of a bunch of machine gun-wielding bad guys on a random Gotham City pier. So far, so Miller when it comes to the Bat. And then, well, Black Canary enters the scene. Dinah Lance, perhaps best known for being a member of the Birds of Prey and major love interest of Green Arrow, is immediately infatuated upon meeting this version of the Dark Knight. So much so, the pair make costumed love right there in the rain, surrounded by burning bodies. When giving her a ride in the Batmobile afterward, Batman utters the following when she mocks his car's name: "Not one word. I've taken enough grief about calling my godd*mn car the godd*mn Batmobile. I'm the godd*mn Batman, and I can call my godd*mn car whatever the hell I want to call it." Okay, then. Everything is clearly normal and not terrible here.

    43 votes
  • 4
    36 VOTES

    Carrie Kelley Accidentally Swallows A Nude, Shrunk-Down Ray Palmer After Putting Him In Her Mouth During A Rescue Mission

    Carrie Kelley Accidentally Swallows A Nude, Shrunk-Down Ray Palmer After Putting Him In Her Mouth During A Rescue Mission
    Photo: DC Comics

    Superhero comic books are always at their best when they get a little weird. There are almost no limits to what you can do in the comic medium, and some creative teams can really stretch their artistic juices when the mood strikes them. It's how we get characters like Plastic Man and Deadpool and how Grant Morrison has become a storytelling titan over the past three decades. Wanna make an impact? Get weird.

    For example, in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Carrie Kelley (the Robin from Dark Knight Returns and here going as "Catgirl") goes on a mission to save Ray Palmer. Perhaps you know him better as the Atom, the Ant-Man-like hero with the ability to shrink. Well, Palmer ends up sans clothes during this escape mission, and Carrie attempts to carry him to safety. Unfortunately for the duo, people are trying to stop her, and it's getting pretty rough. So what does she do? She puts him in her mouth for safekeeping. And, after that horror sinks in, accidentally swallows him as well. She promptly barfs him back up, but talk about a horrific experience for the good doctor.

    36 votes
  • 5
    51 VOTES

    Batman Goes Up Against Bruno, A Neo-Nazi Joker Henchwoman With Nothing But Swastikas Over Her Nipples

    Batman Goes Up Against Bruno, A Neo-Nazi Joker Henchwoman With Nothing But Swastikas Over Her Nipples
    Photo: DC Comics

    One of the lasting images of The Dark Knight Returns is the character of Bruno. She works for the Joker. She is a Neo-Nazi. Oh, and she wears massive red swastika pasties over her breasts and buttocks. Honestly, there isn't much more to say about Bruno. She apparently was dating the Joker at the time of his incarceration in The Dark Knight Returns. She fights Bruce Wayne when he is dressed up as an elderly woman at a liquor store.

    It is a testament to Frank Miller's character design that such a minor character manages to stick in the memory. That being said, when you give a character curves covered in swastikas, people are bound to take notice. It is also quite brave to hit the streets in nothing but chaps, oversized gloves, and thigh-high boots. That is a lot of exposed flesh for the Batman to target.

    51 votes
  • 6
    28 VOTES

    Miller's Version Of Big Barda Is A Former Adult Film Star Who Declares Herself Dictator Of Columbus, OH

    Miller's Version Of Big Barda Is A Former Adult Film Star Who Declares Herself Dictator Of Columbus, OH
    Photo: DC Comics

    For the uninitiated, Big Barda is a member of the New Gods of Apokolips. Though she began life as a villain (because, duh, Apokolips), she subsequently fell in love with Mister Miracle and switched sides. Anyone who read Tom King and Mitch Gerads' incredible Mister Miracle knows what we are talking about. Barda was created by the Jack Kirby back in the 1970s and has been hanging around in DC's comics ever since. But we have to give it to Frank Miller for coming up with, ahem, a new spin on the character in The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

    Miller's Big Barda is a former adult film star that goes on a murder spree and declares herself dictator of Columbus, OH. Why Columbus? Why not? Based on the dialogue from her one-page appearance, she also seems to be into domination, not unlike Miller's Selina Kyle. Are we sensing a pattern? Now, this could all be a play on how Jack Kirby based Big Barda's likeness on Lainie Kazan after she appeared in Playboy magazine. Or it could be that Frank Miller wanted to turn Big Barda into a former adult actor. Who knows?

    28 votes