A friend of mine recently had the opportunity to buy DK2 #1 for one dollar. He shied away because he remembered how much I had disliked the series. Apparently when the book was released back in 2001, I said that it was so bad, 'it might change how you look at the first series'.
Now I think those are overly dramatic words by me back then. Dark Knight Returns is and will always be a fantastic book no matter how bad the sequel is. In the same way, The Matrix will always be a great movie even if the two sequels were horrible.
That said, I had to admit that I hadn't read the series since it was released. Could 10 years and more life experience by me change what I thought of DK2. Could I have 'missed something' the first time around? I hadn't thought about DK2 in years. I figured it was time to look at it again.
Guess what ... it was as bad as I remember, if not worse. My overall thoughts are at the bottom. But I was stunned when I saw that Supergirl was in the book briefly. I had completely forgotten that.
In the series, Lex Luthor and Brainiac basically run everything on Earth behind the scenes. They have either eliminated, captured, ostracized, or control all the super-heroes on the planet (outside of Batman of course). This includes Superman.
Brainiac has somehow got his hands on the bottle city of Kandor and has his robot troops patrolling the city. Should Superman disobey, Brainiac selects a Kryptonian family within the city and murders them. With the future of the Kryptonian culture and people at stake, Superman kowtows.
Within Kandor, the leader of the Kryptonian rebels trying to overthrow Brainiac's troops is none other than Kara. Unfortunately she is captive and helpless. In a bit of melodrama, Kara cries out biblically to Kal 'Why have you forsaken us?' That is Kara's one panel in the book.
Here is Superman being taunted by Luthor and Brainiac about the Kandor predicament (it is a hologram, explaining the perspective).
Boy, Brainiac looks like Xerxes from 300.
There are a couple more Supergirl-specific moments in DK2 I thought I would share. The heroes, once back together and working against Luthor, run an assault mission against Midvale Orphanage. The orphanage is a 'secret' government facility ... as secret as you can be with guards, cannons, and electric fences.
It turns out the orphanage is a Cadmus-like genetics lab run by Dick Wilson. Dick Wilson, in the Silver Age, tormented Kara in the orphanage. He 'became' Dick Malverne when he was adopted.
Of course, there is a 'Supergirl' in DK2. Superman and Wonder Woman's daughter Lara plays a very active role in the second half of the book, rebelling against her passive father and acting as an angry pro-active hero.
But overall DK2 simply does not work. I think that Miller had no idea what he wanted this book to be. Unlike Dark Knight where an overall plot weaved through the chapters, DK2 is simply all over the place.
First off, it barely has Batman in it. It's more of a JLA story set in the Dark Knight world.
Second, it seems like Miller didn't know what he wanted the story to be. Batman v Superman ideologically? Batman v Luthor who has in essence taken over the world? Batman rallying the world to recognize they are all slaves to nonsensical media? Superman v Brainiac? Batman actually luring the JLAers out of retirement to lead the world again? Batman v a reincarnated Joker (won't ruin the surprise if people want to read this)?
It's all of those and more, but not enough of any of them. It is like an omelette with too many ingredients. The egg (Batman) isn't enough to hold it all together. It reads like a disorganized almost incoherent mess.
Third, Miller just shoves way too much Sin City in the story. Now I like Sin City. The problem is this isn't Sin City. And unlike Sin City, where the stories are pretty cohesive, here these bits stand out as 'why the heck is this moment here, it doesn't make sense'. Or 'why is he spending so much time on the half-dressed girl rock band; can't I have more Batman in this book?' Those moments are there, I assume, to make the people who bought DK2 because they are Sin City fans happy. But I bet those people hate all the superhero stuff.
As a result, I would once again recommend that people don't read this book.
There are some ... maybe a handful ... of moments that work, unlike pretty much the entirety of Dark Knight Returns which still rocks.