The Ultimate Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Statue

Premium Format statue available to pre-order from Sideshow Collectibles

by Steven Lee Sharpe
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Sideshow Collectibles have released pre-order details for what must be a definitive statue depicting one of the most popular superheroes of all time from his most famous and influential graphic novel – welcome to the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns statue.

Released in 1986, the original series arrived at the start of what has become recognised as The Modern Age of comics, a time when the medium was growing in recognition as an art form, and the themes and plots were getting darker and more complex. It was the rise of the anti-hero, sometimes better described as heroes that were flawed and were often put through the wringer to such extremes that it brought out violent responses from them.

In Frank Miller’s tale, Bruce Wayne, now in his fifties and retired due to the death of Jason Todd (see, it’s dark already!) is forced to return to crime-fighting as Batman, due to the rising terror caused by a gang called The Mutants. Of course it doesn’t stop there, and Batman finds himself up against increasing odds including Harvey Dent, the Joker, the Gotham police, the Government, and eventually Superman himself.

The tale is violent, ground-breaking in its use of panels, political, satirical and throws in a mediation on aging. It influenced not only future Batman stories to come, but screen adaptations, most notable in Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder’s movies.

This Premium Format statue from Sideshow Collectibles could be seen as not only a homage to the series, but to the first issue specifically. Initially the comic series was called Batman: The Dark Knight, with each of the four issues given a subtitle. When it was collected as a graphic novel, the subtitle of the first issue was used, The Dark Knight Returns (the others being The Dark Knight Triumphant, Hunt The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Falls). Also, it was the cover to the first issue that featured that now-famous image of Batman silhouetted by the streak of lightning – the image that this statue recreates.

Of course a silhouette wouldn’t make a great statue, so what designers and sculptors Daniel Bel and Richard Luong have done is to imagine how Batman would look in that pose with more light. They’ve also adapted it a little to make it their own, making subtle changes to the pose so that he doesn’t appear to be jumping from a greater height and making the cape less like bird wings and look more flowing. The result is an extraordinary blend of Frank Miller’s art style brought to proverbial life in a way that makes it feel realistic.

Bel and Loung have clearly imagined The Dark Knight in the midst of battle when making this jump, rather than leaping into the fray. His suit is ripped, battle-fatigued, and smudged with blood and there’s an intense grimace on his bloody face – it’s an expression of the older Bruce Wayne that looks as if it was drawn by Miller himself. Although this isn’t a direct copy from a panel, this is clearly Miller’s aged Batman, with the large Bat symbol, shortened ears on the cowl, the pouches on the utility belt, and those heavy boots.

There are other inspired interpretations. As I’ve mentioned, the designers have decided to keep Batman closer to firm footing than in the original artwork and in this case they have him leaping from a gargoyle – and that gargoyle is carved into the image of the Joker. What a fantastic way to bring The Dark Knight’s most famous nemesis into the mix! Also, Bernardo Esquivel has done a great job of adding depth to Miller’s two-tone grey Batsuit in the paint job. To accentuate the light from the lightning bolt, a blueish hue has been added to the highlights.

Then there’s that lightning bolt. The designers have added extra intensity to it by placing it directly behind Batman and striking the stone gargoyle that he’s leaping from. Debris leaps from the impact point, which is attached magnetically, and the mains powered light turns up the effect of white heat from the lightning. It seems to capture something about Batman himself, directly from the story; as if his return to violence is as inevitable as the increase of negative electrical charge in the sky that builds to a lightning strike… and as destructive!

It’s difficult to come up with another Batman story that has been as influential as TDKR (remember when Stephen King praised Miller for saving Batman?) and there aren’t too many superhero graphic novels that have been analyzed and critiqued as much over the years.

Although it hasn’t been used as the cover image for the collected edition for a long time, it’s probably still one of the most enduring images from the series. This incredible statue captures the athleticism and power of Miller’s Batman, while that impressive light-up lightning bolt aptly demands your attention.

In two words: magnificent intensity.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns statue is available to pre-order from Sideshow Collectibles.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Statue – Product details:

Purchase Limits
Limit of 2 per person.
Product Size
Height: 31.50″ (80 cm)
Width: 22″ (55.9 cm)
Depth: 21.50″ (54.6 cm) *

Box Size

Height: 21.25″ (54 cm)
Width: 22.25″ (56.5 cm)
Depth: 39.25″ (99.7 cm) *

Shipping Weight

49.00 lbs (22.2 kg) *

* Size and weight are approx. values

Images and press release courtesy of Sideshow Collectibles

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