If you’re a Batman fan, then chances are you’re quite familiar with the cover of The Dark Knight Returns. This seminal Frank Miller text helped transform Batman into a serious hero again and, combined with Watchmen, helped usher in a golden age of mature comics for older readers.
The Dark Knight Returns Cover
Now, fans young and old have been examining the famous cover of this graphic novel and discovered something shocking: as IGN reports, fans had always assumed Batman’s back was to the reader in the silhouetted cover, but it appears he has been facing the reader the entire time.
The Batman Cover Debate
It’s worth stressing that this bombshell revelation wasn’t confirmed directly by Frank Miller or anyone else originally attached to the production of The Dark Knight Returns.
Instead, this was a revelation X (formerly known as Twitter) user @KrakenKaptain dropped on Batman fans: “Frank Miller always intended for this shot to be Batman front-facing, when most people see it as his back-facing audience.”
His conclusion capped off fierce online discourse that originally started when @Cakes_Comics asked readers if they saw Batman as front-facing or back-facing in the iconic image.
Looking With Fresh Eyes
This question understandably launched plenty of debate among Batman fans online, and as @Cakes_Comics noted, the Caped Crusader fan community finally had its own version of the infamous dress that some people saw as gold and others saw as black.
It turns out that some people had always seen Batman as facing forward in the image, and many of them were surprised to discover that the majority of faces thought the Dark Knight was facing backward.
After @KrakenKaptain dropped his knowledge regarding Frank Miller’s intentions, it made countless fans all over the world re-examine this image with fresh eyes.
Frank Miller’s Style
Some readers who always thought Batman was facing forward in the image had a simple reason for their own assumptions.
In the interior of the comic, Frank Miller had a tendency to show Batman facing forward. Therefore, it stood to reason that the cover would be a silhouette of a similar image. But we didn’t feel that silly about our back-facing assumptions because one of the biggest names in the business was similarly fooled.
In response to @KrakenKaptain, Mark Miller (who brought us comic hits like Old Man Logan and Kick-Ass) wrote, “This blows my mind” and that he “always, always thought it was a bold shot from behind.”
Zack Snyder’s Interpretation
Controversial Hollywood heavyweight Zack Snyder clearly thought the same thing. In his film Batman v. Superman, we can clearly see Batman’s back to the audience when he strikes this pose during the battle with Doomsday.
Honestly, if we were adapting that image to film, we also would have chosen the more iconic back-facing image rather than the somewhat sillier front-facing image.
Best Batman Stories
None of this changes the fact that The Dark Knight Returns is one of the best Batman stories and, for our money, would of the best graphic novels in comic book history.
Regardless of which way Batman is facing, we’re still going to return to this comic year after year.
We won’t lie, though: from now on, we’re probably going to snicker like one of the comic’s Mutant gang members when looking at the cover.