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5/10/2014

Batman The Dark Knight Returns B&W French and US Editions

Pour lire cet article en français, c'est ici. For a complete list of all books reviewed in this blog, please visit the index page.

This article deals with the French 2014 B&W edition of that story (as part of the Batman 75th Anniversary line), and the 2015 DC Batman Noir The Dark Knight Returns US edition.

Script Frank Miller, art Frank Miller, all material is ©DC Comics.

Batman 75th Anniversary French line
These books above are part of the French Urban Comics (the DC Comics label of Dargaud) collection published in May 2014 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman, along Hush, Dark Victory and Night of the Owls, with a limited print run of 3000 copies each (Killing Joke was published afterward). These are 12 x 8 inches (or 30 x 20 cm) hardcover books sharing the same collection design and published on very thick mat paper. In this article, we will focus on Batman The Dark Knight Returns.


The Dark Knight Returns (French edition, Urban):





This volume (ISBN: 978-2-3657-7519-9, 208 pages, cover price 29€) can be seen as a B&W (very) partial adaptation of the 1996 US Tenth Anniversary Edition of this story.


The books open with a two page introduction written by Frank Miller dated September 1996  (originally from the 10th anniversary edition), followed by a one page newspaper excerpts and a 1996 illustration. It reprints Batman The Dark Knight Returns (originally published in four parts) in a mix of full clean B&W and shades of grey (bromide as source material?), but this is in no way made from simple scans of the coloured version. Some pictures used as example below are chosen to demonstrate the advantage of using shades of grey to capture the colorist ideas (Lynn Varley).













I think that these pages would have lost some of their strengh in pure B&W

The bonus section is very thin (7 pages only) when compared with what's the US Tenth Edition had to offer (Miller original 1985 proposal, scripts, sketches, cover gallery ..).








Batman Noir The Dark Knight Returns (US edition, DC):




This edition published in June 2015 (ISBN 978-1-4012-5514-5, cover price $34.99, 200 pages) shares the same size and design with the previous French edition. It is also printed on mat quality paper (the French edition paper is a little bit thicker and its white is less bright). Below is a picture featuring both editions side by side. The US edition is printed and bound in canada.

left French edition, right US edition

same second and third of cover

US edition binding (same as the French edition)

Here the similarities end between the two editions. For instance, there is no introduction in the US edition.  If each part are also introduced by chapter headings from the 10th Anniversary edition, the US edition displays additionnal illustrations from the 10th Anniversary edition. But the main difference is that the US edition is printed with true B&W without shades of grey. Again, I don't know the origin of the source material for both editions, and I let you make your own opinion about each publisher's choice.




illustration on the left is not in the French edition

US edition

French edition

US edition

French edition, notice the darker Batman thoughts captions

left US edition, right French edition

a zoom to show that is the US edition there is only B&W

French edition

left US edition, right French edition

illustration on the left is not in the French edition

illustration on the left is not in the French edition

US edition

French edition, in this third chapter we have the most use of shades of grey

illustration on the left is not in the French edition

you know the drill by now..





The US edition finishes with a four pages cover gallery section (not present in the French edition) and authors bio.





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