In the final book of Frank Miller's influential graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, "Russia has taken the lead in the arms race" (Miller, 168). After a nuclear weapon forces Gotham into a frenzy, planes descend from the sky and destroy buildings, fires are started and mobs begin destroying the once lawful city. Escaping from jail, the Mutant Gang take to the streets claiming the night as their own. "Like in a western" (Miller, 175), Batman arrives once again to save Gotham city from destroying itself. Unlike other instances where he rides in the Batmobile, he gallantly arrives on horseback without all the technology that we have come to know of Batman. Together with his posse and lasso, the Dark Knight restores some law and order to the town of mayhem. At high noon, Batman faces Superman. During this epic battle, Bruce Wayne renounces his other persona so that he can have life a "good life" (Miller, 199). "The idea that a picture can evoke an emotional or sensual response in the view is vital to the arts of comics" (Mccloud, Page 121).
For my essay, I will be analyzing at the symbolism of the Wild West used throughout this graphic novel, and I will also be talking about its relationship to masculinity. Westerns, in general, involve strong men overcoming and battling weaker men and even nature to prove their prowess. This can come in the form of breaking horses, killing indians, and bedding their women. Usually in an area of lawlessness, they kill murderers, drunks, robbers and those who are morally wrong. These overall themes are strikingly similar to those found in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Batman and cowboys from the Wild West are able to not only use symbols to provoke strong emotions and sensual responses, but they use their masculinity to interact with the chaotic world them. .
Batman's adventures are similar to the west in the 19th century.