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The Dark Knight Returns is a possible future for Batman. Bruce Wayne has retired from being the Dark Knight of Gotham however with the rise of the Mutant Gang he decides to return becomes the protector of the night once more. After Batman's re-emergence old rivals surface and Bruce battles Two-Face and foils his plan to bomb Gotham's Two Towers.
Bruce's actions go on to inspire Carrie Kelly to become the next Robin and joins Batman in his fight to regain control of Gotham. After the Mutant Leader's defeat the United States is conflicted over the actions of Batman once more and Superman is asked by the President to talk him down. Many of the previous mutants choose to become the Sons of the Batman, while others continue their pursuits of crime under different mantels.
The Joker is released and goes on a wave of terror upon which the Dynamic Duo face him, ending with the death of the Joker. During these events the US and Russia via for control of Corto Maltese and the US manages a swift victory with the aid of Superman. Upon defeat the Russian's choose to fire a nuclear weapon which is diverted by Superman but still releases an EMP knocking out all of the power in Gotham City. Chaos ensues and Batman and the citizens of Gotham, including the Sons of the Batman, fight to restore order.
Superman is then tasked with taking down Batman and a dual between the two most prominent DC heroes takes place. Bruce ends up chemically inducing a heart attack to fake his own death. Batman's identity is as a result released to the general public and when he returns we are left with the prospect of Batman training the Sons of the Batman and Carrie Kelly to replace him.
*Note: Alan Moore wrote the Introduction to the early printing of this trade paperback. The Introduction would be dropped for later printings.