Batman Black & White: Armored Batman by Frank Miller review

Based on Frank Miller’s design from the 1986 series, The Dark Knight Returns, this armored Batman perfectly encapsulates the worn-out, dystopian vibe from the comics while showing the technological power Batman possesses in the story. This statue is a must for serious Batman collectors.

Based on the art of Frank Miller

Sculpted by Alterton

Limited edition of 5,000

Measures Approximately 7.3″ Tall

$95.00 US • On Sale August 2020 from DC Direct

Despite the disheartening news reported on August 10th, that DC Direct would be shuttered as part of a company-wide restructuring, the collectibles division still has many fine statues, toys, and more scheduled for the remainder of the dumpster fire that is 2020. And quite a few of those artfully crafted products come from the much-lauded Batman Black & White line, which features a monochromatic Dark Knight (and a small handful of sidekicks and villains) as he’s been imagined and reimagined by some of the best artists in comics, animation, and video games. Some artists have made such a mark on Batman history that they’ve even been given the chance to lend their talents to more than one statue, which brings us to DC Direct’s latest, a 7.37-inch polyresin tribute to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Only this time we see Batman wearing his armored suit from the climactic fight against the Man of Steel.

Thanks to Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, we’ve been seeing The Caped Crusader’s armored look more and more over the past five years, so it’s about time that the original design got its due in the Black & White lineup. Here we see Batman striding confidently, head tilted slightly upward, making it easy to imagine our hero is just about to call down Superman for the battle that fans haven’t been able to stop talking about for 34 years.

True to Frank Miller’s graphic novel, the statue features no obvious updates to the suit other than the bat symbol on the belt buckle, which has just sort of been accepted over the years even though it’s never visible in the comic itself. Go look at other Dark Knight Returns statues and toys of this suit and the Bat-buckle will be there. But open the comic and the front of the armored suit’s belt is only barely visible in one panel and… I’m squinting and not seeing a bat there. But since Frank Miller collaborated on this piece, I guess the Bat-buckle is indeed canon. Also, while we’re on the subject of me flipping back to the battle at the end of Dark Knight Returns to compare and contrast the details between the original art and the Alterton sculpt, I must say it is exceedingly surprising to see how brief Batman and Superman’s confrontation actually is. It seems larger than life in retrospect. And honestly it feels that way when you’re reading it as well, because you’re so involved in witnessing these two icons duke it out! But it seems, at least for me, that my mind filled in the blanks between panels, because I could’ve swore it was at least a 15-page-long rumble between the World’s Finest. In fact they are only fighting head-on for six pages and then it’s done. Page seven is Superman holding a “dying” Batman. Anyway, back to the statue…

While the frame, face, uniform, sonic rifle (which we saw a nod to in The Dark Knight Rises, but as an EMP rifle), and that masculine swagger in Batman’s step all ring true to the look and feel of the classic graphic novel, the statue does feature a little something extra to make it suggest something more lifelike in a 3D medium: texture. And I’m not just talking about the wrinkles of fabric, those were abundantly clear in Frank Miller’s pencils. I’m talking about things like scratches and dirt and other distressed details that have been applied to the sculpture in various shades of gray.

The armor was pristine before Batman set foot on Crime Alley in the comic’s final pages, but here we see some wear that, while not evident in the graphic novel, lends a sense of authenticity to the polyresin figure. I think it was a good choice by DC Direct to add these subtle details, it makes a bad ass Batman look all the more bad ass, you know? And, in addition to the distressing, you’ll also notice other minute elements that were not visible in the panels of the book but feel right in a physical, three-dimensional representation of Miller’s artwork. Things like the rivets dotting Batman’s big metal boots.

As for any negative comments about the statue, I think those will be directed solely at the cape. I find it odd that the artists behind this figure added all those touches I listed above to give the character a more lifelike appearance, but then they gave him a cape that looks so darn flat! It looks more like a board than a fabric draped behind him. Like a sizeable chunk of broken drywall strapped to his shoulders… Gazing at it dead on, it’s fine, I suppose. And it’s true to the angular lines that Miller gave it in the comic, but when it was reinterpreted for a 3D sculpture… it just seems like it should have billowed out a little or something. Instead it seems like Alfred used too much starch in the Caped Crusader’s laundry.


The newest Frank Miller-inspired Black & White statue gives us a confident, battle-ready Batman that will look incredibly cool on any shelf. The paint application is excellent, especially the fine details that give the armor plating a lifelike, worn appearance, but it’s the sculpt that Alterton and DC Direct have chosen that I like most about this piece. It’s a pose that conveys genuine attitude without being exaggerated. It perfectly expresses the aggressive, never-back-down spirit of the climactic fight from The Dark Knight Returns. Look at his feet, Batman is literally stepping up to the challenge. On the downside, the cape is entirely too flat. That’s acceptable as long as you display the statue from the proper angle so nobody notices, but from the side our hero’s cape looks odd and unappealing.

I recommend this statue to fans of Miller’s work, The Dark Knight Returns especially (obviously) but $95.00, even for a limited run of 5,000 figures, seems steep for something that doesn’t quite reach 8 inches tall and there is already so much other Dark Knight Returns merchandise out there. If you can find it for around $75 I would definitely say you should add it to your collection.

Batman News was provided a sample of this collectible by DC Direct for the purpose of this review.


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