'Dark Knight Returns' Team Reveals Story Behind 'Batman' Art That Caused Controversy in China

Dark Knight Golden Child - Publicity - H 2019
Rafael Grampá/DC
Frank Miller and Rafael Grampa say DC deleted an image not because it was used by Hong Kong protestors, but because the credits were incorrect.

At Comic Con Experience in São Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday morning, Frank Miller and Rafael Grampa talked about their upcoming collaboration The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child and addressed reports that DC had removed a promotional image from social media after it had been used by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong.

The image in question featured Carrie Kelley, the lead character from the Dark Knight Returns series, with a flaming Molotov cocktail in her hand, with the caption, “The Future is Young.” After being initially posted on DC’s social media channels in late November, it was removed amid reports that China had complained to the company that the image was implicitly supporting Hong Kong protestors.

The image has since reappeared in promotion for the title, even as the slogan has started to appear in graffiti in Hong Kong.

Grampa revealed that the actual reason for the image’s disappearance was far more mundane. “DC posted the wrong image without our names and the credits,” he said. However, he was happy that the image and promotional slogan were adopted by protestors.

“People want something to be inspired by, and people are fighting for their freedom. This is what The Golden Child is,” Grampa said. “We’re trying to tell a story about people thinking for themselves.”

Miller seemed bemused by the controversy, but didn’t shy away from the issue. “The main thing I want people to take away from [the comic] is for them to put it down and say, ‘Boy, that was a good one. It looked beautiful.’ That’s the goal,” he said. “There are political entities out there so afraid of expression that they’re afraid of a picture. ...They’re going to collapse anyway.”

During the panel at the Brazilian convention, both Miller and Grampa emphasized that the comic is intended to push the Batman franchise in new directions, continuing the intention of Miller’s original 1986 Batman: The Dark Knight comic book series.

Dark Knight was conceived as something that would push things. It’s not a series to go back and fill in the gaps, that’s for other people,” Miller joked. “This is about seeing what’s next in Carrie Kelley’s life. … From very early on in the first Dark Knight, I decided that she was the main character of the entire series, and for me she’s maintained that status. … She’s a hardened optimist. She doesn’t have a vengeful bone in her body, She really wants to do good.”

The special issue, which also features Lara and Jonathan, the children of Superman and Wonder Woman — the latter of which is, according to Grampa, “basically the most powerful character that the DC Universe has seen, ever” — is, the artist said, “about a new generation. When we started working on this, I said, ‘I’m really going to miss Superman and Batman,’ but I really didn’t miss them at all. We’re seeing the youth teaching their elders.”