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Valentina Moreno
Professor Vana DerOhanessian
English 114B
25 April 2014
Mislead and Neglected: The Life of a Teen Criminal
Today it is common that teenagers and adults cannot see eye to eye. Adults are not able to
understand most of the problems that teens face today. Presently graphic novels are most
common, and consists of panels with pictures and dialogues. In the graphic novel Batman: The
Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, we see Gotham parallel to our society with similar
problems that we encounter today. Batman, a vigilante, fights to decrease criminal activity and
bring safety into Gotham city. But he faces a lot of persecution from the law enforcement and
certain adults who want to blame all of Gothams crisis on him when he is preventing crimes
from rising. It is a natural, and a cowardly step that adults blame the behavior of adolescences on
iconic or celebrity figures, instead of facing responsibility of looking after the young. The Dark
Knight Returns, teaches its readers that the blame for young evil is our very own society;
therefore, leaders or the law enforcement should take effective steps into mentoring our
adolescents into the right path.
It is the norm to see teenagers rebelling in some sort of instance against society, but often
times this is a form of a teen crying out for attention. This is seen in book two of Dark Knight
Returns, where we see the Mutant gang arising against Gotham City. This demonstrates the
effect of teens not having an adult figure in their lives. The Mutant gang in the novel are a series
of teenagers who go about committing crimes in order to gain the attention of Gotham. Miller
was able to create a striking resemblance to how gangs in our society have behaved by depicting
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them as the Mutant gang. It is never seen that the Gotham police does anything to help and lead
these criminal teens into the right direction, instead in page sixty-one we see that the news media
briefly mentions their threats and dismisses them with other problems they deem more important.
The media and the law enforcement cant face the fact that they must take action for these
teenagers, instead they blame all the teenagers crimes on Batman. The adults of the community
show that they have no interest in helping out teenager because they think dumping the blame on
Batman will fix the problem. This can be seen in pages sixty-five, sixty-six and one-hundred-
thirteen, where Dr. Wolper talks against Batman. Even though Dr. Wolper helps criminals
change, it cant be said that he does anything to help teenagers except blame their actions on
Batman. This is similar to what most teenagers face today in our society. They are neglected and
seen as a burden, thus no one ever addresses what they can do to help them. Miller is able to
show his audience that, dumping criminal teens into jail or treating them as if they were a waste
time is not the right way to encourage them to pursue a way out of their criminal life. We have to
understand that the Mutant gang doesnt do this because they are truly evil, they just have been
shunned from their communitys attention, and so they pursue heinous crimes to gain the
attention of their society. This is seen in page seventy-six, in the dialogue it shows a couple
dining and wondering whether they had a kid or not. In this scene the reader can understand that
there is no such thing as guidance and discipline for a teenager in Gotham. It is commonly seen
that teenagers throughout the years, are seen as reckless, nave and over dramatic making it
difficult for adults to confront and speak to teens on a personal level. This is perhaps because the
problem that teens face today have evolved entirely to something different from what adults
experienced during their adolescence. Nevertheless, our society should pay more attention and
help criminal teens into a healthy path.
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Neglect pays a high price in the life of a teenager, and the consequences are seen by the
amount of crimes that are done by teens presently. In the documentary film that addresses the
behavior of teenagers, American Adolescence shows that our country has produced an unhealthy
environment for the growing teen; we have created a negative space where parents and
communities bring up children the wrong way, either by spoiling, overprotecting, or neglecting
todays youth. The film stresses many times that the lack of communication between a parent to
child and supervision of their actions, can lead teens to committing crimes. An example can be
seen in Gotham when most of the Mutant members continue to commit crimes or join other
higher ranked criminal gangs. Handing over too much freedom to an unsupervised teens allows
them to continue indulging even further in criminal actions. We see this occur in various events
with the Mutant gang as they start to handle darker crimes like kidnapping children or placing a
bomb inside a womens purse (see fig. 1 and 2). Miller used pathos in this instance to show the
extent or the possibility of not handling a teenager well can result in. Though extreme cases like
these rarely happen, they are present in our society. The novel is trying to evoke emotion to show
that something is needed to be done about young evil and that it can get worse if nothing is done
about it. Even today adults continue to neglect and bury their heads into the sand when they are
witness to teen crimes, guiding the adolescents path into the wrong direction.
Humans are social creatures and shunning teens away from healthy social groups can
make them turn to criminal gangs, where they will most likely be more accepted. To fit the part
or at least feel like theyre part of the family, teens will dress the way their group leader would.
The Mutant gang visually does not look like your average group of teenagers, instead they look
quite the opposite. We see that the followers dress exactly as their leader does, shaved heads with
a punk-rock look (see fig. 3). Miller graphically demonstrated that their leader is more depicted
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as a monster than he is human, this might indicate that the neglect from others can show that the
way the gang feels is shown by the way they look. As we see that the Mutant gang leader is full
of hate and anger, his outlook is depicted as a rat-like with sharp teeth, and extremely muscular.
Miller was able to demonstrate what the Mutant gang leader feels on the inside by designing him
as a monster on the outside. The Dark Knight Returns tells its audiences that perhaps the way
these characters were visually created are here to state that their youth has been robbed.
Teenagers are children in a sense; they are just beginning to walk towards adulthood, but the
Mutant tells us that perhaps they never had the chance to experience a healthy adolescence. This
could be because both the news media and the Gotham police arent doing anything positive to
solve the problem, they cant understand that the gang are just misled children who seek for
attention. Thus, adults should work together to prevent such a thing from happening, and to
provide a better environment for teenagers.
The time has come to make a difference and to take action for these teenagers, and
provide a future in which it wont contain more criminal teens. Miller was able to show in his
graphic novel that anyone can make a difference and help these teenagers move forward from
their crimes. Batman was the only character that was able to make progress with the Mutant gang
and give them a second chance. Though his methods were harsh, it was enough to actually find a
cure for the Mutant gang. Showing a little interest in teenagers can help change their perspective;
my father has helped many teenagers fight addiction and consuming drugs and even he has
mentioned through church programs that showing concern, compassion and dedication for these
kids can help them move past all the negative things in their life. The solution is to make a
difference in teens life and not leaving the problem aside, hoping that it will pass on just like a
phase.
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Though Batmans intentions are for the good of Gotham, the people who complain about
him are right to one extent; which is Batmans violent approach towards delivering justice.
Regardless, hero or villain, his actions are very influential in the mind of the young. In the article
published in La Prensa, When Children Kill, alludes that often times teenagers are able to
absorb the negative actions of others. The brain is almost like a sponge, in a peculiar way it can
reflect the good intention of others, but if corruption is present the brain will imitate the bad.
Furthermore, we must face the fact the very environment we provide for these teenagers may not
be entirely pure in every way. Batman adds a lot of violence, and that can be implanted inside the
brain of others, leading them to reflect his actions.
Our society hasnt done a very good job in providing an environment where teens can
strive for success and grow up mentally healthy. Gotham shows the reader that our community is
not the picture perfect utopia we picture it is, instead it shows us that we must take action and do
what it takes to fix it. Batman measures up to his responsibilities and is an example for adults to
follow in mentoring and helping out teens. Teens are not a burden, but a gift, we must train and
lead them with a sense of position in this Earth so that someday they can do the same for future
teenagers.





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Fig 1. Page 69 of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Source: Miller, Frank, et al. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. New York, NY: DC Comics,
2002. Print.

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Fig 2. Page 62 of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Source: Miller, Frank, et al. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. New York, NY: DC Comics,
2002. Print.





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Fig 3. Page 73 of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Source: Miller, Frank, et al. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. New York, NY: DC Comics,
2002. Print.





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Works Cited
Miller, Frank, et al. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. New York, NY: DC Comics, 2002. Print.
American Adolescence. Perf. Michael Resnick. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1999.
Film. American Adolescences. Today's Life Choices: Challenges for Our Times, 1999.
Web. 22 Apr. 2014.
"When Children Kill." La Prensa: 0. Aug 16 1998. ProQuest. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.