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For comic-book geeks, there might actually be a bigger release this year than “The Dark Knight Rises.”

DKR-1 Box ArtTry “The Dark Knight Returns,” a two-part, feature-length animated DVD, which will hit stores on Sept. 25.

The project is an adaptation of Frank Miller’s enormously influential 1986 graphic novel, which saw a bitter, middle-aged Batman (Peter Weller provides the voice) come out of retirement, teaming up with a new female Robin to fight wanton corruption and gangs taking over Gotham.

Oh, and did I mention when Batman is deemed too much of a vigilante threat, the authorities turn to another caped hero — with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men — to stop him?

Like a lot of people, I had been away from comics for awhile when “Dark Knight Returns” lured me back, and I remember going from one comic-book store to another trying to even find one. The damn things were selling out that fast.

While these animated PG-13-rated DVD releases based on Marvel and DC properties have largely been skewed to the fanboy base, “Dark Knight Returns” could cross over to a somewhat wider audience. And if the DVD is half as good as the original comics were, it should.

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