Something That’s Always Bothered Me About the Dark Knight Returns

The Dark Knight Returns is an absolute classic and I love the animated adaptation as well, but there’s one relatively small plot point that I’ve never quite been able to wrap my head around. In Book Two, it’s revealed that Nathan Briggs, a top military general, has been selling weapons to the Mutants in order to pay for treatment for his wife’s rare Hodgkin’s disease, which his insurance refused to cover. There are two things that bother me about this:

  1. Briggs is a four-star general, so how the hell would he not have good enough insurance to get this covered? I can sadly understand the average person not getting such coverage, but you’d think that one of the military’s highest ranking officers would be afforded such care
  2. Even taking the insurance refusal into account, again, Briggs is a four-star general, so how the hell does he not have enough money to pay for treatment out of pocket?

I know this is a fictional dystopian world where things go badly for most people, but for some reason this has still always stuck out as a plot point where I just haven’t been able to suspend enough disbelief to let it slide. It hardly ruins the book or the movie for me at all, but it’s just annoying enough to keep me thinking about it anyway. Anyone else happen to agree?

  1. They use you then forget you. He was a four-year general. WAS. He’s past his prime, and now that they no longer need him to fight their wars, they no longer care for him or anyone in his immediate circle.

  2. It’s Gotham, and drugs are expensive…

(I imagine Frank Miller writing it something close to this).

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His glory days may have been behind him, but he’s still active, as his having an office proves. Plus, w/ the conflict in Corto Maltese representing the height of the Cold War in the DKR universe, there are clearly still battles that need to be won. Admittedly, w/ Superman basically fighting America’s battles, it does seem like there’s much less of a need for someone like Briggs, but if that’s the case, why even still keep him around?

But he’s a U.S. general who shouldn’t be restricted to getting treatment in Gotham. And even still, unless government salaries are drastically reduced in this universe, Briggs should have a 6-figure salary. Even if he went bankrupt paying for the treatment, it should still be an option. The fact that he resorted to selling weapons to the Mutants indicates that even if he blew through all the money he had, it wouldn’t be enough, which is just insane to me

If your careless with how you spend it, money can vanish quickly, even substantial amounts. I’ve seen too many documentaries about sports stars (Mike Tyson, Shaq when he was a rookie, Scottie Puppen, etc) to question that.

That’s certainly true, and we ultimately have no idea how he lived outside of his job. If outside spending was a factor, though, then we should’ve at least gotten a hint about it. And when I talked about him blowing through all his money, I just meant in terms of spending all of it on treatments for his wife. Obviously if he had blown everything on other stuff, then it would make perfect sense that he wouldn’t be able to afford it