Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns
Though I'm often appalled by the visual style of this comic series, I must admit I have a good time reading it again and again. What a bold move after so many decades of camp! Miller knows exactly how to strike at Reagan's world in a fashion that would be heavily copied by Watchmen a few years later. The series is gritty and quite pessimistic, raw and sometimes even upsetting. There's a constant threat for nuclear war and even Superman is brought in to make things hard on Batman. And man, does it take hours to read through this! Sometimes there are 16 panels per page, full of text that makes you think about issues one usually doesn't find in a Batman comic, such as social depression and failed rehab programs for convicted psychos. In the meantime, Batman has a tough time coping with a world he may be too old to handle and a girl Robin, eager to earn her steps in superhero business.
This comic series doesn't leave me excited and happy, but rather slightly down
and at a loss of faith in humanity. It's not your average day hero stuff and you'll know it after the first panel. However, it's in the challenge of accepting this rather peculiar comic series that I find full pleasure. Its unconventional style and content, sometimes shocking and unsettling, may repulse people at first but it grows on you fairly quickly. With this series, Miller left a testament of the 80s fear of terrorism, nuclear annihilation, political corruption and social despair.
I don't know if I can strongly recommend it though. Some people may find it hard labouring through all those pages of small panels full of text. Some people may find it difficult to tolerate the ugly
visual style that was adopted for this work of art. Some people may prefer a simple fight between Batman and his nemeses and might therefore reject the big picture of this story. But if you can throw those relatively unfair objections aside, you might understand why The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most popular Batman comic series ever.