3. BATMAN: YEAR ONE (1987)
In 1987, DC entrusted Frank Miller to retell the origin of the Caped Crusader in a stripped down fashion, complete with corrupt cops and a veritable supporting cast of pimps and hookers. The result was Batman: Year One, written by Miller and illustrated to noir perfection by Dave Mazzucchelli.
The story depicts the first year in Gotham for Commissioner Gordon and the return of Bruce Wayne after years of exile. Miller paints Gordon as an honest cop who sees his personal life spiral out of control after being introduced to the seedy underbelly of Gotham; meanwhile, Wayne returns from years of training overseas in order to combat the corruption and violence that has overtaken his city. Together they form one of the strongest bonds in comic book history by complimenting each other’s strengths and ignoring each other's weaknesses.
Miller went to great lengths to portray Batman’s world in an incredibly realistic way by taking out all of the character’s sci-fi gadgets and over-the-top villains. Instead he left readers with an obsessed man in Spandex systematically taking down the mob, but he did it in a thrilling way that let readers in on the psychology behind the mask. And when you throw in Mazzucchelli’s near-perfect art, Year One remains not only one of the best Batman stories of all time, but one of the best comics as well.