Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Frank Miller
Either one of the top three on this list could have landed the No. 1 spot, but we’re going with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Not just because it’s the best Batman story on here, but because it’s all-around one of the best comics ever published. Setting its sights on a futuristic Gotham City and an aging Bruce Wayne, Miller’s magnum opus is a neo-noir tragedy with hints of social commentary and a metric ton of action on every page.
The story begins with the elder Wayne being pulled back into his crime-fighting ways as he watches his city get overrun by a vicious gang calling itself The Mutants. Backed up by a new female Robin named Carrie Kelly, this geriatric version of the Dark Knight has a salty attitude that makes Dirty Harry look like Richard Simmons.
During this epic, Batman runs across familiar allies and villains alike as DC legends such as the Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, and the Green Arrow all make their presences felt in this dystopian society. But no character is more of a threat to the world than Batman’s onetime ally, Superman. Now a tool of an oppressive government, the Man of Steel is eventually tasked with taking down the Caped Crusader in a climactic battle that brings the pain in terms of both physicality and emotional resonance.
Everything clicked here for Miller. The script is dense and thought-provoking, the art is seedy and iconic, and there are plenty of moments that will stick with you well after you're finished reading. This title came at a time when DC was ripe with ideas that would change the industry, and decades later writers are still trying to top this masterpiece.