Famous names: Frank Miller, Lynn Varley

Crunchy goodness: 4

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Spinoffs/Sequels/Copycats: Miller returned to the well over a decade later, for the critically panned Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Back. He also expanded on his Bat-aesthestic in Batman: Year One and most recently All-Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder.

Elevator pitch: Holy Mad Max, Batman!

Stunt casting: A TV host who looks suspiciously like David Letterman interviews the Joker on live TV — until the Joker takes it upon himself to murder the whole studio audience.

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Design breakthrough: Art in The Dark Knight completely changed the way the Batman comic looked, taking it from campy, colorful bang-pow into dark, gritty 1990s noir-realism. Everything from the gloomy cityscapes to the talking-head television commentators had a profound influence on a whole generation of writers.

Summary of The Dark Knight Returns Storyline