Gone are the days when comics used to be targeted only towards a specific demographic- comics for kids. Comic companies in USA kept churning out series after series meant to be read mostly by kids. Famous Funnies was a comic magazine published in the 1930’s, considered by many as the very 1st true comic book in history. More followed, and for the next several decades, comics stuck to their light and happy go lucky tone. Even the superhero comics of those times like Superman, Batman and Spiderman used to feature heavily toned down stories that parents could give their children to read and pass their time. The exception to this practice was EC, the infamous comic company of the 40’s which came up with a horror comic book line which broke all the boundaries in regards to the demographic. The comic books EC published were filled with blood, gore and grisly murder scenes to name a few. This line was forced to stop by the newly formed Comics Code Authority in 1950’s and everything came back to exactly how it was before.
In 1986, Frank Miller wrote one of the most important books of all time, “The Dark Knight Returns”, and completely changed the way people used to look at comic books. The 4 issue miniseries chronicled the adventures of Batman in a futuristic setting, where he has been forced to come out of retirement and even confronts Superman at one point, who now works under the Government.
The comic series was completely different from any comic book ever produced in the past in that it painted a dark and realistic picture of the city, Batman/Superman and the villains. The story relied on heavily worded panels with a good chunk of panels being dedicated to the TV media reporters delivering the daily reports, to further the ongoing story contained within the comic book.
The series gained worldwide recognition instantly and is considered today as one of the most influential comic books ever created. It opened the doors for DC as well as other publishers to come up with dark and gritty storylines that didn’t shy away from presenting a disturbed and ‘close to reality’ scenario in their comic books.
If it hadn’t been for this comic book, we probably wouldn’t have been able to witness instances like the Joker brutally crippling Barbara Gordon, Green Lantern as the 1st major gay superhero, and tons of other stories where writers dared to push the boundaries as far as they possibly could.