In 1986 the definitive darker Batman hit the comics stands, created, written and drawn by Frank Miller. We're introduced to a murderous Gotham City and that's made worse by The Batman's retirement.
The TPB (trade paperback) is well put together. The Frank Miller introduction sets the story for the reader; it's an article by a James Olsen on the Truth to Power. About the now-gone man of steel and an Amazon princess, of the times and tribulations of the nation's heroes. But not of the Batman. Did he retire or think the city was just not worth it?
Book I is interesting how Miller pictures the media. The media becomes the main focus in a large part of the tale. Not always telling the truth (of course), shallow and sensational. Reported is a gang of mutants who were part of a "brutal slaying." A death threat on the door of James Gordon, police commissioner. And the tenth anniversary of the last reporting sighting of the Batman and his one-man war on crime.
Gordon, mugged. Harvey Dent released from Arkham (home for the emotionally untroubled). Again the criticism of the media and the "politically correct" language -- if we called it an insane asylum, would we really be offended?
Getting into Books two and three: Batman resurfaces and again the media chatter about his reappearance on the Gotham scene. Entertaining scene with the back & forth between commentators.
Book Three gets more into Batman's return with a female Robin. The media step in: Batman, guilty of child endangerment? Superman: "Nothing matters to you than your holy war -- and I get to save lives and the media stays quiet and they'll hunt us down again, because of you."
Book Four gets even more into the anti-hero, do we really need 'em theme, with the shocking title: The Dark Knight Falls. The ending is particularly interesting -- a new gang or team of Batmen and women, training by Bruce Wayne for the salvation of the city. Can it happen? Will he be successful.
Another cool thing about the TPB is the alternate script. Miller was actually going to end this tale differently than what eventually hit the publishers and newsstands. And the great cover art of the original four books grace the ending.
No, comics are not just for kids anymore and this could be the book that started the trend.
Check it out.