Title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Vitals: In a dystopian future, an aging Bruce Wayne decides to pull on the cape one last time, to cope with mutant gutter-punks and a super-depraved Joker. But when Superman decides to shut down Batman's comeback, Bruce decides it's time to fight dirty.
Famous names: Frank Miller, Lynn Varley
Crunchy goodness: 4
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.
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.