The mid to late 1980's was a great time to be a college-age comic book fan. Comic book publishers, especially DC Comics, seemed to be open to a more mature, cutting-edge style of storytelling...and since I was also entering the "world of grown-ups" myself, the timing couldn't have been better. At the age when most comic book fans typically toss aside their childhood collections, this new (and much darker) brand of superhero comics kept me around and kept me interested for years to come. One of this new breed of comics was Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns (1986), which presented a decidedly R-rated reimagining of a retirement-age Batman and the brutal alternate future he lives in.
Unfortunately, my enjoyment of Dark Knight seems to have dimmed over the past couple of decades. Maybe it's because Miller's cynical, borderline psychotic vision of Batman has been largely the "norm" for Batman comics ever since...which (for me) has long since worn out its welcome. Or maybe it's because Frank Miller's creative bag of tricks has become so familiar, in some ways so cliched, that Dark Knight no longer packs the visceral punch it once did.
However, there are still a few moments within Dark Knight that manage to knock me out some two decades later. For those of you who know who my favorite character is, it shouldn't be a surprise that one of those moments involves Superman. Now, let me make it clear that, on the whole, I didn't enjoy Frank Miller's portrayal of Superman as little more than the obedient lapdog of a dimwitted U.S. President (Reagan caricature #4,578), but in this particular sequence, Miller gave the cynicism a rest and served up a memorable, truly heroic vision of the Man of Steel (click on the panels for a larger view).