The Dark Knight will return – to the auction block. In their Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction on June 16-19, 2022, Heritage will offer Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 original cover art. The striking image of the black-shaped Batman leaping across the cover over a crackling lightning bolt is regarded amongst the most iconic Modern Age covers.

“This cover to the first issue of the revolutionary story is easily one of the most famous comic book covers from any era, as well as the single most resonant image from the series,” Heritage Vice President Todd Hignite said. “It defined the entire superhero genre from the 1980s to this very moment, not only in comics but in the broader culture. Such a widely reproduced, instantly recognizable and transcendent image speaks to generations. I can’t think of a more important piece of comic art to have ever come to auction.”

The Dark Knight Returns four-part epic began in February 1986. The brutal and gritty story stars a grizzled, 50-year-old Bruce Wayne who retired as Batman and has witnessed the city become overrun by mutant gangs, Russian rockets fill the skies, and the Joker and Two-Face are one foot out of Arkham Asylum.

“That was a real favorite of mine,” Miller said about the cover. “It was nearly a silhouette. I love doing covers, and I love conjuring iconic imagery. It’s just a fun challenge.”

Miller came to the final version after the first book was written, drawn, and with inker Klaus Janson. “In the case of the lightning bolt, that really was a bolt out of the blue,” Miller said. “That was a moment of inspiration.”