The cover to BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller is a classic, but for all the right reasons. Here, more than in any comic book cover produced before this point, strong design and typography lead the way. This image is designed to feel far more like a book cover than a comic book cover, as befits the kind of story that Miller was trying to tell inside.
The image is simple and graphic, but powerful, as the silhouette of Batman tells us as much as we need to know, and the bolt of lightning cracking across the night sky, illuminating him, makes his appearance an event. Even the identifying DC “bullet” is relatively tiny, and relegated to the very bottom of the piece.
This one changed how people thought about comic book covers.