Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a four-issue comic book limited series written and drawn by Frank Miller, originally published by DC Comics under the title Batman: The Dark Knight in 1986. When the issues were released in a collected edition later that year, the story title for the first issue was applied to the series as a whole. The Dark Knight Returns tells the story of a middle-aged Batman who comes out of retirement to fight crime, only to face opposition from the Gotham City police force and the United States government. A sequel (made again by Miller), The Dark Knight Strikes Again, was published in 2001.
The Dark Knight Returns is set in a dystopian near-future version of Gotham City. A year is never specified, though it has been a full decade since the last reported sighting of Batman, the current American President appears to be Ronald Reagan or someone using his image, and the Cold War is still ongoing. Virtually all superheroes, with the exception of Superman, have been forced into retirement or otherwise driven away by a distrusting populace. Bruce Wayne has voluntarily retired from crime fighting following the death (under unspecified circumstances) of Jason Todd, the second Robin. In the absence of superheroes, criminals run amok, and a gang called the Mutants terrorizes Gotham City.
The return of an old enemy prompts a now 55-year-old Wayne to don the Batman costume once again. Despite Wayne's funding his rehabilitation, including plastic surgery to restore his half-disfigured face, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent has seemingly returned to crime. Batman apprehends Dent, but the populace debates whether Batman's brand of vigilantism has any place in society. The media plays a large role in DKR, with the narrative broken up by news reports and "talking head" editorials debating events in the story as they unfold.