In the late 1980s, buttressed by a black-and-white self-publishing comics boom and the vitality of sophisticated post-underground work like that featured in RAW, mainstream comics got a little gritty: Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns took superheroes and gave them real-world neuroses, positioning them as bullies and brats. It seems obvious now, but that says more about how internalized those artists' deconstructive tics have become to comics storytelling. Soon after, though, everything got grittier and darker, and nowhere was that more apparent than at Image, a company lead by Marvel Comics' rock-star artists Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld. They created their own original characters — who looked like their old characters (only now they would own the rights, not Marvel) — and engorged the men with muscles on top of muscles and afforded the women impossibly skinny waists and disturbingly large breasts, all while paying little attention to storyline. The comics were unreadable and rushed, each page something for teens to hang on their wall and nothing more, but it didn't matter, because they were all adorned with “Ooh shiny” holographic covers and speculating, collector-bait, limited-edition numbering. A true nadir for comic books. B.S.