As the balance of economic and political power seismically shifted in the 1980s, mainstream comics began to explore increasingly ominous themes. Psychologically complex heroes struggle within seemingly real or recognizable situations. In these fictional worlds, layered ambiguous images, messages, and ideas are conveyed; in its own unique tone each communicates its own jaded socio-political commentary.
Watchmen and V for Vendetta, written by British author Alan Moore, featured their protagonists as powerful, independent vigilantes operating in socially and politically corrupt or dystopian settings, working less against individual enemies than against the oppressive constructs and regimes of their societies. Out of Japan came Akira (1980), an analogous tale of rebellion and revenge against a government’s gruesome experiments in post WWIII Neo-Tokyo. The millennial Naruto, Bleach, and Death Note are set in morally ambiguous territory and unflinchingly reveal their protagonists’ inner demons. Partie de Chasse (1982) converges past and present bloodbaths taking place within a Polish hunting lodge, while real-life reportage uncovers war atrocities in Afghanistan in the 2009 The Photographer.