Wherein Heritage Invites the Dork Knights Over to See Frank Miller's Original Dark Knight

From time to time, Heritage Auction Galleries' public relations director Noah Fleisher extends us the invite to walk across Oak Lawn Ave. to sneak a peek at some of the latest items on the auction block. It's hard to say no when every nook and cranny of that high-rise is packed with some $100,000 treasure lying around on someone's desk like a TPS report. Like, say, today's tour bait: a never-before-offered original Frank Miller splash page from 1986's The Dark Knight Returns, among the most influential comic books in the history of ink.

Barry Sandoval, director of operations for Heritage's Comics operation, won't say too much about where it came from -- only that it belonged to some private collector in Europe who procured the piece shortly after the issue (No. 3, to be specific) hit the stands. "And he held on to it ever since," says Fleisher, who sent the press release earlier this afternoon in which Todd Hignite, consignment director for Comic & Illustration Art, calls the piece "definitive" and "a masterpiece." So much so two Observer staffers -- art director Alexander Flores and web editor Nick Rallo -- took their photos with the illustration. Nerds.

The other Batman you see at right, incidentally, dates back to a 1982 Miller signing at Lone Star Comics' original location on Forest Lane. Belongs to a former local. Though it could be yours for, oh, maybe $3,000 or $4,000 when both pieces for up for sale in May at Heritage's New York City outpost. That's Sandoval's guesstimate. And how much will the Dark Knight piece go for?

Says Sandoval, who's seen in a photo on the other side, "Oh, $100,000. Easily."