on March 19, 2012
I often critisized Frank Miller's depiction of Batman. People calling this "one of the greatest Batman Graphic novels of all time" often confused me considering no main villain such as The Joker, Two-Face, The Riddler, Clayface, The Mad Hatter, or Scarecrow was included. Though, after much hesitation I read it. It became apparent to me after a few pages that this truly was a work of art. The text flows beautifully, word after word. Though I do not consider it 'the best' Batman graphic novel, I do hold it in high regard and can safely claim that this is a must buy for any Batman fan.
As usual with great graphic novels, I'm late to the party again.
BATMAN: YEAR ONE is as the title states, the beginning of Batman's origins.
But, and this is a big but, this is also a deep look into the life of Gotham City's new police chief, Gordon, his wife and new baby, the corrupt city he's now charged with policing and the complicated relationship he has with his lieutenant officer.
This is not the kiddie Batman of my youth.
Frank Miller writes in very complex but intriguing terms. The story is understandable by human terms and not supernatural in comic book terms. Batman is equal in terms of his complexity as Gordon and Gotham City is. Bruce is conflicted and tormented by the events of his youth and you see clearly how he fights off his demons.
You also follow how the events of the city and its corrupt officials try desperately to hold on to the mechanisms that keep them in power but puts them at odds with Gordon and subsequently Batman.
The illustrations are one that I'm most relieved with. Having recently read, "The Dark Knight Returns," and being GREATLY disappointed with the illustrative work of Klaus Janson, YEAR ONE has an illustrator who gets it: David Mazzucchelli gets it. (If it weren't for the masterful storytelling of Miller, DARK KNIGHT would have been an epic fail.
This was a perfect collaboration to say the least.
BATMAN: YEAR ONE is a stellar piece of work and most definitely a work of art.
on December 12, 2003
In 1986, maverick comic book writer/artist Frank Miller, took the Batman character to new heights with the groundbreaking story The Dark Knight Returns. The book became an instant classic, often imitated, but never duplicated. Then in 1987, Miller returned to the world of the cowled one with the impressive Batman: Year One. While nothing will ever top TDKR--Year One comes mighty close--and is what Miller's recent and very diappointing sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, should have been modeled after.
The story follows Batman during his first year as protector of Gotham City. As he tries to bring justice to the streets, we also meet police LT. James Gordon, who finds himself battling corruption in the police department. As both men try to come to terms with these challenges, Miller shows us a lot of familiar character traits in both men, while keeping them slightly off balance, unsure what the future holds. Batman struggles with having to maintain a secret identity, while Gordon struggles with decisions he must now make to stay on the job.
Dave Mazzucchelli's artwork compliments Miller's nior style. It also has a grittiness to it, that harkens back to pulp detective comics of the 30's and 40's, of the non superhero variety. It is beautifully rendered Any one of the panels will make one appreciate comic book all the more.
Originally published in single issue format for Batman #404-407, the collected trade paperback has had multiple printings...I for one, am glad it's finally back again after quite a while, as is The Dark Knight Returns, by the way. Miller provides a brief introduction for the 96 page book. Both Year One and the original DKR make for excellent reads (just be sure to skip DK2 at all costs).
on November 20, 2002
Frank Miller will always be best known for The Dark Knight Returns, and many people (myself included) regard Batman: The Killing Joke to be the greatest single Batman story ever. But this is a very close second.
The story begins with recent Gotham City Police Department hiree Jim Gordon arriving for the first time in Gotham. Coincidentally, it is the day that 25 year old multimillionaire Bruce Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of mysterious travel abroad. The story takes us through a year to see how Gordon reacts to corruption and graft in the Police Force, and how Bruce Wayne will become the Batman. It is also told through Gordon's and Wayne's point of view, which was a nice touch. It climaxes when Police Commissioner Loeb orders Batman to be taken down, with a really spectacular ending.
David Mazuchelli's artwork is dynamic and gritty. He draws the Dark Knight and his world beautifully. Frank Miller's words are simply marvelous. I was captured from the first page, and didn't put it down until I had read it.
Overall, this is a great place to start if you're looking to become a Batman fan. The story isn't complicated, but is still riveting. If you don't read this, you're missing out on some of the best comics literature there has ever been. I can't recommend this book enough.
on October 27, 2002
Funny thing-- I was waiting for a copy of Batman: Dark Knight Returns to arrive in the Philippines for about 3 months now, and today I finally bought one. After all, that book is a certified classic. My buddy Lance lent me his copy about a year ago and it totally changed my view on comics; no, it changed my view of Batman. The story, the art, the whole synergy of comic book lore and human force, all in those crisp pages. Frank Miller has got to be a storytelling powerhouse. I've been obsessing about Dark Knight Returns so much that I had my sister buy it in Amazon two months ago, but decided I just couldn't wait any longer and bought it today.
Anyway, right beside DK Returns was a copy of Batman Year One. I was intrigued because I heard about this from my friend who said that he read it and it was good and Darren Aranofsky was set to direct the film version sometime next year. Ok, I got overly curious so I bought the damn thing. In fact, I was halfway out of the mall when I decided, "Hey, now's a great time to concentrate on Ol' Bats, why not?" So I ran back and got the last copy.
I just finished reading Batman Year One. Here's my take: Frank Miller is definitely good. Very unique take on the characters of the comic, i.e. Bruce Wayne's harrowing thirst for justice, Jim Gordon as a true human being, and Gotham City's political and social ennui providing the reader with a relative understanding of the surroundings of Batman. So Year One is a more practical, if not hyperbolical type of comic. On the whole, it's like watching Deep Impact when you could be watching Armageddon. It's the thinking man's Batman. In terms of the storyline, I have to admit there was nothing all too remarkable about Miller's reintroduction of the Dark Knight's origins... Perhaps if we were to talk about Jim Gordon Year One, then this reviewer would be a little more enhtusiastic about it. But hey, I guess we're all human.
On the whole, Batman Year One is still a must have for Batman lovers everywhere. I'd still recommend this book to any weary soul tired of having to put up with a Joel Schumacher-inspired slop shop of a Gotham City. This book IS Gotham City, with all its dirty little secrets gaping at you like a fresh wound.
on April 25, 2002
Another example of a great comic book that definately isn't for kids.
After the success of DARK KNIGHT we saw the sequel BATMAN YEAR ONE. I remember this one flying off the shelves at the comic store when the issues came out.
We see a two new arrivals in Gotham. One a police lieutenant with a bit of a past who finds corruption rampart in the force and a fellow officer who he falls for creating corruption in his marriage.
We also find a rich playboy who thinks he is ready to begin his revenge on the underworld for the lives of his parents, starting with the corrupt police force.
Several things in the Batman mythos are re-written. Gordon is a thirty something cop, Selina Kyle is a hooker instead of a jewel thief, it is a darker and gritter story, more in the genre of the Japaneese style of comics for adults. Considering the direction Miller took daredevil it is no big shock.
It was the second step on the road to comics no longer being something for kids. It was a great story, and a fine plot. The artwork was done well, the style fit the story well, but save it for when the kids hit 15.
on April 16, 2002
Following the time after I read Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", whenever I hear the name "Batman", my mind immediately conjures up a vision of a lonely, troubled, ordinary man who, night by night, uses his detective skills to apprehend the criminals. He moves in the shadows and strikes fear into all those who are guilty and he. Never. Smiles.
Thanks to Miller, comic book writers proceeding after "Dark Knight Returns" have, for the most part, remained true to this vision. "Batman: Year One" is such an example and is truly a seminal body of work in the Batman canon.
"Batman: Year One" introduces us to two main characters, one being the aforementioned Dark Knight and the other being his most trusting friend and ally, (Lieutenant) James Gordon. The story is interwoven between these two men of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne has returned after having spent twelve years abroad with only one thing firmly rooted in his mind: to catch the bad guys. This desire runs parallel to (new cop in town) Gordon's own, in his case with addition to dealing with a corrupt police force.
Which is the beauty of this story. We see two men, one working for the law, and the other outside it, trying to come to terms with what they have to face. Gordon hates his job and corrupt superiors, regrets that his wife is bringing a child into this godforsaken city and has an affair to forget his troubles. Bruce Wayne/Batman on the other hand, has to come to deal with how he can strike fear into the hearts of men and maintain the image of a social elite at the same time. Something tells me they will get the hang of it.
Mazzuchelli's artwork is beautiful. Although I have always been a comic book fan, I've never really cared for the art unless it fails to help the story along. In this case, it does so much more. The art makes me feel totally uneasy with Gotham City, like I'm in Jim Gordon's place. It is perfect.
The most astounding feature of "Batman: Year One" is that it reads like a detective story and not a blockbusting special effects bonanza. Batman has always been a detective first and a "super-hero" second. He doesn't work like Superman, a character with whom comparisons are constant. It reminded me why I like him more than Superman: because he is, to all ends and purposes, only human. Miller keeps him that way which makes this a gritty and thrilling read.
I liked this book because it revived my interest in the Batman. I hear the film will be based on this story - I hope that the final script remains true to the detective aspect of "Batman: Year One", because it works best like that. The last two Batman movies were guilty of making Batman less mysterious. I want the real Batman back and if you read this book, you will too.
on February 21, 2002
Frank Miller's Batman: Year One is without a doubt one of Miller's best stories and arguably the greatest Batman tale ever told. In this series, Frank Miller was given the task of basically re-inventing the Batman character which he did such amazing work on in The Dark Knight Returns. This time, rather than tell of Batman's future, Miller retells the origin of the then 50-year-old comics character. The story is reset in a contemporary ('80s) setting, though the tale retains a timeless feel and overall, the basic story could be set anywhere in the 20th century.
For this story, Miller has stripped Batman of all the wild and crazy additions which he made use of in DKR (and to excess in the sequel DK2.)
It tells the tale of a 25-year-old Bruce Wayne first beginning his career as the Batman. Unlike in the original 1939 comics, James Gordon is younger and still a Lieutenant when the Dark Knight begins his crusade. The story is told from the persective of both good cop Gordon and the outlaw viligante Wayne
and tells how they eventually find they must unite in order to continue their respective battles in a totally corrupt Gotham City.
Young Wayne/Batman is convincingly portrayed as a youthful beginner still learning the ropes of being a superhero. He has not yet become the magnificently crazy force of nature shown in DKR. Gordon is shown as a very human hero who must fight evil in a more normal way. Catwoman is also introduced as a vengeful ex-prostitute.
The story has a noirish feel, and Mazzuchelli's understated but strong drawing looks unimpressive at first glance, but tells the story in a direct, undistracting manner.
I wish there were more Batman tales like this - mature, noir dramas without a lot of silly sci-fi/fantasy gimickry. I hope they are able to get that movie made!
on August 17, 2001
When you think of Batman, you usually think of a bad@$$ crime fighter. An ingenious detective. A man who is perpetually poised and highly skilled.
In Year One, Batman is none of these. Year One is the story of Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman, which also happens to be Jim Gordon's first year on the Gotham Police Force. Gordon, a lowly lieutenant at the time, finds himself and his pregnant wife in a city full of crime, and working in a police force that is full of corruption. The story goes back and forth between Gordon, as he struggles to be a good cop in a bad force and Bruce Wayne as he undertakes the role to be a crimefighter that he has been training so long for.
The most interesting thing about Year One is that here, Batman, who is usually seen as a seasoned veteran and tough as nails, is a rookie. He's uncertain and he makes mistakes. Basically, he's an amateur feeling out his abilities. Also interesting is seeing Gotham city and the police force react to the appearance of the costumed vigilante. Gordon and Batman's paths cross for the first time as Batman targets the corrupt higher-ups running Gotham, and Gordon is ordered to find out who the Bat is and stop him.
Frank Miller carried the story through the two different viewpoints very well. He did a good job writing a young Batman, but I actually enjoyed reading from Gordon's viewpoint more. The art, by David Mazzucchelli is nothing spectacular but it really fits the story.
Overall, Batman: Year One is an excellent piece of work. People who's impressions of Batman are from the horrible, horrible movies should definitely pick it up and get to know one the greatest characters in all fiction.
on August 13, 2001
As someone who read most (almost all) of Millers works, the first thing I have to admit about this book (which collects Batman #404-407) is that this is not the best thing he ever wrote, for "the un-trained eye" (His "Daredevil" run and "Dark Knight Returns were better for that purpose for example). Meaning, the things that happen in this book are great for people who've been Batman fans for a longer period of time (and I mean really good. It sheds a new light on what drives the characters), but for people who aren't that 'loyal' to Batman and who are looking for a story that's a great single story, this is not the best example.
About the story: It's been 12 years since Bruce Wayne's parents were killed and he left Gotham. Now the time has come for him to return to the mansion were he used to live when he was young. Soon sightings will be reported of a man in a batsuit hunting the night, beating up smalltime criminals. On the same airplane is James Gordon, a man who has accepted a job as a lieutenant on the Gotham police force. He soon learns how corrupt the force is in Gotham and what it takes to make it there. Gordon has to show what kind of man he really is. The current commissioner doesn't care about right or wrong, just if there's any profit in it for him. It's up to Gordon and Batman, without knowing they have the same goal, to 'clean up' the city.
Several good things need to be mentioned in my opinion: It's really great to see Batman making errors and screwing up things as that's how it should be with a newbie, to anything. Here he is not portrayed as the Batman who comes to save the day in a heartbeat, but rather as a man who is struggling to become what he is today, by falling and getting up. He's learning from his mistakes. With that it's nice to see that Miller thought of giving him his silver age suit, not the modern one he wears now. That really comes to the good of the 'feel' of the story. What's also very good is that it's not your typical superhero book, but that the main focus is on James Gordon, who is not only the man Batman comes to report to but also a vital point in his crime-fighting carreer. Without Gordon Batman would have never succeeded for all this time, and that gets some much deserved attention here. Over the course of the book we see the two men, Gordon and Batman, grow towards each other and starting to understand and accept that they both need each other. A little minor point I have to make is the art by Mazzucchelli. Don't get me wrong because it's not bad. It tells the story sufficiently, is clear and expresses the mood how it should. Only when compared to his previous work on Daredevil it comes off a little bleak. Next to that my only 'complaint' (for lack of a better word) is that, like I said, it's mainly great for people who've known the character Batman for a longer period of time and now want to see how it all came to what it is today. For people who aren't that up-to-date it's a good story, but not really exceptional (better get "Dark Knight Returns" or "The Long Halloween" in that case). All-in-all not a bad choice to get.