Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is an instant classic that many credit with the series’ fame. This critically acclaimed masterpiece is famed for a reason. This installment defined Batman, Bruce Wayne and his beginnings as we know him today and laid the foundation for the modern Batman and Batman stories. Published back in 1987 (the year I was born), the comic is a little dated but still an amazing must-read for all comic book fans.
Illustrated by David Mazzacchelli, Batman: Year One definitely has an older vibe to it. Although I find the artwork a bit aged, it is that retro, classic look that many comic fans love! The cover art and dramatic quotes were awesome as well. For its time, it was certainly well done, it just is a bit lackluster when you are reading back on it now. What I can say is that the plot makes up for this tenfold!
Year One collects Batman #404-#407.
|Book Name||Year One|
|Book Series||Limited Series|
|Edition Reviewed||Collected Edition|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
Batman: Year One Review
Batman #404: Who I am, How I come to be
This comic was published shortly after Dark Knight Returns, capturing the interests of fans everywhere interested about the origin of their favorited caped crusader. The comic brings up right back to the beginning where we follow the tragic billionaire as he enters the world as the dark knight.
Bruce Wayne has just completed his intensive training for the last 12 years and has returned a 25-year-old bachelor that is ready to return to Gotham City. This is also the time when James Gordan gets transferred to Gotham from Chicago where he becomes immediately aware of the city’s violent activities and police corruption. There is even a scene rather early on where Gordan sees his partner attacking and African-American kid for entertainment.
Of course, with Jim Gordon being Gordon, he tries his best to fight for justice and do what is right. Ultimately, he pays a pretty hefty price for his courage and even his pregnant wife gets threatened. It is easy to see why Gordon, out of everybody on the force, ends up siding with Batman. This is also a great look into his origin into Gotham city. This police corruption is all too real and I think a very great portrayal. Especially in the political climate of today, this could be a great read for somebody and an efficient (although fictional) demonstration of how police corruption can form and effect a city.
Bruce Wayne himself encounters early conflicts when he ends up fighting with an aggressive pimp and a group of prostitutes (two of which happen to be Holly Robinson and Selina Kyle). After an epic escape from handcuffs (and making sure officers were safe), Bruce makes his way back to his mansion where he confronts a bust of his dead father about what he should do about the war on crime. At that moment, a bat crashes through the window, landing right on the bust and inspiring Bruce to take the identity of a bat. There are a lot of different Batman origins, but I personally really like this rendition. The early involvement of the catwoman group is also a nice touch, knowing how things end up going full circle. I also think it is sweet that this version ties a direct connection into how his father influenced the decision to become the bat.
Batman #405: War is Declared
If there is one thing that has remained rather consistent among Batman comics throughout the years, it is that the franchise is not a fan of guns. The chapter actually opens right up with a little criticism about guns. This is the chapter where we actually see the Batman in action. Cape and all.
I really enjoy Jim and Barbara Gordon’s (his wife, not his daughter) interaction as he gets the fated call that will change the course of the career. While she is a rather funny character to begin with, I love the Superman joke she made as well as his reaction to hearing about a “giant bat” wreaking havoc.
His opening fight scene is rather memorable as well. Miller rather organically slipped in how Batman would not be a killer. Even showing early in the incredible lengths he would go to save a life -even if it was undeserved. As brings everyone from small-time thieves to the corrupt 1% to justice,
I think this chapter is a great introduction on how batman will go about fighting crime as well as his relationship with the police force. The fight scenes are very good and I think certain scenes were expertly portrayed. While they may seem like nothing groundbreaking looking at today’s comics, you have to really understand that this was the really pioneering installment that started it all.
The entire plot had me at the edge of my toes the entire time. There is so much going on. Enough to keep you engrossed, but there is never a point where it is too much to follow. I get that this is the whole point of a “corrupt justice system,” but one of the points that got be so emotionally involved was how much they were trying to stop the vigilante. Like, all of the sudden they care about keeping assaults and crime off the streets? Because we all know how great and resourceful Batman is, you know things are about to get awesome as he is cornered by the police.
Batman #406: Black Dawn
“They’ve got him CORNERED.
They’ve got him OUTNUMBERED.
They’ve got him TRAPPED.
They’re in TORUBLE….”
Bruce has a lot to recover from with where the last chapter left off. A burning building, collapsing beams, and an entire swat force will really spell out trouble for our caped crusader. While we have seen him encounter some bigger battles, but this is an early battle. Although he is well trained, he is still relatively inexperienced and it was interesting to see how things turn out.
Batman’s run in with the police was kind of predictable but awesome none the less. Bruce Wayne is as cunning as ever when he takes down countless criminals. I was also excited to see Selina and Holly make another appearance. Those who did not recognize the characters earlier on are now able to tell they are more than just some side characters. It doesn’t take long after Batman’s awesome escape before Selina decides to put on a mask as well.
Overall, I found that this chapter was much more focused on character development and personal problems than anything else. This chapter leaves a lot of loose ties as you enter into Chapter four.
Batman #407: Friend in Need
The title pretty much gives it all away. Batman can’t do it alone and he’s going to need someone on the inside. As anyone familiar with Batman (or has been paying attention to the comic thus far) knows, that guys going to be Gordon. Still, they start out with a long way to go.
With lots of personal issues on the side and a city tormented by crime, there is a lot to follow (but again, it’s not overly complicated). There are a lot of key moments in this chapter. I’ll leave some parts out for spoilers sake if you want to read and enjoy the unpredictable elements of this comic, but this chapter included the funniest scene in the Batman comics.
Bruce Wayne trying to act like an irresponsible billionaire is easily one of my favorite scenes in this whole book. Batman is none for his cold demeanor and serious tone, so seeing him acting like a perverted, rich boy is comical. It was also great to get an extended glimpse of Alfred while we were at it. It is also at that moment when you realize like, he is only 25. In a way, this is a much more probable behavior for it and it really makes you think about what could have been.
Additionally, I continue to appreciate the superman references that everyone seems to be making. Especially when you consider how they tend to clash as comic book characters, it is funny that they constantly compare him to the man of steel. There were just so many exciting moments around this chapter that made it a fun and enjoyable end to a revolutionary comic.
In the final moments of the chapter when Gordon indirectly acknowledges his relationship with batman as well as mentions the Joker, you know that there is a lot more excitement where this came from! This rendition of course continues on in other installments.
Overall, this comic is an easy 5/5. Even beyond the realm of the comic universe, it is easily one of the most enjoyable pieces of literature I have ever read. The classic comic book style may be a little dull in the beginning, but it grows on you and adds an extra dose of nostalgia with this beloved franchise. Additionally, the very content is a great reflection of what comic book fans enjoy themselves. It had a little bit of everything -comic relief, strategy, action, and an awesome plot.
For Batman fans, it offers an excellent origin story that has laid out the atmosphere of Batman universe for generations. This can also be a great read if you are someone looking to get into Batman or even comics altogether. It is a great example of starter comic that can really introduce someone to the genre. I would highly recommend this book to just about everyone.
Batman: Year One Gallery
Last update on 2018-03-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API