BATMAN: YEAR ONE
Writer: Frank Miller
Art: David Mazzucchelli
WHAT IS IT?
Batman. Before the gadgets, just starting out. Think later than the Gotham TV show, but more down-to-earth than Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. It’s also a Commissioner Gordon comic in a really big way, as he’s just starting out on the force in Gotham City (so, in that way, it’s a little TV-show-Gotham-y).
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? (Minor Spoilers)
This comic takes place when Bruce Wayne first decides to come back to Gotham City and beat up bad guys, and when James Gordon first joins the police force in Gotham. It covers their first year in the city.
It’s about a 50/50 split across these two characters, with a lot of the weight of storytelling carried by internal monologues from Bruce or Gordon in Frank Miller’s signature style. Bruce’s narrative is focused on learning how to be The Batman – what scares bad guys, how to fight better, and who’s trustworthy in this town of criminals. Gordon’s is much more personal, balancing a familial relationship he isn’t ready for with trying to be the only good cop in a city filled with corruption.
In the end, it’s basically the story of how Batman and Gordon came to have the relationship they do: because, by the time they met, they were the only people in the city each of them could trust.
You really don’t need to know much about Batman before reading this
The line art is on the cleaner side and feels like it’s more about setting the scene than capturing every detail (see the image below for an example)
There’s an interesting balance in the story’s tone and emotion: a lot of the time, the characters will tell us their feelings in this detached, masculine way, but the color of the panel or page betrays how they actually feel
If you’re into Batman for noir-style storytelling, emotion and character development, this book is for you
It’s really cool seeing these characters just starting out, and watching as their relationship forms organically
Even with few action sequences and no small amount of narration, this one’s a page-turner
It’s the perfect comic if you want to start reading Batman (but also rewards longtime fans)
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
If you’re into Batman for the gadgets, fights or specific bad guys, you might want to skip this one
The book doesn’t feel the MOST Frank Miller-y of his books, but if you’re really against his style, this might not be for you.
As mentioned earlier, a LOT of this book is about Gordon – good to know if you’re going in expecting it ONLY to be about Batman
It was almost adapted to become a feature film directed by Darren Aronofsky, but Warner Bros. ended up making Batman Begins instead
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Look, there’s a reason this is the first DC book I’m covering. It tells a complete story in an interesting and heartfelt way, and it’s the perfect jumping-on point for anyone interested in reading Batman.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Miller, Janson & Varley
Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper by Cindy Newell
Sin City by Frank Miller
If you like the art:
Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Matthew Rosenberg & Tyler Boss
Hawkeye by Matt Fraction & David Aja
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Frank Miller – Writer
Name Recognition: This guy is one of the big names in comics, in no small part due to his signature noir/inner monologue writing style and his work on comics like 300, Daredevil, Batman & Sin City
Award Winner: Won a ton of awards for his work on Sin City and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, as well as other works
Multitalented: Has also done cover art and pencils & inks for comics, as well as some directing for film
David Mazzucchelli – Art
Dream Team: Married to Richmond Lewis, who colored Batman: Year One
Teaches cartooning and comic book storytelling at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan
Multitalented: Later wrote several independent comics and did illustrations for magazines and other publications
Richmond Lewis – Colors
Dream Team: Married to David Mazzucchelli, who was the artist on Batman: Year One
Multitalented: Worked primarily as a painter
Todd Klein – Letters
Award Winner: Since starting out in comics over 40 years ago, he has won many, many awards
Has created over 100 of his own fonts
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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