Sridhar Reddy's Reviews > Batman: Year One

Batman by Frank Miller
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Sep 08, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novels

Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's take on the origins of Batman and the development of Bruce Wayne has to be considered one of the great comic book masterpieces of all time, belonging with the ranks of Watchmen and Miller's own The Dark Knight Returns.

Miller is a specialist of the internal monologue, and he breaks the narrative of this all-to-familiar story into two perspectives; the first of a young Bruce Wayne, haunted by the death of his parents, and the second of Jim Gordon, new to the Gotham Police force and facing a city rife with immorality and corruption.

Miller firmly entrenches both men within the gray, and humanizes them by allowing them to make multitudes of mistakes as they find their feet and their place in the world. Their imperfections are what makes them complete men, and each works extremely hard in the face of daunting odds to become better citizens(by their own definition).

The flawless writing is complemented by David Mazzucchelli's impeccable art, which manages to be exceptionally detailed but loose enough to flow like a gauzy, 70s era crime film. The shadows are heavy with thick, globular patches of black and Mazzucchelli's style lends an intimacy that befits Miller's introspective writing style.

The story is highlighted by one of the greatest sequences in modern comics, which is the cornering of the Batman into a dilapidated tenement, where he is ferreted out by a ruthless SWAT team with a political agenda. The segment is expertly paced and illustrated, and is rife with tension and a palpable, claustrophobic dread. Mazzucchelli's environment is wholly complete and rendered with an expert hand - I couldn't imagine this sequence drawn by any other hand than his, at least as effectively. The sequence is a flawless segment in a book that has to be regarded as a masterpiece of sequential storytelling.

I originally read the story when it was published as single issues and recently revisited them, and the story and art has not dated or faded, infact in light of Christopher Nolan's excellent treatment of the origins of Batman on film, Year One emerges stronger than ever, giving insights into the deeper relationship between Wayne and Gordon, and each of their relationship to the city that confounds and challenges them. An amazing read, and a must not only for fans of Batman, but of masterful storytelling overall. Highest recommendation.
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