Evan Leach's Reviews > Batman: Year One

Batman by Frank Miller
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Aug 05, 12

bookshelves: 1980-1989, comics, dc
Read in August, 2012

25 years later, Frank Miller’s Year One is still the definitive origin story for modern-day Batman.

img: Batman

In 1987, DC Comics decided Batman was due for a reboot after 48 years. They chose Frank Miller, whose superb standalone story Batman: The Dark Knight Returns had enjoyed both commercial and critical success, to do the honors. Just as he had done in The Dark Knight, Miller presented a grittier version of Batman and his world. Gotham City is a true hellhole when Bruce Wayne returns after years away. Eager to clean up the streets and exorcise some demons from his past, Wayne becomes a vigilante, eventually disguising himself as the Batman. Not only street criminals get the business, but dirty cops and corrupt politicians too, earning Batman the enmity of those in power. By the end of Year One, Gotham is…well it’s still pretty much a hellhole, but some of its worst citizens have tasted justice. Year One spends nearly as much time on Jim Gordon as it does on Wayne, outlining his rise from a rookie officer to Captain. Gordon initially views Batman as a common vigilante, but by the end of the year has begun to see him as an ally.

At under 150 pages, Year One doesn’t describe Batman’s first year on the job in minute detail. A lot is left in the dark, to be filled in later by series like Legends of the Dark Knight. But Miller nailed the tone that would influence future Batman stories and movies. Christopher Nolan’s movie trilogy, particularly Batman Begins, were clearly influenced by this story (it borrows one famous scene nearly wholesale: (view spoiler)).

Lord knows that DC has tweaked and retconned the history of their heroes over the years, but this story has endured. Not only has it been very influential, many people think it is the best Batman story ever written. While it’s not my personal number one, it’s easy to see why this book gets as much love as it does. Great writing, great art, great ending. 4.5 stars, highly recommended.
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