Batman: Year One is a Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli story of Batman’s origins. I bought the deluxe version a few weeks ago and utterly adore the story and it’s artwork. Many will be familiar with the story through it’s use as the basis for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. This book is a collection of four comics released in 1987 and they are as well received by me now as they were by critics 24 years ago.
The book contains two stories in parallel; Bruce Wayne’s development into Batman and introducing Lieutenant James Gordon to the city of Gotham.
Bruce Wayne to Batman
Most people will know the origin of Batman. After watching his parents murdered before him as a boy whilst walking through the back streets of Gotham, Bruce Wayne vows to avenge their deaths by taking on the criminals of the city. Bruce Wayne’s return to the city after 12 years travelling and learning the necessary skills and techniques to take his fight to the criminals is met with the expected steep learning curve required to become a hero.
Batman’s resolve is strengthened as he tries to exert fear and control over he’s opponents as the story progresses and there is a nice sub plot as Selina Kyle is introduced, moving from prostitute to threatening criminal.
Frank Miller’s story coupled with David Mazzuchelli’s artwork help to fill in the gaps between his return to Gotham and Batman’s emergence as the “Caped Crusader” of Gotham.
Lieutenant James Gordon
James Gordon is introduced as he first enters the city with his heavily pregnant wife. The story unfolds as he too must impress his qualities as an honest cop in the murky waters of Gotham’s finest. His own development and treatment by his colleagues forces his and Batman’s paths to cross and Gordon to go to new depths to protect his family and his career.
The story cross over can occasionally take some re-reading but that depends on the concentration of the reader. It’s not an overly long book with a lot taken up by concept and storyboard art but the commentary by Mazzuchelli is particularly interesting to read.
The art appeals less to me than the work on the new 52 Detective Comics series but that’s personal preference, it’s is still very well drawn and coloured excellently.
Overall it is a great introduction to the Batman story for beginners as well as an eye opening overview of Gordon’s introduction to the city and Batman’s struggle in the early days. I would highly recommend it.