Special thanks to World 1-1‘s Kyle for sending in our first guest review. He’s got 2 more on the way and if you enjoyed this you should check out his site either via the link here or on the blogroll to the right of the page. The opinion’s expressed here and this entire review is the work of Kyle Hogg.
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: David Mazzucchelli
Publisher: DC Comics
After writing one of the best comic book stories and (arguably) the best Batman book ever, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller turned the tables and write Batman: Year One. Year One is practically the opposite of The Dark Knight Returns. While in TDKR, Bruce Wayne has retired the mantle of Batman and is in his final days, Batman: Year One takes us all the way back to the beginning in Frank Miller’s retelling of the Batman origin. How does it stack up to other Batman books? And does it live up to Frank Miller’s legendary legacy?
Batman: Year One follows the first year of Batman in Gotham City and Jim Gordan’s first year in the GCPD. The book is split about equally between Bruce Wayne stories and Gordan stories.
The parts of Batman: Year One that follow Jim Gordan are about Jim Gordan and his first year after moving to Gotham City and joining the police force there. He comes to find just how corrupt Gotham really is. All the police are bought out by the mob and innocent people, enemies of mob bosses no doubt, are prosecuted while rapists and killers are barely punished, as long as they have ties to the mob. Gordan is one of the few uncorrupted cops and he polices the city with justice and the law on his mind.
As for the Batman segments, we get a retelling of the original origin. We get to see Batman’s first inspiration in becoming a bat and his first days as a “masked vigilante” fighting crime. It may not star the Joker, Two-Face, or Robin, and Batman may not do battle to villains such as Poison Ivy, the Penguin and the Riddler, but we do get to see Batman’s first days in which the public is awed by his doings and the mob and police force are out to get him. Though we do get a somewhat brief origin story of Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in her early days of a prostitute and later a cat burglar.
Frank Miller does a phenomenal job in writing the story of Batman’s first days and the beginnings of Gordan’s and Waynes relationship. In the beginning we see Gordan and the rest of the GCPD hunting down Batman, laying traps for him and trying to arrest the masked hero. Later on into the book we see some events that carve the future of Batman, Jim Gordan, and Gotham City.
Frank Miller is by far the definitive Batman writer. He’s a masterful storyteller. Each line of dialogue and every scene is written with such skill that you don’t find in most other comics, nor movies or any other form of media.
Akin to Miller’s penmanship, David Mazzucchelli’s artwork is great. His art goes along with the story and action perfectly, each page flowing almost flawlessly. His darker tone and less detailed art that focuses more on shadows and expressions rather than the finest detail fit Gotham well. The art’s gritty and fast when it needs to be. Mazzucchelli portrays every scene excellently.
There’s no doubt about it, Frank Miller is not only one of the best comic book writers, he’s definitely the best Batman writer, with two of the greatest Batman books, Year One and The Dark Knight Returns under his belt. Batman: Year One is a must have to any Batman fan, anyone looking to get into comics, or anyone just looking for a stellar read.
Overall: 9.8/10 (Extraordinary. A must read.)
The Writing: 9.8/10 (Millar’s a masterful storyteller, as is evident here.)
Artwork: 9.6/10 (Year One’s art portrays Batman and Gotham very well.)
Entertainment Value: 9.9/10 (A thrilling ride through Batman’s first days that is beautifully pulled off.)