Wednesday, May 5, 2010

CBR Batman: Year One

And here's my very first comic book review on this blog!
I've picked up a cult favorite of mine for this one, so it would be a easy one to write about : P
I'll try picking up underrated great stuff and more mainstream ones as well.
You can also ask me comics to check for ya or to suggest!

Anyhow, let's start our look into...

Comic title: Batman: Year One
Written by Frank Miller
Art by David Mazzucchelli
Colors by Richmond Lewis

Published by DC Comics
From 1987
Lineup Batman
Format: Trade paperback containing Batman issues #404-407

First, a brief recap of the situation of DC comics at the time of it's publication.
DC comics (and most old comic book publishers after that many years) had became quite a complicated mess, in terms of story/continuity/canon by the 80s.
You have to understand that such characters as Batman and Superman had been written for many decades, since the 2nd World War at least! By many different artists and writers and some even different publishers (old pulp comic characters had been bought and rewritten be it by Marvel or DC, the last standing long running publishers).
Superman for example had many different interpretations from his original creation by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the late 30s to his first DC runs under different pens. He first was the man of tomorrow, a super heroic American with the ability to jump very high and be quite powerful with no further details on his origins. Then later on became the last son of Krypton, with more powers. And his laser-eyes, freezy breath and flight abilities came on as the time passed.
What his described as the golden age of comics, was the classic era of comics that followed after WW2, where super heroes really grew up on popularity, thanks to the patriotism spirit following those dark times.
Super heroes drew up from classic pulp heroes such as Tarzan and Zorro.
Then, with the cold war, the race to space and changes in beliefs, the comics went a lot more scifi, new generations of characters were introduced with "modern twists" (example: a new Green Lantern and Flash, based on the original ones, were created with a new focus on science fiction instead of magic/alchemy).
That time, the silver age, kept some older characters like Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, but reimagined them.
Finally, by the 80s, most readers were a new generation who couldn't just keep on track all past previous incarnations of these character, so instead of doing it like Marvel Comics, keeping a very long continuity in check (even if it makes characters like Captain America and Nick Fury with a pretty ambiguous backstory), DC decided to restart everything from zero. With a big crossover named Crisis on Infinite Earths, all characters would be rebooted during the 80s, making brand new stories fresh from start (or continuing publications and supposedly taking time during the 90s).

Thus was created BATMAN YEAR ONE.

Now's the actual review, if you jumped the part above.

Batman Year one was written by Frank Miller.
Frank Miller is a...very mixed writer in my eyes...
He's most of the time an insane writer, making crazy stories, about over the top character.
That's what he does best, but that also why I don't really like reading his stuff (at least, not from start to finish, so your brain can take a breath).
He's the guy who wrote the great DARK KNIGHT RETURNS & STRIKES AGAIN. Dark/twisted stories about a bad future where Batman his crazy.
It kinda makes you dense, even a bit retarded or something to read his goddamn' books.
But they're fun! And kinda mindless. It's like running through a glass... A goddamn'piece of glass.
He's also the author of the goddamn' 300 and All Star Batman And Robin.
And he even tried to direct a goddamn' live version of the Spirit.

But this is written by a good Frank Miller! It's very rare and unique. Kinda like when he used to write Daredevil, a long time ago (you know, the stories where Elektra met DD, Elektra died, Bullseye was everywhere and ninjas were running lose in NY City)

The plot here is about Gotham city drowning under crime, corrupt police everywhere and the mob running everything.
It's Batman in his debut, the story of how Bruce Wayne died on the same night of his parents and how Batman came to be!

The original Dynamic Duo was actually a Trio.

The story is written like how Batman was supposed to be, how he was when Bob Kane created him.
A great detective/noir story.
It's well divided by its main characters, Batman at his debut, district attorney Harvey Dent and detective Jim Gordon.
The story also places the seeds of the future expert Batman (he's only starting in this story, learning how to be a better detective and working on being a formidable opponent for criminals), future lunatic Two Face/Harvey Dent (his personality in danger) and Gordon becoming the commissioner we all know today!

There's also a subplot around the end of the classical era (of pulp comics) with the fall of the mobster and the rise of the super-powered costumed freaks (super hero comics) with the first apparition of Catwoman and hint at the Joker. Neat!

Thus, the cat and the bat started chasing each other's butt : P

The work Mazzucchelli & Lewis did visually is just stunning!
It has that distinct classic look, but it works splendid for Batman.
For my paperback reprint, it was even recolored (the version you'll probably find nowadays) .
It also has a nice introduction by Denny O'Neil and some great making of stuff like sketches and covers at the end.

It's definitively one of my all time Bat-classics.
A fantastic re-readable tale of how the Batman came to be.
One of Frank Miller's best books (come on, did his editor write for him or what?? we will never know...)
It tells us the origins of many key player Bat-characters such as Gordon, Two Face, Catwoman...

The artwork is fantastic, pretty dynamic and really stand out around mainstream comics from that era (unlike X-men or Teen Titans, which I like but are more "classic" of the 80s/early 90s for example).

This book is really one of a kind and only some rare attempts really recaptured this wonderful noir world of Gotham City.
I may make a review of the following early Batman stories if SOMEONE asks for it!

Overall, it's a really unique graphic novel, a cult classic.
It was used as basis of Nolan's Batman Begins movie, be it in Bruce Wayne path to Batman or Gotham City reign under criminal influence.
A great comic, may you be a casual comic book reader or just interested Batman.

For all those facts, this is one of the very few "perfect" comic works in my heart...

I give it:
 3 / 3 Plastic-trophies!


  1. Definitely one of my top favourite comics, as well as to whoever else I lent it to.
    Funny how I don't remember Harvey Dent in this story. I just remember him more so in The Long Halloween, though.

  2. Oh, but the basis of the Long Halloween plot is all in Year one already! (since LH was written as some kind of follow up to YO)

    Harvey is fully present in year one!

    One a separate note: you were afraid my blog-reviews wouldn't keep the drawings like the dA reviews did. Finally, is it okay the way I do these reviews? What d'you think? (in this or the Star Wars review, enough drawings? not enough?)

    And what d'you think of my ratings? I try to have many different kinds such as the Plastic-trophy in this review :P

  3. The amount of drawings are fine. A good compromise of them and writing would be all good.
    And I like the trophies here. They always amuse me!