Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Batman: Year One" Review

Strong Beginnings




I recently re-read Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's collection of four issue run titled "Batman: Year One," and was instantly reminded of why it might be my favorite Batman origin story of all time.

This book was a big inspiration for the "Batman Begins" film that came out in 2005, so being a fan of that representation I was very drawn to the mood and atmosphere that "Year One" utilizes. It starts with Bruce Wayne's humble beginnings as Batman, showing the difficulties of being a masked vigilante with a pledge not to take a life. This pledge nearly gets him killed on one of his first nights as the Caped Crusader, when a group of young thugs on a fire escape nearly kill him while he tries to save one of them from falling off.

The story arc itself, on a much broader scale, has to do with Batman establishing himself as a force against the mob and corruption in Gotham City. There are no supervillains present in the four issues, though there is a very famous and strategically placed playing card scene that was used at the end of "Batman Begins." The main villains are some of the corrupted police officers that Lt. Gordon himself is trying to take down.

Gordon is another reason that I think this text really separated itself from other Batman stories. In most Batman comics or films that I've seen, Gordon has been often portrayed as the cop who just hands everything over to Batman without thinking twice. In "Year One," Gordon is just as interested in unmasking the Dark Knight as the villains are. In fact, proving that his detective skills are much more honed in this version, his first suspect is Bruce Wayne. How's that for risky take on an old plot?

Overall the short four issue run gives a good glimpse into an original take on the Dark Knight's origins, and it effectively leaves the reader wanting more. The only drawback I can see from the text is the limited involvement with Selina Kyle, which could have been dropped from the text or maybe expanded upon.

That being said, Miller's writing and Mazzucchelli's art are top notch. Especially the throwback character designs and outfit that The Batman wears - a classic gray and black affair with a simple solid bat symbol.

If you're just getting into Batman or are looking to revisit his origins, this is a wonderful place to start.

A little tidbit to add is that DC Universe's animation company is planning to do an adaptation of the graphic novel, which hopefully will be released soon.

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