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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2006
Although Frank Miller is better known for the like of comic book classics like Sin City or The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One has got to be his best. Miller completely redefined Batman for a new generation, and yet again completely de-camped the character to being so grim and gritty that it is hard to imagine that he was ever treated like a joke. The story follows Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham after a 12 year abscence, and Jim Gordon arriving there as a Lieutenant. Gotham city has become a place owned by crime, depression, and corruption. While Jim Gordon discovers that he is one of the only honest cops around, Bruce Wayne realises that he is one of the only honest citiznes around. After as distarous first attempt to fight crime, Bruce learns that he must use fear in a city like this, and so becomes the Batman.
Although Batman: Year One could be considered more a Gordon book than a Batman one, when Batman appears every time it is amazing. Miller manages to once again take Batman, change him, and make him so much better. An absolute classic.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
First off: This review is only for comic book noobs, like myself!

I was recommended 2 comics to start me off on the road of comic reading, The Watchmen and Batman: Year One (due to the Batman Begins film being loosely based around this book). I read Batman first as it's much shorter, and wow, I feel like I've missed out on another world all these years! I was really suprised that the film was glammed up in comparison to at least this comic. It's very dark and Gotham really is messed up!

I almost couldn't put it down. The art work was great to look at and told a lot of the story that wasn't told in writing. I'm not sure if all comics are this clever, but I was impressed with the subtle story telling of the artwork.

Anyway, I was pretty sure that I'd not like comic books, but having read this one, I'm very excited to start The Watchmen, and have ordered a few more Batman novels to get my teeth sunk into. So well recommended for the first time reader I'd say as it's not too fantastical as some of the stuff I browsed over in the comic book store!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 September 2013
You know the classics of literature - War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Middlemarch? There are aspects to them to appreciate and patient readers can be rewarded greatly with those books. But let's be honest - most of us view classics as a bit of a chore. But what about classic comics? Kind of the same thing, but not for so many. Some classic comics, Marvel and DC especially, are tough to read because the stories from the 40s and 50s are so badly written and cheesy, and the art is hit or miss, though most of them possess a guileless charm to them that makes them easier to stomach. When it comes to comics, no character stands taller than Batman, and no Batman book has more of a reputation than Year One. Is it a chore to read? No. Has it aged poorly? Not even a bit. Does it deserve it's title as a true bona fide classic? (Austin Powers voice) Yeah, baby!

Year One is Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli's retelling of Batman's origin and through their retelling they set the tone and standard for all other Batman books that followed. A 25 year old Bruce Wayne returns to a nightmarish Gotham City riddled with crime at the same time as an older but still young James Gordon, recently transferred to the GCPD and entering Gotham City for the first time. Both men have a clear mission: to clean up the streets of crime and make Gotham habitable for decent, hardworking folks.

Some readers have wondered why Gordon gets as much space - maybe more - as Bruce Wayne in this book and the answer is simple: they're both two sides of the same coin. The very first Batman story opens with Bruce and Jim sitting, talking about crime, and Jim is arguably Batman's best friend. Batman's origin would tie in with Gordon's as their lives will be linked forever once they dig their heels in and bring justice to Gotham.

It's been a few years since I read Year One and I really hoped it would hold up - and it did. Whatever your feelings are about Frank Miller today (and he has unfortunately gone from genius writer to crackpot old man), his work in the 80s ranks amongst the best the comics medium has ever produced, and Year One is arguably the pinnacle of that work. He went from telling the last Batman story ever with The Dark Knight Returns to, with his next book, going back to the very beginning and telling the first Batman story ever - and both are masterpieces.

In just four issues, we see Bruce get into his first fight as an unmasked vigilante, to realising he must don a disguise, to the famous "Yes. Father. I will become a bat" scene, to his fledgling first missions to clear up corrupt police, mob bosses, and the iconic dinner party scene where he appears to Gotham's most powerful and evil to inform them they have eaten well but from now on none of them are safe. And the scene when Batman takes down the SWAT team? Brilliant. Still tense, exciting, and fantastic to read.

It's a testament to Miller's writing that he's able to take Gordon, who for many is little more than a one-note background character, and makes you care about him as much as you do Batman. Gordon becomes Gotham's first non-corrupt officer, fighting his own colleagues (literally and figuratively) to uphold the law and become better than the criminals they chase, while his wife is pregnant with James Jr. (see Batman: The Black Mirror for what happened to James Jr. when he grew up) and the stresses of the job leading to him make some bad decisions.

We also meet Selina Kyle for the first time, working as a dominatrix in Gotham's red light district, as she decides to become her own costumed character, Catwoman, after first seeing Batman. Mazzuchelli's art in this book is flawless but my one criticism of the book is Catwoman's outfit - I hate the whiskers and tail! What use are either to a cat burglar? And it just looks stupid.

Anyway, Year One is a must-read for all Batman fans - as if you didn't already know! Everyone who has even a cursory knowledge of Batman comics knows Year One is one of the first to read. And it is - but it's also one to re-read and come back to again and again because there are a LOT of Batman books, but few of such high quality as Year One. A great beginning for the Dark Knight and the man who would be Commissioner. Just don't read Year Two!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 June 2013
This story - `Batman: Year One' - was published in Batman issues #404-407 in 1986, where I first read it, back in the day. It is not a `new' origin story, but an expansion on the events surrounding the beginning of the Bat-Man's career, as on January 4 (as date-stamped on the first panel), we meet Lieutenant James Gordon on the train into Gotham, wishing he's taken the plane, just as Bruce Wayne is flying in to Gotham, thinking that he should have taken the train... The final panel is date-stamped December 3, closing off the first year, and the establishing of the Batman in Gotham. The story flows smoothly, and apparently continuously through the four issues, so you don't feel the passage of time, as the date-stamping means that we can skip over the `down time', keeping up the impetus, avoiding the sitting around waiting for wounds to heal, gathering intelligence, having a bat fly through the window, the wearing of a costume, and building up the Batman's street cred. We just see the key points, as it were. Overt the year, James Gordon takes on the corrupt police, Harvey Dent takes on the crooks, and Bruce Wayne learns the lessons that help him build up the Batman myth, aiding the other two as he goes along, and eventually establishing the lasting relationships with those two characters. We also see Selina Kyle establish the Catwoman identity in imitation of the Batman, and the last panel has Captain James Gordon, on the roof of Police HQ, waiting for `a friend' to help out with somebody who has threatened to poison Gotham's reservoir - "calls himself the Joker" (which, by the way, leads into Ed Brubaker's `Year Two' story, Batman The Man Who Laughs TP (Joker).


Batman #404: "Who I am. How I come to be" shows us Lt. Gordon discovering the corruption in the police force, Bruce Wayne making his first `reconnaissance' in disguise on to the streets of Gotham, and engaging in his first vigilante act, only to discover that, as with carnival folk, an outsider who interferes is an enemy to all - including Selena Kyle, who gets her first punch in the mouth from Bruce in the altercation. Bruce also gets his first bullet from the police, who are operating a `shoot first and you don't need to ask any questions' policy. Bruce makes his way home, passing Gordon on his way to his first vigilante act against his fellow officers... Bruce sits at home in the dark, bleeding out and waiting for a sign, which comes through the window just in time...

Batman #405: "War is Declared" - one month later, and Gordon becomes a public hero by freeing a hostage from a loony escaped from Arkham, before the SWAT team can be unleashed and kill everyone. The `powers that be' start to become concerned... especially when a `giant bat' starts a vigilante campaign, ending in an attack on the mayor's mansion and threat to the assembled power brokers. Gordon is tasked with bringing the Bat in; he thinks someone is tipping the Bat off about his plans; we meet Harvey Dent, Assistant DA ... Eventually, Gordon and the Bat's paths cross as they both try to prevent an accident. The SWAT team track the wounded Batman into a building and prepare to attack...

Batman #406: "Black Dawn" sees then SWAT team unleash mayhem on the abandoned building in which the Batman has been driven, killing anyone who gets in the way. Eventually, batman uses a high-tech device to summon a flock of bats to cover his escape. After trying to following up on the event, Gordon starts to realise just who the bad guys are...

Batman #407: "Friend in Need" - Harvey Dent and Batman concoct a scheme to flush out the crooked cops; Gordon suspects something is going on, but is threatened with blackmail over his affair with his sergeant - a female detective, I hasten to add, just in case Dr Wertham is looking down on us. Selina Kyle, who has donned the Catwoman costume, is becoming annoyed that the media is blaming her exploits on the Batman. They run into each other when they both raid `Roman' Falcone's home. Batman manages to overhear the Falcone's plotting something before Selina disturbs them, and eventually works out that Gordon's family might be in danger, just as Gordon reaches the same conclusion... Bruce in civilian guise - "Shall I fetch your tights?" - "Never during the day, Alfred" - rescues Gordon's son while Gordon tackled the kidnapper: "you know, I'm practically blind without my glasses"... Dent takes down the Commissioner, Gordon gets promoted, and the last panel has Captain James Gordon, on the roof of Police HQ, waiting for `a friend' to help out with somebody who has threatened to poison Gotham's reservoir - "calls himself the Joker"...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2012
If Batman really existed would he spend all of his time hanging out in bushes waiting for the occasional mugger, or go after the real criminals? The criminals who wreck people's lives behind the respectability of a uniform, suit, career path and pension plan? This book answers that simple question in the only way that it could possibly be answered, even though so many other comic book writers fail to even comprehend it. So we get no scenes of Batman chasing bank robbers. No scenes of Batman chasing crazy serial killers, and no scenes of Batman helping pretty damsels in distress. Instead we get Batman dealing with corrupt cops, politicians and the businessmen who pay for their services rendered. How refreshing to see criminality portrayed as it actually is for a change. Quick notes on other aspects of the book. There's no problems with style over substance here. The artwork is unobtrusive and fits with the narrative flow very well, complimenting but never distracting from the story that is being told. Frank Miller has obviously lived a little, and he knows how the world really works. There's no bad guys, just selfish jerks who enjoy using their positions of authority to screw people over. These people don't have tattoos and belong to motorcycle gangs. They aren't weird loners who can't get a girlfriend and so want revenge on the world. They are 'respectable' career goons who enjoy killing you with a smile and official seal of approval. Buy this book now. Nice one Frank.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2003
The other reviewers have done a fine job touting Frank Miller's skills and so I won't waste time going over that again. If you haven't done so already buy this book and his "The Dark Knight Returns". Read them both as they respectively mark the beginning and end of the Batman. Though, bearing that in mind you don't have to read them in that order (though I would), as Frank Miller did write "Year One" after "Dark Knight".
What needs to be said is how good David Mazzucchelli's artwork is. Frank is a damn good penciller but his inks though atmospheric are a bit scratchy. Mazzuccchelli's was the right choice as his lines are much strong. Batman looks like a guy in a suit and when we are rethinking Batman in ultra-realistic mode, that is just the feel that is needed.
In short, buy it. I used to read standard Batman comics and enjoyed them. It wasn't until I read Frank Miller and Alan Moore (see "The Killing Joke") that I really recognised the character for who he is: the most important entity in American comic fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2004
It's January 4th, and Gotham City witness two arrivals: the arrival of Lieutenant James Gordan, and the return of millionaire Bruce Wayne. Wayne and Gordon both see that Gotham needs to be cleaned up, but each has his own ideas of how it should be done. While Gordon begins his cleaning under the eyes of the press, Bruce Wayne assumes the identity of a bat and begins cleaning up the city under the cover of darkness. But, with the two working from such very different angles, confrontation is inevitable, and out of the confrontation comes...friendship?
This book was published in 1988, containing BATMAN #404-407 (1987). The quality of the illustrations is a bit lower than one has come to expect from more recent graphic novels, but the fact is that the story is excellent and makes the whole book a great buy! As with the stories of the Golden Age comic books, this story pits Batman against an array of regular bad guys, rather than super-powerful super-villains (although the genesis of Catwoman is included!), which I rather enjoyed! Overall, I found this to be a great introduction to Batman, one that keeps up the excellent tradition. I highly recommend this book!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2004
Following the time after I read Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", whenever I hear the name "Batman", my mind immediately conjures up a vision of a lonely, troubled, ordinary man who, night by night, uses his detective skills to apprehend the criminals. He moves in the shadows and strikes fear into all those who are guilty and he. Never. Smiles.
Thanks to Miller, comic book writers proceeding after "Dark Knight Returns" have, for the most part, remained true to this vision. "Batman: Year One" is such an example and is truly a seminal body of work in the Batman canon.
"Batman: Year One" introduces us to two main characters, one being the aforementioned Dark Knight and the other being his most trusting friend and ally, (Lieutenant) James Gordon. The story is interwoven between these two men of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne has returned after having spent twelve years abroad with only one thing firmly rooted in his mind: to catch the bad guys. This desire runs parallel to (new cop in town) Gordon's own, in his case with addition to dealing with a corrupt police force.
Which is the beauty of this story. We see two men, one working for the law, and the other outside it, trying to come to terms with what they have to face. Gordon hates his job and corrupt superiors, regrets that his wife is bringing a child into this godforsaken city and has an affair to forget his troubles. Bruce Wayne/Batman on the other hand, has to come to deal with how he can strike fear into the hearts of men and maintain the image of a social elite at the same time. Something tells me they will get the hang of it.
Mazzuchelli's artwork is beautiful. Although I have always been a comic book fan, I've never really cared for the art unless it fails to help the story along. In this case, it does so much more. The art makes me feel totally uneasy with Gotham City, like I'm in Jim Gordon's place. It is perfect.
The most astounding feature of "Batman: Year One" is that it reads like a detective story and not a blockbusting special effects bonanza. Batman has always been a detective first and a "super-hero" second. He doesn't work like Superman, a character with whom comparisons are constant. It reminded me why I like him more than Superman: because he is, to all ends and purposes, only human. Miller keeps him that way which makes this a gritty and thrilling read.
I liked this book because it revived my interest in the Batman. I hear the film will be based on some elements of this story - I hope that the final script remains true to the detective aspect of "Batman: Year One", because it works best like that. The last two Batman movies were guilty of making Batman less mysterious. I want the real Batman back and if you read this book, you will too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2014
Considering we've had two massive Batman screen incarnations in the form of Michael Keaton and Christina Bale since this was first issued, Batman Year One stands the test of time as an excellent telling of aspects of the origin of Batman.

It has the added dimension of paralleling Wayne's journey with Jim Gordon's arrival in Gotham, which is just as interesting and revealing a story as Batman's and lays the tracks of their future working relationship.

I found an even more enjoyable story in this volume is that of Selina Kyle and her birth as Catwoman as reaction to the appearance of Batman, which is always something intriguing to touch on in Batman lore - whether his very existence is responsible for the creation of many in his vogue's gallery.

This is a great read, with beautiful art, and is definitely a great gift for those looking for an accessible volume into Batman comics.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2001
Frank Miller's stunning tale of an young Bruce Wayne's first attempts to dispense justice in the dark and seedy streets of Gotham City. Along with the startlingly compelling account of a Batman who is not quite the highly skilled vigilante that he will one day become, is a sub-plot that bri ngs a young James Gordon (Lieutenant Gordon at this point in time...) to Gotham, a James Gordon who is willing to bend the rules to see justice served...
Characterisation is second to none, with possibly the most well rounded characters I have ever seen in the medium, and the art brings a neo-noir feel with washed out colours reflecting the cloudy morality on display. In short, this is an awesome companion piece to Miller's more highly regarded classic, The Dark Knight Returns, an exceptional tribute to the Dark Knight that lurks within us all...
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