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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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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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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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“Batman: Year One” is a graphic novel by Frank Miller (from 1987), depicting the origin story of the Dark Knight. This is a well-written tale, and the art work is also of high quality. It’s a serious, violent and – for the most part – unhappy story. Yet this graphic novel is also a fascinating and emotional adventure, and I thoroughly recommend it to adult fans of Batman.

The story concerns the return of Bruce Wayne to Gotham City, after training abroad for 12 years, now ready and prepared to wage his one-man war on crime. At the same time, police officer James Gordon and his pregnant wife move to Gotham. The story follows these two main protagonists.

Wayne initially goes out in disguise, and gets caught-up in a crime scene – only barely managing to survive. After returning to his mansion, he sits and ponders his actions … when a bat crashes through the window. Inspired by the bat, so Batman is truly born. Meanwhile, Gordon is seeking to rid the police of corruption – resulting in several other officers attacking him, and threating his wife. Yet Gordon refuses to give in, and stands up to the corrupt cops.

Over time, both Batman and Gordon start making names for themselves – and crime and corruption in Gotham is in decline. It is now that Gordon becomes interested in arresting the vigilante crime fighter. Unfortunately, the villains get evidence that Gordon has had an affair – and they seek to use this against him. But Batman gets involved … and, in the final showdown, the Dark Knight rescues Gordon’s infant child, with Gordon himself deciding not to arrest the vigilante.

This is intended to be the adventures of Batman during his first year as the caped crusader – hence the title. It’s a dark, foreboding, and highly realistic portrayal of Batman. This deluxe paperback edition comes with plenty of ‘bonus’ features – including conceptual art work and an introduction.
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on 11 March 2016
To me, Batman is kinda like Pizza. By which I mean that even bad pizza is still pretty good.

But for me, the best Batman is written by Miller. Maybe it's because I like his writing style, or maybe it's because his fairly dark writing style really suits Batman.

Or it could just be that the very first comic I read as adult was Dark Night Returns. That's the comic that made me realize that comics weren't just a bunch of silly bulls*** stories for kids.

Whatever the reason, this comic is in that fine Frank Miller style. Showing Batman and Gordon at the beginning of their lives. Both of them making mistakes. Both of them learning about their city. Both of them paying for their mistakes....

Yeah. If you're into Batman and you haven't read this one, you're missing out. You should try it
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on 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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on 24 October 2011
My boyfriend has been haranguing me for ages to read a graphic novel: he's something of a connoisseur, I'm a comic virgin. He recommended 'Year One' to me as a classic of the genre.

I have to admit I was a bit baffled by it all. The graphic novel is a form I just don't get!

The story seemed fragmented, more as if I was coming to it having missed the beginning. To me it also ended mid-stream, just as the narrative was getting interesting. The whole Selina strand was completely undeveloped, like the start of a story that's forgotten. I was also surprised how much Gordon dominated things.

Which brings me to Batman himself. As a fan of the film 'Batman Begins' - and given this is Year One, i.e. the origin of it all - I thought there would be a lot more substance to his backstory. But it's all quite thin and unengaging. In fact, one of my criticisms is how many gaps there are in the story telling. I assume this is intentional and as the reader you're supposed to fill these in - but I felt a bit cheated.

I don't know enough about the artwork to comment on it (though Monsieur DLR tells me it's some of the best).

So overall how was my first graphic novel experience? It was OK (hence 3 stars) I'd certainly try another but I can't say it thrilled me. Sorry to all the fans and 5 star reviewers out there. Like I said: I just don't understand the form.
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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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on 4 July 2015
I've long been a fan of Batman, having grown up with the Adam West TV show and the comic book stories of the seventies and eighties, to the Tim Burton movies of the late eighties/early nineties, and more recently the Christopher Nolan reboots of the franchise on movie screens. Through every incarnation, I've always considered him one of the better superheroes, even though technically he's not super and arguably he may not even be a hero in the truest sense. However, there's always been something about the character that's just made me see him as simply 'better' than the rest of the ever-expanding pantheon of superheroes and vigilante crime-fighters.

Year One was a late eighties reboot of the character following DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, penned by veteran writer Frank Miller (who had previously given us an older Batman in The Dark Knight Returns) and drawn by the excellent David Mazzuchelli, and as a result it gives us a fresh look at Batman's origin story and suggested a slightly different take on his development as the dark knight and the start of his burgeoning relationship between himself and James Gordon. As is typical of Miller's work, this is a grittier and darker story than earlier readers would have been familiar with, and has since gone on to be considered almost seminal by Batman fans.

As an origin story, this book gives us plenty of opportunities to see Batman stumble, though by the end of the story he's most definitely found his feet as Gotham's unofficial protector. There's also the obligatory run-ins between Batman and the police, especially Jim Gordon (who is just a lowly detective in this one), and the fact that most of those police are just as corrupt as the villains they're supposed to be working against makes for some interesting (and explosive) action throughout. By the end of the story Batman's not only delivered a crushing blow to the city's organised crime syndicates but has also helped Gordon begin the slow process of cleaning house at the Gotham Police Department.

While it could be argued that Miller can (and regularly is) unkind to his female characters (Selina Kyle is relegated from her role as an accomplished cat burglar to a side-role as a prostitute), that doesn't entirely detract from the fact that this is a fun and enjoyable book, and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who's even mildly interested in Batman's early days in Gotham City.
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on 13 May 2015
Having read this book multiple times with both my fan boy head on and my critical head on I still struggle to find negatives in this book. Solid, dark and detailed story telling with realism perfectly blended into the genre. All the characters are interesting and some carrying real emotional baggage that they deal with over the course of the year. Batman is portrayed perfectly being a dark, disciplined vigilante slowly testing and developing himself sculpting the batman persona around the city and what his ideals are.
None of this oh no the riddler has drowned the city and a huge bone monsters is walking around killing people with wacky monster serum while the joker.. Sorry red hood gang is planning to destroy the city while batman swans around spitting at people and swearing (Batman zero year). Snyders zero year has nothing on this novel at all. Year one is recognised world wide as the real batman origin story and rightly so. It's shows a humanised batman dealing with real human city crime and human corruption. Utterly believable and relatable to some extent. I could sing this book praises all day.
The only one negative I can possibly think of is Alfred. He doesn't have a very big part to play at all. It would have been good to have the relationship between him and Bruce explored more.
Overall 10/10, what a batman comic book should be is gritty and with traces of realism and a believable plot.
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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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