Book Review: Batman: Year One

Growing up comic books never really impressed me all that much. I couldn’t really relate to people with super powers. I read Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Spiderman, and Captain America from time to time, but none of them ever held my interest for very long.

In fact, I had just about given up on comic books at around age 9 when I finally found a character that I could relate to. I understood the protagonist of this book, even at my age. I could relate to the sheer rage and need for vengeance that Bruce Wayne felt as he stood over the bodies of dead parents. I was able to put myself in his place, and understand what would drive this boy to become the Dark Knight of Gotham City.

My first “real” experience with Bruce Wayne was the first of four (Batman #404-408) issues that would ultimately become the graphic novel “Batman: Year One.”

“Batman: Year One” begins on a dingy graffiti covered train platform as we are introduced to one Gotham City’s greatest champions; Lt James (Jim) Gordon. A promising young detective, Jim quickly becomes embroiled in the darkness eating away at the heart of this once great city.

Across town, to the thrill of the paparazzi, Bruce Wayne, the prodigal son, returns home after years spent abroad studying. Bruce has spent the years away preparing him to fulfill a promise he made to dead parents. A promise he was finally ready to keep; the dark promise of vengeance that will change Gotham City forever.

The first battle in Wayne’s war against corruption and crime nearly leaves him dying on the floor of his mansion, beaten and battered. In what could be the final moments of his life, Bruce finally sees the great flaw in plan. To be successful, he must become something more than a man, something that can exploit the fear in the hearts of men. He chooses the ultimate of night predators; he chooses to become a bat.

Mazzuccelli’s artwork is subversive; its not over-the-top artwork and by no means distracts the reader’s attention away from Miller’s story. Each panel conveys the gritty harshness of a Gotham City infested with the corruption with a subtle perfection that one rarely notices while reading. The artwork is simply another aspect of Miller’s overall story, as it should be.

Essentially an original story, “Batman: Year One” is a must read for anyone who even has a modest interest in the “cape crusader”. Miller’s compelling story handles the myths of Batman with a level of maturity that is rarely seen in comic books. The artwork in this book is hands down some of the finest I have ever seen.

It is also worth noting that DC Comics is planning to release a deluxe edition of this book in April, as a precursor to the release of the movie “Batman Begins.”

“Batman: Year One” is available in stores and via Amazon, watch out for more info on the deluxe edition shortly.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.