I’m currently on my journey to finish a chronological Batman story, and where best to start than Year One? Issue #404 changed the entertainment world forever and helped pushed comic books into more serious adult territory. The days of the campy Adam West “Kapows!” and “Whams!” are gone. Comics needed to grow up and mature, and I for one don’t like comics from the Golden/Silver Age, and I can barely stand any from the Bronze Age. Frank Miller took it upon himself to change the world forever.
Frank Miller and team were taking the three most iconic DC characters at the time, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and tried transforming their backstories and consolidating everything into a reboot for the new age. Batman’s was one of the only ones that stayed the same. Year One perfectly tells Batman’s origins in just four issues. Think about that for a second. You understand why Bruce wants to protect Gotham, why Detective Gordan is a good soul that becomes hardened from the City and brings in the first two villains into this new world. Dr. Hugo Strange and The Roman.
Year One made such an impact for a reason. It inspired all of the movies and games that came after. The dark and grungy city of Gotham. Endlessly tall buildings, dirt, grime, filth, and constantly dark somehow with no sunshine. Prostitution, drugs, sex, and gore. It’s all here for the world to see in the late 80s. This wasn’t a comic book for the kiddies anymore. The only other character that’s introduced into this new reboot is Catwoman and we get to see how she started out as Catwoman as well. This is so well written and the pacing is perfect. By the end of Year One, you are set up for literally any arc to come and that takes real skill and talent to do.
My only grip on the comic is the poor use of the font. The cursive can be really hard to read sometimes and of course, the art itself has aged. This was all hand drawn before digital art was really a thing so it looks rough in some shots. There are some iconic panels with Batman seen with just his silhouette and white eyes. I loved every shot of Gotham itself and there was a good amount of action and talking scenes. There’s the constant switching between Gordan and Batman and the scenes change so much that you don’t get bored. This is a page-turner for sure.
In the end, if you want to start reading Batman comics this is the perfect place to start. It’s when Batman got serious and when the comic industry got serious with their iconic characters. Even if you think you know Batman’s origins you don’t know it in this kind of detail.