Batman Year One is a perfect example of an origin story done right for a character. It not only explores Batman’s story but plenty of other Batman characters such as Jim Gordon and Catwoman. The most important part of this story however is Gotham and it’s corruption and injustice in its early years. Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli did a spectacular job of making an origin story that not only works for the character but exceeds it. This is as much Jim Gordon’s story as it is the caped crusader’s as it explores both of their early years of crime-fighting and soon meeting to become an unbreakable bond.
The book was a limited story arc in the series DC Comics’ Batman issue 404 thru 407 in 1981. It was a revamped start of the character that was set as DC’s restarting point, making new origin stories for heroes such as Wonder Woman and Superman. The reason DC decided this was mostly because their universe was a mess, after Crisis of Infinite Earths DC was still having a hard time keeping their characters in check and making sure that they won’t have to revamp them again. Then they did in Legends in 1986 which did keep them in line for a good decade or two, till New 52. Anyways, Batman Year One is an exhilarating story to World’s Greatest Detective that it produces an animated film feature, Batman Year One in 2011 from the directing minds of Lauren Montgomery and Sam Lieu. The character of Batman is a well known inspirational figure but what about the minds of the people who helped him get to such great lengths?
BEHIND THE AUTHORS
Frank Miller began his comic career in the late ’70s starting on the Twilight Zone based on the hit television series. He then joined the two major comic publishing titans, DC and Marvel. He was a returning writer for the Daredevil series with his big story of Daredevil: Born Again (1986), where Daredevil’s identity has been revealed by the Kingpin in a pleasantly well structured story. He did Batman The Dark Knight Returns (1986), Wolverine, Ronan (1987), and finally Batman Year One. Post Year One he did Sin City (1991-2000), 300 (1998), All-Star Batman and Robin (2005-2008), and wrote screenplays for the RoboCop series. Frank Miller is a Comic Book Legend for his works as most of them hit the big screen like 300, Sin City, and Batman The Dark Knight Returns. While most people consider Frank Miller a cranky old man, He gave us plenty of stories that we can revisit and study for their works of art.
David Muzzecheli on the other hand, received his Bachelor of Fine arts at Rhode Island, he began working on Comics in the early ’80s and paired up with Frank Miller on Daredevil Born Again, they paired up again with Batman Year One. Muzzecheli then in his later career did City of Glass (2004), Rubber Blanket (1991-1993), then in 2009, he did the groundbreaking Asterios Polyp. He won awards such as the 2009 1A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Graphic Novel Award, Morning Manga Fellowship, and 2 MIT Awards for Asterios Polyp. He is known as an amazing Graphic Novel artist of our time and was a big key point in the art style behind Batman Year One. Without both of these Brilliant Authors, we wouldn’t have gotten a look at Batman Year One and its ingenious story line.
SYNOPSIS OF BATMAN YEAR ONE
Batman Year One is a complex story as it shows not only Batman’s first year as the crime-fighter but also Jim Gordon’s as they both overshadow each other in two different story lines. Jim Gordon’s story line is centered around his first year as a lieutenant in GCPD trying to clean up the crooked cops of the city with their big boss, Commissioner Loeb. Batman’s story line centers around him trying to find his identity as the bat, why he’s doing what he’s doing, and his first major year as the Vigilante.
Bruce Wayne comes back home from 12 years of training in the martial arts, detective work, and science for his long journey as the batman. At the same time, Jim Gordon moves into Gotham with his pregnant wife Barbara, after leaving Chicago. Jim Gordon first meets Detective Flass, the symbol of the corruption in Gotham who later during a patrol with commissioner Gordon beats up a kid just for fun. Bruce Wayne then patrols the streets and then encounters Holly, a young prostitute trying to seduce Bruce but failing horribly. Bruce then engages in a fight with her boss that ends in the cops showing up and shooting Bruce in the leg. Bruce then awakens merely dazed and confused in a patrol car. Bruce snaps his handcuffs in half and crashes the car into a massive fireball luckily saving the two officers. He makes it to the manor barely alive bleeding everywhere. He pondered how he could strike fear into the hearts of the criminals and then remembers his fear of bats as one bashes his window and perches on a statue, He knew what he had to become. He had to become a bat.
Jim Gordon is shown as very heroic in trying to purge the corruption in the GCPD, but he catches the eyes of Commissioner Loeb. Loeb then gave orders to Flass and several other officers to beat him, with Flass personally threatening his pregnant wife Barbara. In recovery, Jim Gordon decided to get revenge on Flass by beating him up in the middle of the forest, taking his clothes off and handcuffing him in the snow, Ultimately humiliating him. Jim Gordon does many heroic acts gaining a reputation from the media as a courageous officer. The first sighting of the Batman is revealed from a fight in a fire escape against three thugs, then preventing a drug deal from Flass and finally humiliating Falcone at his dinner party. This leads many officers on the case of the trivial vigilante by Commissioner Loeb. Even though he is now most wanted, Batman goes after the crime boss Carmine Falcone, dumping his car in a river and stripping him naked and tying him up in his bed, humiliating the Roman.
Batman makes a great relationship with Harvey Dent, the district attorney who is confronted by Detective Essen and Lieutenant Gordon. Essen believed that Bruce Wayne has some ties with Batman but the case goes nowhere. GCPD detective Essen and Gordon witness Batman save an old lady from a rampaging truck, later Essen holds Batman at gunpoint while Gordon becomes concussive. Batman disarms Essen and runs into an abandoned building scheduled for demolition. Loeb bombs the building and starts the climactic battle of the novel where Batman outsmarts a swat team in a fiery building with a group of bats. Catwoman, after witnessing the Batman in this fight, is also shown in this book in the latter half where she sees that she could make a killing off of the rich in Gotham but turns out Batman takes the credit of all the heists through the media blaming him for their similar costumes.
Gordon begins a mild affair with Essen, while Batman investigates Falcone’s men for information. Gordon keeps looking into the batman which leads Loeb to blackmail Gordon by threatening to tell his wife about the affair. Gordon and his wife go to Wayne Manor to investigate Bruce Wayne which indeed leads nowhere, later in the car on the way out, Gordon confesses about the affair to his wife. Batman goes to Falcone’s manor, hearing them transfer information on how to deal with Gordon, but is interrupted by Catwoman trying to attack Falcone to build her reputation but is assisted by Batman against Falcone’s bodyguards. Identifying Falcone’s plan, Bruce takes his costume off to go help in the broad daylight against Falcone’s men.
Gordon leaves his home to go to work feeling suspicious in his efforts. Gordon sees a motorcycle heading to his building’s garage where his wife and child are being held hostage by Falcone’s men. Jim saves his wife but the gang leaves with the child. Jim chases them while Bruce gets on his motorcycle telling Barbara in the garage that he’ll save the child no matter what. They race to the bridge where the child is dropped to the bottom of the bridge. Jim jumps to try to save him but Bruce is the one who safely grabs the baby mid-air and saves him. Jim, partially blind without his glasses, tells the man, Bruce, to leave before the cops come, luckily gains Gordon’s trust. At the end of the book, Loeb is sent to jail for his corrupt dealings with Falcone and many crime organizations, While Gordon is promoted to commissioner he builds a signal for the batman as he tells him that somebody is threatening Gotham Reservoir called the Joker.
MY THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSION
This Novel, in my opinion, is a great take on the origin of the character as it gives us a fleshed out storytelling to any newcomers on how Batman started. However, I feel that Jim Gordon’s relationship with Batman should’ve been made stronger. In many other takes of the story where Jim is a hardened cop in Gotham who comforts Bruce after his parent’s death which makes for a much stronger relationship for the two. I feel that if they included this there would be a much stronger bond with both of them. This book is an extremely grounded story with mutuality surrounding the characters. While it’s a little bland it makes up for that with exciting battle sequences and personal relationships with the characters. I believe that this novel, Batman Year One is a solid 8/10
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