134 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2005
Batman is a character I've always enjoyed, but I've only recently started getting into the Batman comics. After reading Frank Miller's exceptional "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel, I really wanted to acquire more Batman comics that depicted the characters in a similar manner: as deep, well-thought-out characters that you really feel emotionally attached to by the end of the story. The problem was that, being new to comics, I was tossed into a sea of nearly endless Batman comics, and I didn't really know where to begin.
Well, where better to start than at the very beginning?
Batman: Year One is the story of Batman's first year in Gotham City after returning from training abroad, making it the perfect book for someone unfamiliar with Batman's origins, or just looking for a fresh take on the classic story. But the book is as much about the origins of Jim Gordon, who will later become the famed police commissioner of Gotham City, as it is about Batman's beginning. The story hinges on Gordon's attempts to clean up a police force that is corrupt to its very core, and his encounters with the Batman that finally lead up to a climactic confrontation that brings both men together in their fight against crime.
Firse of all, the packaging and presentation of the story is top-notch. The book is hard bound and comes with a very nice partial sleeve that makes it look very classy. The cover itself depicts a simple black and white drawing of Batman that is quite effective for portraying what the book is about. Each chapter of the story opens with the origin comic book cover from each issue, and they are very vivid and clean. There are many extras, from an amusing illustrated afterword by the artist, David Mazzuccelli, and many pages of preliminary and promotional artwork. In the end, I felt that some of these features could have probably been dropped in favor of a slightly lower price tag, but they are nice additions that give the book a more "deluxe edition" feel.
The artwork in the story is very good. I really like David Mazzuccelli's style. He's really not entirely different from Miller himself in that his artwork isn't terribly elaborate, but is supremely effective in telling a story. Mazzuccelli really has a strength when it comes to facial expressions. You can really see how the characters feel by the looks on their faces, particularly in the more emotional spots of the book. The backgrounds and characters are beautiful, though, and the colors are very nice and vivid. The artwork brilliantly aids in telling the dark story of Batman's birth and Gordon's struggles.
The storyline is nothing short of superb as well. I've held Frank Miller in high regard ever since reading "The Dark Knight Returns", and this book is written in a very similar style. You can tell that Miller really likes using internal monologues to convey the thoughts and feelings of the characters, and they are very effective and give the story a depth that other comics don't have. The story progresses logically and is very readable. It's a great retelling of the familiar story of Batman's beginning infused with an almost literary style.
Miller is an expert at characterization. I was amazed at how much depth and likeability he could give even minor characters. A character that I found myself sympathizing with and surprisingly liking is Gordon's wife Barbara. With only powerful artwork and a few lines, I felt that she was portrayed very powerfully and believably, making her a great character that further enhances the personality and depth of Gordon. You can tell that Miller really likes Jim Gordon, as he is given more characterization than anyone else in the story. I really felt connected to the character by the end of the story, because he is so remarkably human, and not totally unlike myself. He makes mistakes, but he is in the end a good person, and I think this is what makes him so appealing, perhaps even more than Batman himself. This is not to say that the characterization of Batman is lacking in the story; quite the contrary, in fact. Bruce Wayne is also portrayed as a man who has his fair share of problems that he is trying to overcome in his never-ending fight to purge Gotham of corruption. The deep characterizations are what really make this book shine.
The only gripe I have with the storyline and characterizations is a subplot involving Catwoman in the story. While she is brilliantly portrayed, I ended up feeling as if her role in the story didn't have much meaning other than to set her up as a potential romantic interest of Batman in the future as well as a recognized rogue and thief. But her actions have relatively little bearing on where the story goes. The subplot is still enjoyable, and in the end it doesn't detract from the overall greatness of the storyline.
Some may be disappointed by the utter lack of classic Batman villains in the story. There is no Joker, no Two-Face, no Riddler, no Scarecrow, no one. Instead, Batman fights criminals that don't seem very different from the ones we find in real life. He is combating thugs and the corruption at the heart of the Gotham City: the politicians and police officers that are on the take and are part of the problem instead of the solution. I felt this gave the comic more credibility, but some will undoubtedly be disappointed that Batman isn't fighting one of his famous and colorful enemies. In fact, the only mention of one such villain in the entire book is in the very last panel on the very last page of the very last chapter.
The only major problem I have with the overall graphic novel is that it is short. The story itself is only around ninety pages. But they are a great ninety pages, and you won't be disappointed with them. But you will be left wishing that the story wouldn't end, making the length of the story the comic's greatest shortcoming.
This graphic novel is definitely a must-have for Batman fanatics, and I would heartily recommend it to people who are new to the world of Batman. After all, what better way is there to get into the world of the Dark Knight than by reading the story of where it all began?
103 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2000
It is a shame that, Tim Burton's excellent two outings notwithstanding, the Batman of film and television is the one that is most solidly rooted in the collective psyche of the public. What many current readers may not remember, however, is that the campiness of the 1966-68 TV show was reflected in, and fed off the Batman titles at the time.
All of that changed when Dennis O'Neil took over the writing chores and returned the character to the dark roots laid out by the late, great, Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Dennis O'Neil brought Batman comics into and through puberty. Frank Miller brought them into adulthood.
Along with the brilliant "Dark Knight Returns," "Year One" bookends the saga of Bruce Wayne by re-interpreting and sometimes redefining the character's roots. In so doing, Frank Miller laid the foundation for the character that today populates the monthly titles. Although not as grim as "Dark Knight," "Year One" nonetheless hits closer to home and is, in my opinion, the best introduction to the character for anyone unfamiliar with it outside of film and TV.
The parallel struggles of Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon to "clean up a city that likes being dirty" are brilliantly rendered by Miller, possibly the finest comics writer EVER. Miller's Jim Gordon is a far cry from the incompetent beat cop shown in movies and TV. He is a passionate, crusading man, the sort of cop Bruce Wayne might have been in another reality.
Opinions have always been strong one way or the other about the art in "Year One." For my money, you couldn't ask for more. Mazzucchelli's pencils work wonders even beyond what he did in "Daredevil: Born Again," and the coloring is particularly striking in its subtlety, even more so when you consider the "beat you over the head" standards of late-'80s comics.
All in all, this is the definitive Batman origin story. That Miller, Mazzucchelli and Lewis also manage to turn it into one of the finest Batman stories ever told is evidenced by the lasting impact it had on all subsequent interpretations of the characters involved. An all-around winner.
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Following up on his 1986 renovation of the Batman myth with "The Dark Knight Returns", Frank Miller teamed with David Mazzucchelli to produce "Batman: Year One", a novel retelling of how Bruce Wayne came to don tights to fight crime.
Miller's Gotham City is a corrupt and festering cesspool, much as he would later depict in his Sin City series. Two good men come to town to clean things up: Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon, a new detective on the Gotham police force fresh from his role in cleaning up another police department.
Wayne himself has returned to his hometown after a long absence, during which he trained himself to become a vigilante. Wayne's first foray into crimefighting nearly ends in disaster, but leads him ultimately to adopt the Batman motif to frighten criminals. Gordon becomes his unlikely ally as he strives to clean up Gotham's police department.
The writing remains more mature and gritty than the typical comic book fare of the time. Batman is not the invincible denizen of the dark we've come to know and love, but an awkward guy in a goofy costume who seems always to be within an inch of death. Gordon is no paragon of virtue either; the main subplot deals with his affair with another cop while his wife waits to give birth to his son.
The result is a gripping, gritty, and ultimately redeeming tale which once again reinvents the familiar figure of the Batman.
95 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2012
I sold my old copy in order to get this one. I wasn't sure to get it though. After all the price went up and the number of pages was the same.
Anyway, I pre-order the book and the release date was near. Then I read a piece in which Dave Mazzucchelli (original artist of the book) said that all the work he completed for DC Comics in preparation for the release of the deluxe edition was, quote, "tossed in the garbage" by DC's editorial.
Here's he's original statement:
"Several years ago, DC asked me if I'd help put together a deluxe edition of Batman: Year One, and Dale Crain and I worked for MONTHS to try to make a definitive version. Now whoever's in charge has thrown all that work in the garbage.
First, they redesigned the cover, and recolored my artwork - probably to look more like their little DVD that came out last year; second, they printed the book on shiny paper, which was never a part of the original design, all the way back to the first hardcover in 1988; third - and worst - they printed the color from corrupted, out-of-focus digital files, completely obscuring all of Richmond's hand-painted work. Anybody who's already paid for this should send it back to DC and demand a refund".
Not sure about you, but when a publisher throws aside the work of an original creator then something must be wrong with that publisher.
This little "mistake" or whatever they want to call sums to the rest of stuff on DC's collected editions such as: Awful binding in they're big books, the lack of shrink-wrap on the hardcovers, omision of word ballons in Absolute Kingdom Come, lack of conent in books like DC Universe by Alan Moore.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2005
When this miniseries first came out back in the eighties it left everyone breathless. David Mazzucchelli's art is some of the finest I've ever seen. It moves like a motion picture yet every still is ready to be framed (nice homage to the famous Hopper painting on the side: Gorden and Sgt. Essen having a late night coffee in a cafe called ... Hopper)
Frank Miller tells a story right from the beginning of the Batman saga. Bruce Wayne and Lieutenant Gordon discover they are both fighting on the same side to clean Gotham from the human filth. The only way to survive in the mess is as a team. They become friends.
On top of the fantastic graphic novel this book includes over 40 pages of sketches, layouts and script pages. Every Batman fan should have it, what do I say, this is one for you. Buy it. You won't be disappointed, I swear.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2001
I've been introduced to Frank Miller's 'Batman' stories namely by hype alone, and the hype is more than warranted. Miller writes 'Year One' the way Batman needs to be portrayed - gritty, dark and murky; all buzz-words that have become cliches for Millers work, and for the right reason. This is a crime story, true and simple.
Batman here is hardly the invincible super-hero steroetyped by our culture. Here he is just a man, one who's committed to the task of cleaning up Gotham City of the criminal element. He can be wounded, he can make mistakes, but he also gets the job done. The book also focuses on the young Jim Gordon, who would one day become Gotham's police commissioner and Batman's confidant. Here he's a young cop with all the failings and imperfections of a man striving to do whats right. Miller writes the dialogue with stark realism, and I felt like I was reading about true multi-dimensional characters.
With this book and his seminal 'Dark Knight Returns', Miller takes the icon of Batman out of the garish hands of the neon-lighted buffoonery of Hollywood and back into the shadowed streets where he was meant to be. Buy this book.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2012
I hate how Amazon puts all of the reviews together with each other. This is a review for only the kindle version.
But that being said I still have to write a bad review for the kindle edition. I bought this because I wanted to read a graphic novel on my new nexus 7. I read most of my normal books on a kindle with the keyboard but for a Graphic novel I wanted some color. Well the book works fine except for the print is pages are too small.
Naturally I thought to be able to pinch and zoom or double tap for zoom. Well on the KINDLE Instead of the normal zoom function you get this popup window that only make parts of the dialog zoomed in. What's annoying about that is I can't see the the art work, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of reading a graphic novel.
I wish that I would have downloaded a sample so that I would've realized that the kindle's app is garbage for reading graphic novels. At least the nook app lets me zoom in on the entire page so that I can read the dialog and see the artwork while reading it. I hate nook but for graphic novels it's far superior to kindle.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2005
Frank Miller opens this absolutely must own graphic novel classic from 1987-88 by telling us that if the only Batman we remember was Adam West on Saturday mornings, then we do not know the Batman he once met, a much darker batman, a more real batman, the kind of Batman that Tim Burton would succeed somewhat in bringing to the screen in 1989, but Batman: Year One is just so much better in so many ways, and probably will remain better than any movie or television program you can expect to see or have seen. If you want to know Batman, then you should really be meeting him right here.
I especially like the Batman: Year one story. It is an excellent beginning, lots of in-jokes and capturing moments, even on-the-edge of the seat suspense, almost 100 pages of intense artwork. It is about the beginning of Batman like you have never seen it before, but also and probably more importantly, includes the beginning of Commissioner Gordon, a Lieutenant Gordon here, with a pregnant wife, who comes to Gotham City and finds his whole department on the take. The millionaire Bruce Wayne, has been training to become a vigilante since his parents where murdered by a gang of thieves. It is a psychological condition of revenge. He is trying to find the right formula to scare his victims. When he does, he goes up against the same criminals and kingpins that Lieutenant Gordon finds himself up against, no Jokers or Penguins here, but regular underworld types making it all the more level-headed, and thus a more accepting Batman and story. Batman fails in first few attempts, but manages miraculously to survive and continue on, both Gordon and Batman building their careers as crime fighters in Gotham City throughout the pages, a surprise bonus Catwoman introduced in the final act which sees the new crime-fighting duo of Batman and Gordon finally meeting up, without any sign of Robin among the 96 pages, this is certainly an alternative Batman and probably the best one. Miller's look is a murky color bleeding hard edges and smears, resulting in a Batman graphic novel that takes your breath away. The action sequences are better than any movie I can think off to date, your eyes go wide open from frame to frame as this is the kind of animate Batman you have always wanted to see in action. It is not the kind of high quality artwork you see in advanced graphic novels, this was a series character that had to meet publication dates, but is still gloriously presented none the less. Just check out the sequence with Batman in the burning building fighting the SWAT team. It is the end of Chapter Two and most of Chapter 3. That is some of the best action sequences you have ever seen committed to the page.
I would suggest that you also try and get "Batman: The Dark Night Returns" as that was the other Batman graphic novel and "Batman: The Dark Night Strikes Again", totally different types of art to Year One, as these are both Frank Miller's work, the sequels to Batman: Year One, are mostly other artists, DC comics has a list at the back, very interesting ones at that also, like Alan Moore's Batman: Killing Joke, but get all of Miller's Batman before you try any other Year One or Year Two books. I would also recommend that you actually try a BEST OF GRAPHIC NOVELS before you venture down any path. And for those who are hearing that they must read and see some graphic novels to get to know Batman, let me ask you this. Do you like to read? Do you like movies? Then why don't you try Graphic Novels? Comics you say? Don't say that. This stuff is art. Do you like to read? Then why not Graphic Novels? Do you like movies? Then why not Graphic Novels? Why not? Why? Because it can be... "More fun than going to the movies" - Kevin Smith, Director Clerks. **At this time of writing I do not believe that the movie Batman: Begins is related to this classic piece of art**
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2005
If you come to this book looking for end-to-end Batman action, you may come away surprised, but I doubt you'll be disappointed. In tone, this book shares something with Miller's preceding Batman opus, The Dark Night Returns, in that it sets up the whole milieu in which Batman appears, the culture on which he's trying to make an impact.
It is also as much about Jim Gordon as it is about Bruce Wayne/Batman. Other key players in the Batman passion-play make appearances of varying impact (Alfred, Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent), but by and large this book lays out how Gordon and the Batman become unlikely partners. It's well-done, laying out step-by-step how this man who is so obviously commited to the idea of the rule of law comes to trust and even work with a man who believes that rule of law must take second place to justice. This is as much a story about a upright cop making his way in a corrupt police force as it is about Bruce donning the tights, and is the stronger for it.
Miller's great strength is characterisation and this book is no exception - much of it is in fact scripted as interior monologues from Gordon and Bruce, and he effectively evokes the way each character thinks. What spoken dialogue appears in the book is sparingly used, almost like a noir thriller. In fact, one can see elements from this book carrying through into the Sin City books that Miller began writing soon after.
Mazucchelli's art is excellent, walking a fine line - as he himself admits - between the realism that the noir approach demands, and the the fantastical that a guy running around in a cape throwing batarangs equally requires. As he says, superheroes don't really stand up to realistic representation, it needs that step of artistic remove to 'keep it real'. Still, the art is excellent in a gritty, kinetic way that seems relatively normal now but was striking back in the mid-80s.
And if you are looking at this book after having seen Batman Begins, and wondering if there's a connection, just buy it and try to spot how many things Cris Nolan lifted from it wholesale...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2005
Batman: Year One, written by Frank Miller and art by David Mazzucchelli and Richmond Lewis was a break-out follow-up to The Dark Knight Returns, yet while the Dark Knight was a retirement story of sorts, Year One was a "Batman Begins" story. Miller retells the origins story with steady narrative and character development that brings to life old friends, some of whom go back to 1939.
Miller gives Gordon a major part and as Batman is begging, Gordon is arriving and the developing relationship is thoughtful and plausible. The Catwoman is introduced, but subtly so, giving the reader who knows the future a hint of her origins as well. The tag for the Joker is great (similarly borrowed for the new Batman movie as well as year one's book 3 where Batman is being hunted by SWAT and calls his bats to help out).
Frank Miller helped bring comic story telling to the modern era and us comic fans are eternally grateful. I have this story in many versions, and this special addition has extra photos and notes that are fun for the avid collector.