With another big Batman movie on the horizon, I thought is would be a good time to take a look at a slight trade that really has set the standard for all other Batman tales that have come after. This week, we take a look at Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and published by DC Comics.
It all starts with a homecoming. Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City after years abroad. Training and preparing himself for what is to come. He isn't quite ready, but he has a job to do and that is to take back Gotham from the thugs and pusher and pimps and mob bosses that has turned the city his family helped build into a cesspool of crime, A city that took his parents from him so long ago in a dark, damp alley. That is the set up to this retelling of the origin of Batman and introduces Bruce, Alfred, Gordan, Dent, and Kyle in a very real world and grounded way that gives these characters depth that makes them more than just figures on a page and shapes them into very relatible, flawed individuals. We see how Bruce is able to learn and use his intellect and wits to fight the crime that the cops can't seem to deal with and we see how he got the idea to become "the bat". Additionally, it is as much the story of Gordan as he first comes to Gotham and tried to clean up the cops that have turned a blind eye to crime for much too long
Christopher Nolan has read Batman: Year One...so should you. The first two Nolan Batman movies owe so much to these four dense issues of comic masterpiece that I really hope that he has taken good care of both Miller and Mazzucchelli at premieres for those movies. The writing is good Miller and the art is amazing by Mazzucchelli. Like I said, the issues are very dense with information and action and the art is so fluid and kinetic that you can almost feel the punishment Bruce puts himself through. Not over rote with splash pages, the art really sells the realism of the story and sets up a situation in which you can't put the book down until you see the prophetic last page. As mentioned before, Nolan lifted so much directly from these four issues that I really have to wonder where his ideas for The Dark Night Rises has come from. He did great with some amazing source material, but I have to wonder what happens when he "goes off the rails" with his final Batman movie. But that is a discussion for another time. Batman: Year One is Miller's writing at it's finest and pitch perfect art from Mazzucchelli. Stop reading this and go read it for yourself.