I was browsing Goodreads one night and noticed a friend of mine had posted a review for Batman: Year One. Out of curiosity, I went to see what I had rated it when I read it all those years ago. Turns out, I didn’t rate it at all. No review either! I had to rectify that. I was also falling a bit behind in my goal of at least 75 books read in 2020, so a graphic novel wouldn’t hurt. I could knock it out in an evening.
The title is self-explanatory. Batman: Year One follows Bruce Wayne and Lt. Jim Gordon through their first year in Gotham. Turns out neither was perfect from the get-go. Bruce is struggling to find his identity in becoming Gotham’s protector while Gordon is attempting to be a decent man in an indecent time Both falter, but never truly waver from their visions for themselves. Author Frank Miller shows the true extent to which organized crime and the Gotham City Police Department are interwoven by shining a light on the herculean effort it will take on both the parts of Batman and Gordon to try and untangle and re-establish law and order within the city.
The work on the parts of David Mazzucchelli and Richmond Lewis lift an already great story into an all-time classic. This isn’t meant to showcase flashy, over-produced artwork – Batman: Year One is about gritty minimalism alongside muted colors to firmly place Gotham at the intersection of depravity and depression. I’m not the biggest fan of Miller’s artwork, so I’m glad DC opted to pair two greats with him and have him concentrate solely on the writing – which I believe was his intention anyway.
Batman: Year One is a tent pole of The Dark Knight’s legacy. Miller did more to resurrect The Caped Crusader than almost anyone else and we have him to thank for some of the great work that would follow.