Writer(s): Frank Miller
Artist(s) David Mazzucchelli
Published by DC Comics 1987
An Origin Story, where Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham from his wonderings and trainings, and wants to become a vigilante, while transferred police Ltnt Jim Gordon deals with being new in the corrupt Gotham Police department. Catwoman shows her claws, the mob wants to flex their muscle and the plot thickens.
OK, since this is my first review of a work by one of “The Two Big Ones” (Marvel, DC, of course) I chose something classic, to start with.
This was a great combo, Miller writing, and Mazzucchelli doing the art. It was released initially as a four issue comic, but now you can find it collected in many Paperbacks and many Hardcover editions.
I haven’t researched enough on the creative process of this graphic novel, but at times it seems to me that Miller may have done the pencils or storyboards on some pages cause Mazzucchelli achieved a strange balance between carrying his own style while reminding the reader that Miller’s is involved in the graphic design of this piece, not just a narrative one. But Miller has proven oftentimes that he has a “street” perspective of how the common man views and reacts to Superheroes, (Dark Knight Returns, and his whole Daredevil run in Marvel) and uses that skill here with grace and good measure.
This story takes place in Gotham, a Gotham that could be NYC in the 80’s, filled with down to earth people, flawed characters and insecure archetypes.
We have our first glint at the private life of who will eventually become Commissioner Gordon, and his life is complex and tragically flawed also.
Gotham has volume, and the shadows that Mazzucchelli portrays are amongst the best we have encountered in graphic format. The city is also dirty, is busy, is gritty. The city is its own unbeatable entity, and some characters try to fight against all odds to improve them (Gordon and Wayne) while some others embrace it and move through its evil waves as fish in water (the villains, obviously).
As one of those tidbits of trivia that I love sharing, I will disclose that this graphic novel was the source of inspiration of Batman Begins, the brilliant movie by the brilliant Christopher Nolan, both on the thematic undertones as in overt visual inspiration (Wayne’s street attire, the police corruption, Falcone)
And not surprising, since Nolan loves a good narrative, and in this graphic novel the tempo of the narrative is well kept, and the panels that are rendered by Mazzucchelli in absolute perfect complement to the thick and rich story. I’ve heard of people who stated “that particular story-line didn’t do anything for me” or another statement as such, but when you dig in deeper in their tastes, it just so happens that these people usually prefer their heroes more “Supermanish” or less dirty and more Uponthesky…
So, on my Critics rating, Batman: Year One gets
PS: I just found out that WB is trying to put together an animated series, based on this Classic, although the news has been around for a while.