Batman: Year One by Frank Miller – Comic Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews Batman: Year One, a comic-book tale that explores the origins of Batman, that is written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, and coloured by Richmond Lewis. Published by DC Comics, this is one comic book that Batman fans won’t want to miss.
“A fascinating look into the origins of the Caped Crusader. Wonderfully illustrated and with an amazing story to boot, any Batman fan will love Batman: Year One.” ~The Founding Fields
Alright, this is my first comics review, so before we start, expect things to be a bit sketchy. This is also my first self-brought comic from DC, so I should let you know that before we start this review. I’m not a comic veteran, with shelves after shelves packed full of spandex-clad superheroes. I’ve watched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (both of which are awesome), and seen a couple of Simpsons episodes where they reference Batman, played an ancient Justice League game on a Gameboy Advance ages ago, and recently started playing Batman: Arkham City on the Xbox, but that’s it. That’s where my knowledge of the caped crusader ends. Before I read Batman: Year One, I was a complete newbie to the comics-verse.
So naturally, I picked what turned out to be the perfect place to start in my opinion, Batman: Year One, which informs the reader of the origin tale of Batman, and is the comic book that I’ll be reviewing in this review. I guess, without further ado, here’s the blurb, taken from Goodreads:
A young Bruce Wayne has spent his adolescence and early adulthood, traveling the world so he could hone his body and mind into the perfect fighting and investigative machine. But now as he returns to Gotham City, he must find a way to focus his passion and bring justice to his city. Retracing Batman’s first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed vigilante, we watch as he chooses a guise of a giant bat, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon, inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a corrupt political system that infests Gotham.
So we have it all in Batman: Year One. Catwoman, Batman, and even Lieutenant James Gordon, this short comics issue helps explore the characters and their origin tales. The action is frequent, and the comic itself is action packed, as well as managing to develop the characters well. The aforementioned three characters are really the protagonists here in Batman: Year One, as the story focuses the attention on them and introduces Gotham first-hand to the reader, as a dark, damp and brutal fictional underworld – and manages to do it very well indeed. Gotham is a very dangerous place to live in, and it’s a place where you wouldn’t want to spend your summer break. Mazzucchelli, the artist has done a wonderful job of showing us this, and some of the artwork in this comic illustrates the dark atmosphere of Gotham superbly.
I loved Gary Oldman’s portrayal of James Gordon in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, so I was wondering how Miller would portray the Lieutenant here. He’s pulled this off well indeed, and gives Gordon about as much page time as the Dark Knight himself, which is good to read about, as as much as I liked Bruce Wayne and his alter ego of Batman, I really wanted to see how the likes of non-superheroes are portrayed in a primarly superhero comic.
Although the story seemed somewhat rushed and perhaps could have done better with a longer page count, it is no doubt an intruging look into the origin of Batman. Whilst it doesn’t look into his training with presumably the League of Shadows (as this is my first Batman comic I’m not that sure how big a role they’ll play in the comics), which will probably be explored in more depth elsewhere, Batman: Year One is nonetheless an entertaining tale, with wonderful artwork that doesn’t go too over the top.
I also loved how Selina, aka Catwoman, was shown in this story. As mentioned in the blurb above, Bruce Wayne played a role in leading her to become Catwoman, and Miller has done a great job in threading her origin tale in with the rest of the characters making it all part of one storyline.
I sped through Batman: Year One fast, having picked it up in town earlier today, and reading it on the course of the bus journey home and finished it off once I got back. I almost missed my bus stop, which proved how enthralled in this comic I was. Indeed, my only complaint is that the story could have gone on longer, as I didn’t want this adventure to end. However, Miller has done a brilliant job of making the reader want to read more of Batman’s adventures, particularly with one of my favourite movie-villains being mentioned on the final page of the main storyline.
Despite recently watching Avengers Assemble, I’m reminded once more of just how awesome the Batman Universe is, and I defiantly seem to be in a more of a Batman mood at the moment. I’ll probably pick up a few Marvel comics soon to see how they compare, and I’ll probably end up reviewing them as well.
This is truly an incredible book. If you’ve seen the first two Batman movies, are yet to read the comics and are wanting to look into some more Batman whilst you’re waiting for the Dark Knight Rises to be released later this summer, then Batman: Year One is the perfect comic for you. If you’re a Batman-comics fan and you haven’t read this yet, then you really should go out and read it as soon as you can. It’s awesome.