Yet another praised classic Batman tale of Frank Miller’s follows the footsteps of the critically acclaimed the Dark Knight Returns. Does the successor of the best Batman story manage to hold its own ground?
Issue(s): Batman #404-#407
🖊Writer(s): Frank Miller
Artist(s): Dave Mazzucchelli
🗨Best Quote: “I know pain. Sometimes I share it. With someone like you.”
The arc is precisely what the title suggests, Batman’s first year, but don’t let the name fool you because it is a Jim Gordon story as much as a Batman one. It makes sure you know that the moment the reader opens up to the first page which is very strong and pulls you in immediately giving perspectives from both characters. The most beautiful thing about this comic is its art. The editor could have gotten rid of all lettering yet the reader would still know what’s happening. That’s how he good the art is. Mazzucchelli’s art captures the essence and tone of Gotham City while Richmond Lewis’ coloring skills enhance that experience even further by adding dirty and unexaggerated gloomy colors that feel synonymous with the city. I praised the Dark Knight Returns for it’s confident direction and the pattern continues here.
Frank Miller creates another script full of bold moves. Year One deals with serious subject matter of police brutality, abuse of law and the failure of it. This take on the Dark Knight aged very well. If someone told me this came out in the modern day I wouldn’t question it one bit. I actually believe this story suits today’s society better than back in the day with all the things we hear on the news. Just like the art Frank Miller understands what he wants to do with these characters, but unlike the Dark Knight Returns and the art, it lacks in execution.
After the excellent first and a half issue the elements of the story fall apart. There are some many great ideas in here that lack proper handling such as Batman’s proper introduction into crime fighting as the masked vigilante. Once you see Bruce put on the costume you’ll notice it just happened. There wasn’t a moment that really made you go, “Now this is how Batman came to be”. While we’re on the topic of Bruce after the first issue he is very blunt. There is no overall character development at all and after the first chapter he’s only there for the cool punch & pow. It’s as if the story forgets what the reader truly came here for. The story truly focuses on Gordon and it even fails to deliver on that front.
By the end of the story Jim Gordon becomes very unlikeable and yet the comic still wants us to emphasize with the guy. His relationship with the Batman is nonexistent. It feels unearned and rushed. A silly side plot is introduced to the story in part three that later brings in zero consequences to the overall tale which could have easily been a dramatic highlight. Even the depiction of the police power abuse ends up done in an extreme, controversial manner that would go unnoticed, but is. That may be the point this comic is trying to make, but shouldn’t be due to the circumstances and characters presented. There is also one particular female side character in the comic book that is key to Batman’s history which also gets side tracked, and shoved in. She held no purpose and had laughable motivations.
Batman: Year One on many occasions wastes time on things that don’t affect the story one bit making you question your time spend. If the comic started and ended with issue one it would have been a more full filing story. Given the title there is little to offer for the Dark Knight under than cool one-liners or action. This comic is like an unfinished puzzle piece. It presents an image missing the important bits that really give a proper and true execution. Frank Miller gets too much undeserved praise for Year One most likely due to the “Batman/Miller hype” that rubbed off on this from DKR. I constantly found myself waiting to see the costs of choices made but once again apparently those don’t exist. Writing only saves itself with the bold commentating interpretation, but anon it exaggerates its locality to a reach of too much impracticality. If it weren’t for the never aging art by Mazzucchelli and coloring by Lewis, this comic might have been one of the biggest disappointments in Batman’s history lacking in any other effective conclusion. Six out of ten.
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