Thursday, August 25, 2011

BATMAN: YEAR ONE by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli

I bought the 2005 trade paperback on sale last month in preparation for next month's animated adaptation. It tells the concurrent stories of Jim Gordon's first year in Gotham City and Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman, having returned to Gotham after martial arts training.

Most of the focus is on Gordon, keeping Batman a mysterious figure. We all know he becomes a great hero, I suppose, so that story didn't need to be told. Still, I would have liked more Bruce Wayne/Batman. Overall, I thought Miller did a better job rebooting Daredevil. His success there led to his being asked to reboot Batman. Then again, I find Matt Murdock/Daredevil easier to empathize with than Bruce Wayne.

Miller does succeed in bringing his hardboiled sensibilities to Gotham, and Christopher Nolan used many of his touches in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I wonder if readers picking up the TPB for the first time will find it as I did, too much backstory/establishment a la Star Wars I-III or Enterprise.

The comics run leaves a lot for the animated movie to fill in; I'm still curious to see it.


Rob D Smith said...

Loved this backstory. Makes Batman more street level crime centered to me. And made me appreciate Jim Gordon.

StephenD said...

I just read this for the first time recently too. You're right. Gordon is the primary focus and Miller did a good job fleshing him out. My guess is since we know the gritty Batman though Nolan's movies, we're not as enthralled by Miller's reboot as people where when it was first published.

Gerald So said...

I agree, Stephen. I'd trace the gritty movie Batman back to Tim Burton's first movie, before things got camped up again. It took a little work to imagine how the storyline must have hit in 1987. Still, I wanted more of a look into Bruce Wayne than I got.

Matt Curtis said...

I read 'Year One' back in 1988, when I was 13, and I re-read it recently. To me, it's the best Batman story in any medium. The grit, the subtle humor, the quirky little details, the clean and perfect lines, the fallibility and contrasts of the two heroes, the intimacy of the (two) diary format. There's something real about it. No overdone Gothic romanticism, no camp, no bulging muscles or heaving breasts. Understated, but hard-boiled. Perfect.

I'm currently reading Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp - very different.