After my initial foray into the world of Batman graphic novels, I was just hooked. Batman has always been my favorite superhero; mostly because the “super” he possesses — wits, drive, physical agility and strength — seem so much more relatable to me than superhuman strength or the ability to shoot webs out of my wrists.
I also enjoy the dark, gritty edge to the Batman franchise. Gotham City is a den of corruption, crime, and mayhem, and that, in my opinion, is a much more accurate picture of the world we live in than some happy, prosperous Pleasantville-type city.
That’s why I especially enjoyed Frank Miller’s treatment of Batman’s early years. He shows the Dark Knight learning the ropes, making mistakes, getting gravely injured. It’s gritty, real, and gripping. The artwork in this novel is also edgy without being ugly; stark without being plain. He does a great job of looking back at Batman’s origins and showing a prologue of how the Batman of The Dark Knight Returns came to be.
He also explains and sets up a lot of future characters and relationships in the Batman universe, such as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, ADA Harvey Dent, and especially Detective Jim Gordon. It’s a fun “when they were young” look at these characters, and it really humanizes them. It’s especially sad to see how Harvey Dent and Batman had such a promising beginning to their relationship. But that’s life in Gotham City.
Batman: Year One is definitely a must-read for fans of Batman and of Frank Miller.