Reading this again, was actually a ton of fun. It’s been a while since I picked this one up. In fact, Batman Year One was the first comic my dad ever gave me, and the first one I ever read. It was my first adventure, my first hero, my first dive into a paged world where people in capes jumped off rooftops and saved the day. Shout out to my dad for making sure my first time was this epic.
This one’s coming from the heart, guys.
Year One is an origin story. (Duh) But for those of you who have never read it, it’s not just Bruce’s story of his journey to becoming Batman. It’s Jim Gordon’s story too. And that is what makes this story a game changer. Team BatJim has been so essential to the Batman universe as a whole, and watching them experience their beginnings, if you will, together, is deep, dark, heart wrenching, and downright badass.
Now, for a first issue, this story does a lot more than set a foundation and explain a lot of things, something many first issues are usually built on. Miller gets right into the action, and the dark, gritty cloud that always hangs over Gotham City. Bruce and Gordon, have both just arrived in Gotham City, Gordon relocating for work, and Bruce returning after a 12 year absence. Bruce is ready to be back, ready to start the mission of saving his city, even though he doesn’t quite know how yet. Gordon just wants to bail.
I mean, let’s just be honest. Would you be trying to move to Gotham City?
In this first chapter, Gordon is contending with his new department, and Commissioner Leob and Jim’s new partner Flass, kinda suck. They’re motivated by their own self interests, and even worse, their own greed. Gordon has never been that guy, though, and they try very hard to force him into submission. (Late night, baseball bats, threats – the works) But Gordon ain’t no punk. And his comeback beatdown, was epiccccc. They weren’t ready.
Man. I wasn’t ready.
Meanwhile, Bruce is busy getting his lay of the land, and training at home. i.e Breaking small structures made from brick and kicking down trees, because yes. Yes, he can. He also goes out on his first run in the East End, which was a lot less successful than he was hoping for.
Basically, he got his ass kicked.
He wasn’t ready. Too cocky, too reckless, too quick to start a fight.
When he gets home, injured, bleeding, dying, he can’t decide if he wants to survive this. Ring the bell and Alfred will come, but if he leaves it, if he just leaves it… it’s all over. No more of any of this. And it’s tempting. But Bruce is a fighter. For him there is no ‘I can’t.’ Hell, there isn’t even ‘I can.’ The only thing Bruce has is ‘I will.’
Needless to say he rang the bell. I’m sure Alfred had a fit.
The writing in this story is amazing. The personal narratives of Bruce and Jim, are telling, poignant, and sharp. It’s all the classic ingredients of a gritty detective story, but it’s been cooked a different way. Like, with saffron or something. Because it doesn’t read like something you’ve read before. It maintains a freshness that keeps you turning the page.
There are little things that make big impacts too. For example, Gordon’s narrative is one yellow paper, whereas Bruce’s is on white. And each narrative is in their respective handwriting. There are also a ton of one liners in here that are soooo good. The kind that you have to pause and think about, then read again, then try not to burn yourself on the heat coming off the page. I’m telling you, Year One is the real deal .
And the art is just friggin’ classy. It’s old school, and the colors are mellow. Feels like you’re in the heart of the city, covered in the filth, lost in the lights. It brings you in, no, it invites you in. They want you to come into this world.
Me? I’ve been chilling here for a minute.
But you should swing by sometime.
I promise, it’s one hell of a ride.