Batman: Year One (Review)

April 14, 2010

Book cover for "Batman: Year One" by Frank Miller.Title: Batman: Year One

Author: Frank Miller (Writer), David Mazzucchelli (Illustrator), Richmond Lewis (Colorist), Todd Klein (Lettering)

Publication Year: 2005 (originally published in two parts in 1986-1987)

Pages: 144

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel

Source: Borrowed from the library at school

I haven’t really read a lot of the Batman graphic novels, or even the original comics. I watched the animated TV series when I was a kid, I’ve seen the Tim Burton movies (and, of course, the Christopher Nolan versions), and a few months ago, I watched the Adam West movie for the first time. I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m a huge fan of Batman, but I do definitely love the idea of the masked hope for a futuristic, corrupt Gotham City.

Since the beginning of the school year, I’ve been eyeballing this graphic novel on the shelf, and I’ve even talked a couple kids into reading it. They all loved it, but found it a little hard to follow. I thought that was strange for a superhero graphic novel, so I decided that I really needed to read it. Yesterday, I finally got around to that.

Batman: Year One tells the story of the first year after Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City after having been away for 12 years. It recounts the process he goes through in creating the “Batman” persona, as well as telling the story of Jim Gordon’s arrival in Gotham City and subsequent clashes with a seriously corrupt police force. The material obviously isn’t anything all that new, but the way it’s told is definitely different from any other Batman comic or graphic novel that I’ve encountered so far.

It’s very similar to the Nolan movies, in the sense that it’s very dark and serious. Bruce Wayne really struggles in the beginning, finding it hard to get things to go right. Gordon also suffers a lot through this graphic novel, including a subplot involving his pregnant wife.

I can understand now how my students were confused – the story jumps around a fair bit between different dates and different characters’ points of view. For me as an adult, it was perfectly acceptable and easy to follow, even making the narrative more interesting. For students with lower-level literacy, though, it would definitely be a challenge.

Even though I already knew the basic story, I really enjoyed Batman: Year One. It was a dark re-fashioning of the origins of Bruce Wayne’s alternate Batman persona, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I found it hard to put down, wanting to read it in one go from beginning to end.

Rating:

One Comment

  • AlexG April 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Thanks for the review. I’m a big fan of the batman cartoon series, or at least was when I was a kid. I loved the Christopher Nolan movies, and they are what prompted me to start reading the graphic novels. I’ve already read The Killing Joke which is primarily about the Joker. It’s said this is the book Heath Ledger read that inspired his take on the Joker. I just picked up Year One and have yet to read it, but your review certainly made me want to finish my things up quicker to begin enjoying it.

    Thanks again, great post.

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