Batman: Year One is an acclaimed Batman graphic novel and storyarc written by Frank Miller known for his critically acclaimed works such as; Daredevil, Sin City and The Dark Knight Returns, and drawn by artist David Mazzucchelli. In my opinion this is an essential and the definitive origin of The Dark Knight. The story was released in the 1980s, a decade which saw a growing increase in; crime, poverty, corruption, violence and political commentary on nuclear warfare in America. In the comic industry a new wave of writers and artist would appear and represent these issues in several critical acclaimed comics such as; Watchmen (Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons), The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller) and The Sandman (Neil Gaiman). This movement would become famously known as The British Invasion of comics, as writers of British origin; Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman, to name a few saw themselves being recruited by DC comics to take over from their American predecessors. The writers’ stories and writing style would also see the transition of Comic Books being called Graphic Novels because of their mature content.
below is a comic book documentary, watching the video from the time point 1:00:47 to 1:09:24, narrates what was going on in 1980s America and how the British Invasion of Comics began;
The Story: Batman Year One is an origin story not only for the caped crusader but also for longtime ally and friend Commissioner James Gordon. After traveling around the world for the past twelve years learning martial arts, sciences and outdoor activities, twenty five year old Bruce Wayne returns to his hometown of Gotham City. At the same time a young James Gordon and his pregnant wife move to Gotham after James Gordon’s transfer from Chicago. Both Bruce Wayne and James Gordon notice a prevalent problem plaguing Gotham; Crime and Corruption. Presented as a dual narrative both the main protagonist storylines juxtapose with each other. Bruce Wayne after talking up the mantle of Batman wages a one man army on Italian crime boss, Carmine Falcone and his criminal organisation, while James Gordon decides to work by the books against his corrupt peers and boss Gillian B. Loeb; who’s on Falcone’s payroll. I would highly recommend this graphic novel, because it presents a realism element to the storyline. Rather than fighting iconic rogues that typically show up; The Joker, The Riddler, Penguin or Mr. freeze, Batman fights the mob; no-powered people who carry firearms and use their position to blackmail average people. Being years behind to being know as the World’s Greatest Detective, Batman is backed into a corner; the public is against him, the police force are brought by the criminals that control Gotham, he’s alone trying to save the city from the kind of people that took away his parents. Before he became the commissioner of Gotham, James Gordon struggles as he wants to be a good man in the eyes of his wife and unborn child and not become the corrupt people of Gotham. Both protagonists start off as being eniemes as they are on different sides of the law but soon become alleys once they release the share the same viewpoint on Gotham City.
Batman crashes a dinner party: After stopping teenaged smugglers and a cocaine delivery, Batman decides to put his amateur skills to the test. He crashes a dinner party hosted by Carmine Falcone and warns him and his attendees; corrupt politicians and crime bosses, telling them that he will bring them to justice. This can be found on Chapter Two: Panel 5, Page 38 of the graphic novel and was brought to life in the 2011’s DC Animated film; Batman: Year One, based on the book.
I shall become a bat: A disguise Bruce Wayne visits Gotham’s East End;a rough area filled with teenaged prostitution. Failing to subdue the large crowd that attacks him, Bruce Wayne staggers home after saving the lives of the two cops that arrested him, from their exploding car. Back at Wayne Manner, Bruce sits alone in the dark staring at his father’s bust. Needing advice and guidance on his war against crime, Bruce is inspired when a bat crashes through, sitting and and screeching onto of his father’s bust. This can be found in Chapter One, Pages 22 panel 5 of the book.
Gordon’s Monologue: We see James Gordon’s narrative. Up in the middle of the night,whilst his pregnant wife sleeps, Gordon’s wrestling with his conscience. He asks for forgiveness from his wife and unborn child, for the affair he’s embarked on with his partner on the force; Sgt Sarah Essen. trying his best he can’t stop thinking about her. At the same time he can’t stop thinking about Batman; to him it should simply be black and white, he is a criminal and he is a cop, but it’s not, how can he a cop in a city ruled by crime view Batman as a vigilante after witnessing him save innocent civilians and seeing him slowly clean up and bring justice to Gotham negatively? This is a single panel from Chapter Three which can be found on page 70 of the book.
Batman Vs GCPD: After saving an old woman from being run over, Batman is shot as he tries to flee from being apprehended by James Gordon and Sarah Essen. Heading towards an ally, Batman enters an abandoned house for shelter and safety. He soon finds himself against a small group of GCPD SWAT officers who have been ordered to capture the vigilante dead or alive. Outside is Gordon and a large crowd who are cheering him on, as their in suspense to whether Batman will get out alive. This can be found in the last panels of Chapter two and continues on to Chapter three of the book. below is a clip from the animated film, showing the scene;
I’ve got a friend coming…: The ending of the book reaches an epic climax. A montage and monologue by now Captain Gordon, explains that his former commissioner is facing charges after a cop has spoken up about his illegal connections and involvement. Gordon later talks about how Sarah Essen has transferred to New York, doing well and how he and Barbara are making progress with marriage counselling. The defining moment is when Gordon references Batman future archenemy, when he quotes “somebody is threatening to poison the water supply, calls himself ‘The Joker’. The panel ends with a shot of Gordon’s smiley smoking a pipe quoting how he’s got a friend who can help, referring to batman who he has now started to form a partnership which will later go on to form the iconic Batman-Gordon friendship.
As you can see Batman: Year One is groundbreaking, both in art and writing. The book has even influenced director Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012), with key sequences from the book being used in Batman Begins (2005). I would strongly recommend this book for long time fans and new readers to Batman.
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