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Batman: Year One - Frank Miller

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Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics / Author: Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli / Paperback / 144 Pages / Book is published 2007-01-10 by DC Comics

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    10 Reviews
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      18.10.2011 15:56
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      Enjoyable read and gripping page turner.

      When Frank Miller was tasked to give the Dark Knight a fresh perspective and try reboot the characters for a new generation, nobody would have foreseen that Batman: Year One would become one of the most classic story among the countless stories of Gotham City's protector.

      Year One retold the original story of how Bruce Wayne's parents died on that fateful night and shows how the young Bruce tries to deal with his loss and what pushes him to go the vigilante route. The tone of the story is set in a more realistic and grittier tone and the work of David Mazzucchelli contributes greatly to make this novel a classic. The scenes of Bruce's parents are perfect example of how this is a different take on Batman.

      While Bruce Wayne struggles to clean the streets of thugs and criminals, the novel also shows a a young Jim Gordon (still lieutenant) who just arrives in town who find it hard to deal with criminals as he is faced with corruption. moral issues and powerful criminal syndicate. As Jim pursues his targets, he is still intrigued by the Batman and wants to know if he is a criminal or just someone who thinks the same as him i.e get rid of evil doers from the streets of Gotham. Eventually the paths of these two men will cross and Gordon knows if he want to win against criminals he has to make alliance with the Batman.

      Year One is an excellent read, the story is simple yet covered many grounds which has set the bar higher for the detective superhero where even the recent Christopher Nolan's cinematic adaption is said to be inspired by Frank Miller's story.

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        07.11.2010 12:35
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        Great coverage of the first year of Batman's existence

        When Christopher Nolan arrived on the scene to direct the latest spark in the Batman film franchise, inspiration had to come from somewhere. The films had taken an almost farcical turn which meant that true Batman fans had seen their dark and atmospheric crime fighting hero go from the black caped bat who instils fear into his enemies to a brightly coloured spoof puncher relying on gadgets and witty comments and sidekicks to get through the corruption lacing the unrealistic Gotham City.

        Batman: Year One gave Nolan the inspiration to return to the dark gothic roots of Batman, and it gave Christian Bale the right ideas on how to play the dark and damaged man behind the mask. The graphic novel is penned by Frank Miller, an acclaimed writer artist who this time decided to turn his artist mantra over to David Mazzuchelli, a move that saw him able to concentrate more on the actual story.

        And what a story it is. As the title suggest, it focuses on the first emergence of Batman, and combines it with the arrival into the corrupt fictional Gotham City of police Lieutenant James Gordon and his pregnant wife. Everything to live for and keen to do the right thing, Gordon soon finds the city's corruption stems from the Commissioner's office and seeps through every echelon of the force, reaching gangsters and other high flyers in society. Determined, he soon finds out what happens when you try to 'cure' the City of its corruption, but carries on regardless, promising his 'best work' to a frustrated Commissioner Loeb who quite clearly just wants a peaceful and corrupt life.

        The villains on this thread do intertwine with those on the Batman side of the tale, and so I will explain this side of it. The focus of the novel, which sees a whole year pass, is more dark and in depth when it comes to the Dark Knight of Gotham, as Batman becomes. First though, and at the same time as Gordon arrive in Gotham, we see its richest son return after a long absence following his parents' deaths. Bruce Wayne is the heir to the millions of the Wayne estate left to him after the deaths, but its the inner struggle he has to rid the city of the corruption it's rife with that causes him to turn to vigilantism in order to get this done. He struggles to find an identity with which to do this before realising that fear is the key, and so he turns to that which frightened him when he was a child: the bat.

        As he uses his wealth to provide with the means to creating a Batsuit, we see that his and Gordon's objectives are one and the same. However, the vigilante methods of Batman don't sit well with Gordon's by the book approach, and it's a different Gordon to the one we're used to seeing. I'm used to seeing the needy, desk occupying older Gordon, or the physically average man trying to bring down the City, and it has never really been something I have focused on, I suppose wondering in the back of my mind why a mentally and physically stronger man hasn't been portrayed as the one to set the City right. Here in Batman: Year One, Gordon is just that: a fighter, both physically and mentally. He is young, fresh, rough and ready to tackle one and all, and is in many ways just like Batman: ready to take risks in order to do the right thing.

        The inner struggles these two characters both take give them equal footing in this novel. I had expected Gordon to take a minor role, but he doesn't change from the start, with Batman needing to progress from a vigilante millionaire to a determined caped crusader, with secret identity and everything. Gordon is the visual corruption fighter from the very start. Batman becomes the story, but it's very much Gordon's fight to begin with. These inner struggles do appear with the enemies that they come across: these are regular people, even if they are petty crooks and corrupt policemen for the most part. There are no flamboyant crooks or villains with ridiculous costumes or unrealistic weaponry and special features about them. It grounds the whole thing, making it extremely realistic and believable, and I think this is what makes it such a powerful story. There are mentions of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, as well as the arrival of Assistant DA Harvet Dent and crime boss Falcone, but these are introductory and not really elaborated on that much. The focus here is very much on the joint morality of Batman and Gordon.

        The script is brilliant. At times, it threatens to get wordy, but the combination between the monologues that Gordon and Batman have consistently running through and the spoken word bring enough variation to keep it interesting all the time. I loved the way Mazzuchelli was let loose with the artwork. He has combined older styles with a newer smoothness around the characters, sticking as much to traditional paintwork as opposed to the glossy and over defined characters you see in comics these days. A late '80s production, this was hailed as the best at the time, and it still holds up under pressure and competition even 20 years later. It just goes to show that, despite the flair and creation going around these days, the older more basic tales can often be the most powerful. It's not about how you change things, it's about how you mould what's already there, and Miller has certainly done this. Nothing fancy, and nothing new. Just good old Batman origins, and well told. Recommended.

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          11.09.2010 21:40
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          A triumph in comic books. A must read

          Batman: Year one is one of the most important comic books in the past 25 years and this re-telling of the the dark knight origins. The book pack alot into its 144 pages and has been the inspiration for numourous Batman films and espisodes of cartoons.

          The graphic novel tells the story of Bruce Wayne's first year a Batman. The story centres around why he becomes Batman and tells you the reasons why he dons the cape and cowl. Basically this is a complete origin tale as it shows Bruce returning to Gotham after years of martial arts training to make him one of the worlds greatest fighters. Upon returning he sets out to make his mark and he gets badly beaten as a result. Knowing that to get anywhere with the types in Gotham he will have to instil fear into them so he uses what instils fear into him - a bat. From here the story looks at the trials and tribulations of his first year as well as focusing on the relationship between a young commissioner Gordon. Its really refreshing to see the dynamics between them both. In fact is refreshing to see a Batman who is just starting out and not the adept one we are used to seeing. There are no fancy gadgets in the story which makes it unlike almost any other batman story.
          The art in the book is fantastic and different. It suits the dark, gritty nature of the book and sets the mood and tone well.
          I simply fell in love with the book and it is the best Batman story ever told. The way the story is told makes batman almost human and you are urging him to succeed because for once he is almost the underdog. Grounding the story in reality was a bold move which has spectacularly paid off for Miller as he has created a world which Batman could live in in reality, not just in the books. You can see where the two newest batman films got a lot of their inspiration from after you have read the book.

          Overall this is simply a must read for any fan of Batman, comics or those wanting to see what inspired the new batman filsm.

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            25.02.2010 17:00
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            One of the better and more important Batman graphic novels

            Batman Year One retells the story of Bruce Wayne's first year as the crime fighting vigilante Batman. it shows him returning to Gotham city, with a plan to clean up the city of the crime that killed his parents when he was a child. At the same time, a younger James Gordon is assigned to Gotham and tries to fit in with the corrupt cops of Gotham, who don't like the way he does things.

            The book goes into detail at both of these characters, and their struggles. At first Bruce tries to fight crime just as himself, as another bloke on the street but when he almost gets shot, he decides he needs to change how he does things, and needs to inflict fear into his opponents. At the same time, Jim is struggling with marital issues, the cops' views on the Batman "threat", and an attractive new coworker he can't take his eyes off.

            The story does a great job of capturing the internal struggles of these characters, and is very typical of the Frank Miller noir style, very fitting with Batman. David Mazzuccheli's art is simple but powerful, fitting in perfectly with the Batman style.
            Some of the more important characters are there, like Selina Kyle, but aren't greatly expanded upon. There is mention of the Joker, too and it all works as a great introduction to the whole Batman series. It's very well done and will keep you gripped in its somewhat short length.Well worth a read

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            03.01.2010 15:12
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            thoroughly enjoyable, worth a read for all Batman and comic book/graphic novel fans

            Batman Year One is another excellent installment in Frank Miller's Batman graphic novel adaptations. The book primarily focuses on Bruce Wayne's start of his crime fighting career and the steps he took to become the Caped Crusader. It also contentrates on Jim Gordon's transfer to Gotham City and struggle to adapt and come to terms with the corruption of Gotham's crooked powers that be.
            Anyone that has read the Miller Batman graphic novels will agree that it is obvious Miller is a huge Batman fan himself and this really come through in his version of the Batman story. What is interesting about this story is the focus on Gordon who struggles to deal with his inner conflict of getting his head down and doing his job vs his desire for justice and to weed out the corruptions of his collegues.
            This is one of the few novels that attempts to deal with Batman's origins and anyone who is a fan of the super hero should definitely consider giving this a read. It is also sighted by Christopher Nolan as one of the key sources he used when devising his epic Batman Begins film (see the special features of the dvd).
            In conclusion, this is a fairly short read (I did it in one evening) but thoroughly enjoyable, worth a read for all Batman and comic book/graphic novel fans.

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            07.09.2009 13:08

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            the beginning, find the resons why and how Batman came to be

            Batman Year One stole my comic book virginity...and it was good (which is surprising considering other lost virginities). There was the expected turbulence; such as the illegibility of some of the writing, and having to go back through pages which were stuck together, but all in all it was an excellent experience.
            Within an hour of the postman sliding the novel through my letter box, i had finished reading it and became addicted. The most surprising thing for me was the complexity of the characters, whom go much deeper than the 2D images on the page.
            Year One is about personal struggles with identity, morality and trust. Its setting; Gotham city is complete dystopia, ruled by bent police and corrupt judges. The novel explores how two characters, Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon fight to bring back truth and justice to the city.
            Year One crushed my preconceptions of Batman comics, no self righteousness, and thankfully no POW!

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            23.07.2009 14:58
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            Batman Begins

            'Batman: Year One' is a classic Batman story written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli that first appeared in DC comics in 1987. The collected story in book form was chosen as the greatest Batman graphic novel ever by IGN Comics, who commented; 'No other book before or since has quite captured the realism, the grit and the humanity of Gordon and Batman so perfectly.' The story arc is, as the title suggests, an origin tale detailing the beginning of Batman's career as a costumed crimefighter and subsequently proved to be a very big inspiration to Christopher Nolan who liberally pilfered ideas from it when he was asked to reboot the Batman film franchise with 2005's Batman Begins. Even actor Christian Bale commented in an interview once that reading Batman: Year One made him take the world of comics more seriously and feel more comfortable about taking on the role of Batman.

            Batman: Year One begins with a young Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham city after many years away, mostly spent studying martial arts fighting systems and forensic and criminal sciences. Still haunted by the murder of his parents in front of him in Crime Alley when he was a child ("All sense left my life"), Wayne has an obsessive determination to revenge his parents and do something about the crime, moral decay and corruption of Gotham but he isn't quite sure how he will go about this. Also arriving in Gotham is a young detective called Jim Gordon. The idealistic Gordon is soon deep up to his neck in trouble and appalled by the widespread corruption he encounters working in his new city. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne ventures out on a surveillance mission and investigates the Red Light District of Gotham in disguise. He inadvertently gets into a fight with a pimp and a certain Selina Kyle before being shot at and arrested by the police. The bloody Wayne eventually escapes and broods alone in the darkness of his isolated country Manor. "What do I use to make them afraid?" he asks his dead father. As he contemplates, a bat smashes through a window and lands on a sculpture of his late father. Taking this as a sign, Bruce resolves to use the image of the bat, an image which he recalls frightened him in a half-remembered childhood incident, to intimidate the dark criminal forces of Gotham...

            An enjoyable tinkering with the history and origin of Batman, Batman: Year One is a clever and absorbing graphic novel that also fleshes out the backgrounds and beginnings of Jim Gordon, Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent and Catwoman and introduces crime boss Carmine Falcone.
            The comic won a lot of praise for its more down to earth, less camp and colourful, and more grainy 'real world' treatment of the character, an approach that Christopher Nolan duly adopted when he took over the film series. There is quite a nice symmetry to this book too in that Miller is also well known for the classic 'The Dark Knight Returns', a story which featured an aging Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to don the cape again, and here 'rebooted' the character for DC, presenting us with a 25-year-old Bruce Wayne at the start of his crime fighting career.

            The core of Batman: Year One is the developing relationship between Gordon and Batman which is very nicely handled and portrayed here. We see Gordon begin the story as a high-flying young detective and become embroiled in the murky politics and tentacles of the criminal underworld. The story shows us how someone like Gordon will come to trust an eccentric and mysterious vigilante like Batman more than anyone in the world. Batman: Year One benefits from not having outrageous villains with super weapons and daft colourful costumes. The baddies here are gangsters and policemen who have abused their positions of authority, lending a nice layer of realism and texture to the story. The lengths to which Gordon, an honest policeman in a city where even the Commissioner is on the take, has to go to fight corruption are quite hard-hitting at times and we can see how the experiences of Gordon and Batman will establish a close bond and eventually bring the two men together in a single cause.

            Although the book is quite talky, Miller always keeps you absorbed with an absorbing narrative, interesting characters and some witty lines. He's also good at creating tense action set-pieces, especially when Batman is trapped in a bombed out building with a rogue SWAT team after his blood, a scene that must have partly inspired the climax to Nolan's The Dark Knight Returns. Nolan's use of a 'sonic' bat device in Batman Begins is also a doff of the cap to Batman: Year One. Bruce Wayne/Batman refreshingly comes across as a relatively human comic book hero here who is somewhat tormented and capable of making mistakes and being beaten up if he gets things wrong. I liked the little moment at the start of the book where Wayne is returning to Gotham on a plane after many years away and ruminates; "I should have taken the train, I should be closer. I should see the enemy." I liked too the way that the story dealt with the murder of Wayne's parents relatively quickly in a flashback and then concentrated on the early months of Batman himself.

            This isn't the longest graphic novel ever printed by any means but the book still feels like an epic story. Although not as dark or subversive as Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One does throw in a few adult moments and story strands, most saliently in an extra-marital affair involving one of the characters and making Selina Kyle a prostitute prior to becoming Catwoman, inspired by Batman's nocturnal antics to pull on a costume and roam around at night herself. The depiction of Catwoman in Batman: Year One is quite interesting and she plays an important part in the story at key times, but this is essentially the story of Gordon and Batman and how they came to trust each other in a city where you can't trust anyone. Gordon is almost like a co-lead with Batman in this book. Another plus for the book is David Mazzucchelli's impressionistic minimalist art which has a certain noir quality and works very well with what is a grainy and sometimes dark story. Gotham is (naturally) depicted as a slightly nightmarish city of graffiti and dark corners.

            Overall, Batman: Year One is a compelling and enjoyable twist on the legend of Batman and sets a very high standard that only the top tier of graphic novels can attain. This is a nuanced and interesting story that keeps the reader absorbed and throws in plenty of incident and danger for our respective heroes.

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              22.07.2009 16:05
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              Very impressive, but could have been better

              I'm a relatively new fan of graphic novels - been reading them for about a year and having thoroughly enjoyed The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, I wanted to read Year One as well.

              Firstly I would say that while I did enjoy David Mazzuchelli's artwork in this book, I preferred the art work of Frank Miller in Dark Knight Returns.

              The book tells the story of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman and Jim Gordon joining the Gotham Police force. The young Bruce Wayne has been abroad training in martial artists for 12 years and returns to Gotham to take his revenge for the murder of his parents. After adopting the Batman persona he begins his life as a vigilante.

              Gordon meanwhile is making enemies within the force with his incorruptible attitude not sitting well within a force riddled with corrupt officals.

              Batman's success is also becoming a major headache to Gotham's crime families and it's corrupt police officials and the mayor decides to make Batman the target of a major manhunt - lead in part by an reluctant Lietenant Jim Gordon.

              The character building in this book is what stands out the most for me. Batman appear less invicinble in this story compared to most, as he is still honing his skills and his persona, he is not as assured as he would later become and is self-critical during this learning curve. Jim Gordon is a world-weary, flawed, yet powerful and determined man, looking for some good in a rotten Gothan City.

              This is a very good book, however i found it too short. I believe the subject matter could have been extended quite easily.

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              24.09.2008 11:32
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              Dark, gritty tales from the strets of Gotham

              In the mid-eighties DC comics decided to reinvent their universe. Not in the way they do on Elseworlds or alternative universes. No, this was to give all the main characters an upgrade and start from scratch. This was partly due to DC Comics running for so long, with so many writers and so many different versions of their heroes that they decided to streamline everything. So they started with Batman Year One.

              Frank Miller was up for the task of writing the new Batman origins and he was the right man for the job since he'd already be applauded for his work on Daredevil, Electra and The Dark Knight Returns.

              The style of the artwork by David Mazzucchelli is reminiscent of the original comic strip as drawn by creator Bob Kane in the 40s. Simple figures and lots of dark shading that tell this complex story simply but effectively with deceptive skill. There is a film noir feel to this artwork and it reflects the dark, gritty filthy Gotham that Miller writes so well.

              In Year One, straight away the ground rules are laid. It's set in the modern world (well 1986, but up to date at the time), and a weary looking Lieutenant Gordon is starting his job in Gotham City and comments in a voice over on how horrible the city is while he's on the train. In contrast we have Bruce Wayne coming back from a 12 year break and is a 25 year old man. Bruce has been away training in martial arts and many skills that will eventually make him Batman. The death of his parents still haunts him and he wants to put the world to rights. We see him trying to be an avenger in a simple disguise, but after getting shot, he slowly understands that he needs more than just strength, he needs something to inspire fear into his prey. And when a bat flies through his window he gets the message.

              One of the many strong points about Year One is that this isn't just about Batman, it's also about Jim Gordon as their stories run equally side by side. Jim's not a perfect man, but not a bad man. In fact, compared to the other police officers, he a downright saint. It's a dirty city full of dirty cops and slowly Gordon starts to clean up not only the city, but also his own police department. Because nearly all of them are corrupt and on he take and when Batman comes on the scene, he makes things difficult for the top gangsters and city hall people they have in their pockets. So the police are used a goon squad to hit hard if Batman's in the vicinity.

              Slowly but surely as the story progresses, Jim Gordon regards Batman less of a dangerous vigilante, to someone he can work with and trust.

              On re reading this graphic novel, I'm struck with how there really was a golden age of comic writing in the eighties. The Dark Knight Returns, The Watchmen, The Killing Joke, V For Vendetta to name a few. I have been reading a lot of so called modern classic comics and none of them come close to how brilliant these stories are. Batman Year One is no exception. It's pure joy to read.

              Also in the collected edition there is a healthy glut of extras. Storyboards, covers, sketches, scripts, ideas and even a child's comic strip of Batman.

              Worth re reading every few years or so. Especially as this is a template for Batman Begins. It more or less starts and ends the same. Interestingly enough, Year One was going to be the fifth Batman movie after Batman and Robin. And it was still going to be made by Joel Schumacher and it would have started from scratch again and would have ignored the first four films. Frank Miller even wrote a script, but Batman and Robin basically killed off the franchise. However in a way we still got it many years later with Batman Begins.

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                17.01.2001 03:55
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                Batman: Year One is Frank Miller's tale of Batman's first days under the hood. It is a very different Batman than many have become accustomed to - in this story, Batman makes mistakes, and you'll also find no supervillains - the crime that Bats fights in this story is the corruption within the Gotham police department, various pimps and thugs, and the Gotham Mafia. But Year One is not solely the story of Batman's first adventures - it also chronicles the story of James Gordon, who gets transferred to Gotham City, a while before becoming the Commissioner we know and love today. Gordon has to fight the corruption he finds in every officer around him, and finds himself fighting more against his companions than the criminals of Gotham. As Gordon starts investigating the strange 'Bat Man' people have started seeing in the city, he finds himself more and more attracted to a fellow officer at work. While Gordon struggles with this dilemma, we see Batman/Bruce Wayne in his first forays as a vigilante, including one disastrous occasion where a simple pimp-beating ends up with Bruce getting rather a nasty stab wound. The story, as one might expect from the writer who brought us 'The Dark Knight Returns', is beyond reproach. To my surprise, I found myself more interested in Gordon's tale than Batman's. Not that Batman's story was less interesting (far from it); it's just such a rarity nowadays to see such good characterisation in a supporting character such as Gordon. The artwork is moody and perfectly suited to the gloom and doom of Gotham and Miller's writing. I honestly can't fault any of this. In every area, Year One excels - artwork, story, characterisation and dialogue. Highly recommended.

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