Batman: Year One – Frank Miller

(with David Mazzucchelli and Richmond Lewis.)

I’d seen this graphic novel around for some time now, probably since I got hold of The Dark Knight Returns and I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to read it. To be quite honest it seemed to me as though there would be no real story to it, how could they make the origin of Batman interesting when we know so much about it?

Then I saw the trailers for Batman Begins and I started to get excited that this movie could be a return to form for the Batman franchise and that perhaps it was time to seek out the graphic novel again, before the movie stole the story.

So how could the origin of Batman be interesting? Because it’s not just his origin, but also Gordon’s, Catwoman’s and the Gotham around him.

The style that it’s drawn in does strike me as looking very early in the history of the cartoon strip, perhaps in a 50’s style. I’m not too sure having not read anything from that era, but it certainly gives that feeling. Throughout the novel that really helps you to fall back into the idea that this is all history.

Frank Miller has done an excellent job on the story once again, he’s a superb writer, weaving the different characters stories together to a superb climax, and explaining Batman’s motivations and complete humanity perfectly. What I like about these graphic novels is that they are grounded in a reality of sorts, it’s always kept in the mind of the writer and artist that they are real people. In Wayne’s case, just trained very hard and equipped with hi-tech gadgets. This comes across well and it’s never hard to suspend your disbelief as everything is kept so grounded, and since it’s the origin, so simple.

An excellent tale for the beginnings not just of Batman, but also Gordon and an interesting new look at the birth of Catwoman.

It certainly leaves you wanting for more of the Bat. My only reservations about the book are that it’s too short, all over far too quickly, and there could be a lot more of a focus on the people, their motives and what’s going on in their minds. This focus falls on Gordon well, but a closer look at Wayne would have been equally interesting.

Batman: Year One – Frank Miller

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