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Graphic Novel Review: "Batman: Year One" by Frank Miller

Updated on April 4, 2021
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Batman: Year One graphic novel cover.
Batman: Year One graphic novel cover. | Source

Quick Info

Author: Frank Miller
Publisher: DC Comics
Published: January 10, 2007
Page count: 144
Availability: in print, buy on Amazon or your local bookstore, streaming on DCUniverseInfinite

Batman: Year One has Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham after spending years overseas. He tries to fight crime on his own, but fails in his first attempt, realizing that he must instill fear in his enemies; he decides to become a bat. Jim Gordon has just arrived in Gotham and must deal with the corrupt police force, causing him to have run-ins with Batman.

The Character Dynamics Make This a Great Story

I enjoy this story because it’s not just about Batman, it’s about James Gordon, and he’s just as important as Batman in this story. I also like how Batman interacts with Gotham’s criminals before all the crazy supervillains showed up.

Batman: Year One is an interesting story because it doesn’t feature any of his well-known supervillains that make up his rogues gallery. Batman has to carry the story because the mobsters aren’t able to have a big presence as Joker does.

James Gordon arrives in Gotham City.
James Gordon arrives in Gotham City. | Source

This Was Written Before Frank Miller Went Crazy

I also like Frank Miller’s writing, but this is before he started writing Sin City and went into Cloud Cuckoo Lander territory and hopped aboard the crazy train and never got off.

The writing is good and I enjoyed the story and Frank Miller did a good job on Batman: Year One. I like the character interactions and showing how Bruce Wayne became Batman. I also liked his characterization of Jim Gordon as well.

It is disappointing that Frank Miller has never been able to keep the quality of writing that he had when he wrote this graphic novel, because people don’t just remember him for Batman: Year One, we remember him more often for his insane and nonsensical writing in All-Star Batman and Robin, the writing of that graphic novel has become a meme at this point. And it’s disappointing because he’s written stories that are so good, and yet, while we do remember him for great stories like this one, we also remember him for how ridiculous his writing is too.

This is a comic that put him on the map for many comic book fans along with Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It also influenced Catwoman, Selina Kyle's origin story too.

This Is the Origin Story Everyone Remembers

When it comes to Batman’s origin story, we’ve seen it in various movies and comics, but Batman: Year One is the graphic novel that everyone remembers when you talk about the comic book version of the Batman origin story.

Frank Miller did not change much about the origin story and it had been portrayed many times in DC Comics, but Frank made it so iconic that almost all versions of the origin story in film and animation take inspiration directly from Batman: Year One.

This book is so old now but it’s still on every Batman fan’s recommended reading list and that’s what made this book so good, despite the fact that the setting is extremely dated technologically but it doesn’t matter, because it’s a timeless story.

Bruce finds the answer to how he will make criminals fear him.
Bruce finds the answer to how he will make criminals fear him. | Source

The Artwork Isn’t Really Something I Like

David Mazzucchelli’s artwork is okay. I don’t like the art style, but it still looks better than Tim Sale’s artwork in Batman: The Long Halloween. It’s still good art, just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d suggest looking at some pictures on Google before blind buying it if you buy based on artwork.

The artwork’s weird art style is one of those things you’ll either love or hate. While the art does make the fight scenes look unique, I just feel it looks kind of ugly, but that’s just my personal opinion since most people do like this art style.

While I personally don’t like the art style, I know there are many fans who do, art is always subjective, but if you like this art style you’ll definitely enjoy the graphic novel.

Parental Rating

This comic is recommended for ages 13 and up due to language, violence, drug use, and adult situations.

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This Is the Batman Origin Comic That Set the Standard

Batman: Year One is one of Frank Miller’s best graphic novels and it’s one of the many titles that people remember him for, and it’s not ridiculous writing like his later works.

It’s a story I enjoy, but I don’t read it that often. I mainly have it in my collection because of how iconic it is. It’s a great story but not one of my favorite Batman stories. It’s still one I can highly recommend despite my personal dislike of the artwork, because art is subjective, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that you won’t.

Quick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Work:
Great writing, characters, and worldbuilding
The comci lacks iconic Batman villains
It's a memorable version of the Batman origin sotry
The artwork ix either hit or miss depending on if you like it
It's an influencial comic book

My Grade: A

I highly recommend Batman: Year One to any Batman fan who wants to get into comics, especially if you haven’t started reading comic books yet. It’s a solid story, your mileage may vary on the artwork, but it is a must-have for comic book owners. If you’re curious about it but don’t want to pay for it, see if your local library has it. It’s well worth your time and money.

Batman: Year One is a comic that is also a great starting point for people looking to get into Batman comics. It’s not quite one I would blind buy, but you can try to see if you’ll like it by borrowing it from your local library if it’s in the system. I blind bought this because I read reviews that said it was great; I didn’t like the art that much. I don’t hate the art, but I feel it just looks a little too weird.

If you don’t like the artwork based on the pictures then you can watch the animated adaption which changed very little in terms of adapting the source material of this comic, so I do recommend reading it, but only buy it if you feel it’s something you’ll want to own.

It is a comic that all fans of Batman must-read. It is one that has become very influential in Batman’s story and lore. It’s also a great comic as well. While not all of Frank Miller’s writing is the best, this is one of his better works that I can recommend.

My Rating

5 stars for Graphic Novel Review: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller

© 2019 ReViewMeMedia


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