Originally presented in Batman #404-408, this is writer Frank Miller’s other great Batman story, focusing on his early days rather than later days. But while The Dark Knight Returns seems to be the consensus favorite, I’ve always preferred the more down-to-earth Year One (though DKR might very well appear here before my year of positive reviews is over).
In Year One, Batman himself is the weirdest thing about his world. This is before the Joker, Mr. Freeze, and other colorful scoundrels have descended on Gotham City. (We do get some morally ambiguous Catwoman action, though.) Then-Lieutenant Gordon is the co-lead, and it’s basically a story of two flawed but good men trying to help their crime-ridden city in two very different ways. But maybe they can find some common ground and forge a productive friendship?
Artist David Mazzuchelli draws in an appropriately gritty style that produces several memorable Bat-images, and Miller’s tight story is constantly moving forward and gaining momentum.
Too often, writers portray Batman as so competent that he’s borderline superhuman, and that can be fun, but here we see an inexperienced Batman making mistakes and learning the ropes. This Batman is skilled but undeniably human, and that suits the character well.
If you enjoyed Batman Begins, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by reading this.
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: David Mazzucchelli
Publisher: DC Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Batman: Year One (TPB)
Appropriate For: ages 14 and up