Book Review: Batman- Year One

Credit: Batman: Year One (1988)


For anyone that is a fan of comic books, we all know the origin story of Bruce Wayne and his super hero alter-ego, Batman. So, how does it start? A young Bruce Wayne and his parents had just watched a show at the theatre in the fictional Gotham City, and then the trio are approached by a man wielding a gun. Martha and Thomas Wayne are killed, and this results in a life of mental health issues and emotional retribution for the child who will become "the Batman". In 1988, Frank Miller released a comic book series revolving around Bruce Wayne's first years as Batman, so we can suggest the character might have been in his early 20s at the time. Interestingly, this was one of the first times comic books fans had the opportunity to read about Bruce Wayne's first year or so as a superhero. I must confess, the first time I read this graphic novel was in 2015. However, it is a personal favourite of mine. Within Miller's 1988 graphic novel, readers witness a scene where Batman attempts to stop a small robbery. Two burglars attempt to steal a television from an apartment building, and when Batman tries to stop them, one of the men nearly falls to their death. However, Batman saves the man's life and claims through the ominous narration, "I'm not a killer!". Moreover, this statement from Batman reminds readers that Batman is not the type of hero who will take another person's life, considering he knows what it means to lose someone.

Credit: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

The Book Itself:

So, what is this story actually about? For fans of the Gotham television series, the first season (2014-2015) integrated several aspects from this 1988 graphic novel. For instance, characters such as Carmine Falcone play a major role in the story, specifically with the interests of Jim Gordon from the fictional G.C.P.D.

"The story recounts the beginning of Bruce Wayne's career as Batman and Jim Gordon's with the Gotham City Police Department. Bruce Wayne returns home to Gotham City at the age of twenty-five from training abroad in martial arts, man-hunting, and science for the past 12 years, and James Gordon moves to Gotham City with his wife, Barbara, after a transfer from Chicago. Both are swiftly acquainted with the corruption and violence of Gotham City, with Gordon witnessing his partner, Det. Arnold John Flass, assaulting an African-American teen for fun without any fear of repercussions." (

According to this particular story, Bruce Wayne officially becomes Batman at the age of twenty-five. His narrative as the caped crusader operates side-by-side with Jim Gordon's first years as a police officer in Gotham, specifically. Interestingly, their partnership is tested in this book as Gordon does not initially approve of the whole "Batman" concept, as he believes Gotham should be protected by those of whom are trained lawn enforcement.

The partnership between Batman and Jim Gordon is one of the most recognizable from the comic book world, throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Bruce Wayne's role in this book, is working as the "extra assistance" Gotham's police force needs- in order to stand a chance against Gotham's criminal underground. Keeping that in mind, this 1988 book is just as much about Jim Gordon, as well. For instance, the type of individuals Batman wants to minimize in Gotham, some of them actually work for the G.C.P.D. With respect to the nature of Detective Arnold Flass, Gordon grows tired of his smug attitude and his lack of humility, so he provides him with the beating he deserves about half-way through the book. Furthermore, this reminds readers that Jim Gordon should be taken seriously.

"After refusing a proposition from teenage prostitute Holly Robinson while visiting Gotham's red-light district, Bruce is reluctantly drawn into a brawl with her violent pimp and is attacked by several of Holly's fellow prostitutes, including dominatrix Selina Kyle. Two police officers shoot him and take him away in their squad car, but a dazed and bleeding Bruce breaks his handcuffs and causes a crash, dragging the police to a safe distance before fleeing. He reaches Wayne Manor barely alive and sits before his father's bust, requesting guidance in his war on crime. A bat crashes through a window and settles on the bust, giving him the inspiration to become the Batman." (

Drawing from the above statement, this provides readers an alternate origin story for Wayne's inspiration to become "the Bat". Also, we get a glimpse of Wayne's natural sense of heroism. Interestingly, Wayne's moment of seeking guidance from a statue of his father serves as somewhat of a red herring for what is about to happen. Considering that DC Comics are known for their "darker" storylines, perhaps it is fair to believe the statue of Thomas Wayne might have started talking back to Bruce? Instead, Bruce gains his inspiration from a sheer coincidence.

My Rating:

Since this is a book review, it was important for me refrain from including serious spoilers for the book's main narrative. Not only did Frank Miller include alternate origin stories for Bruce Wayne, and Jim Gordon; Miller introduced Selina Kyle as more than her usual portrayal as a thief. I really enjoyed reading Batman: Year One, and it has resulted in my reading of a large amount of Batman comics within the last five or six years. In terms of rating this book, it was very well done. Not only was the story compelling and refreshing, David Mazzucchelli's "classic" style of illustration made this feel like an intense and captivating origin story.

Credit: Batman: Year One (1988)

My Official Rating: 8.5/10

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