Year One: Two Paths Cross and A City is Changed Forever
Gotham City is in need of a hero. Prostitution, thievery, corruption, drugs, and much worse happens each and every day, but on this special day, two heroes make their way towards the derailed city, sprouting hope and light onto the darkest of corners of Gotham City. Batman: Year One covers the coincidental first year of Bruce Wayne’s vigilante days and Jim Gordon’s rampage through Gotham City Police Department’s corruption. Writer Frank Miller, along with illustrator David Mazzucchelli and colorist Richard Lewis, create what I believe to be one of the best blends of story and art in comics. Not only does Year One give you a dramatic interpretation of these two Gotham heroes’ green days, it also portrays it with an artistic flow that will keep you glued to the pages. For this Year One easily became the first comic book I fell in love with, it’s on another level.
Origin stories can be over-dramatic and over-planned, glorifying a great power with little flaws, a “straight-from-the-womb perfection” that is just not credible in some heroes, Batman being one of them. We all know the story of Bruce Wayne’s parents being shot down outside the theater, but what I am more interested in is how he became such a great tactician, sure he trained, but what kind of problems did he encounter while practicing these tactics in real world scenarios? Like being thrown into the championship game after riding the bench all season, these real life situations can cripple any normal human being with nerves, take that and add a thug with a knife coming at you, and you got a vigilante trying to put his training into play while his life is on the line. What I love about Year One is that we see these situations and the mistakes Batman makes during them, he doesn’t automatically know how to take out a crack-head and a pimp with swift kicks and one-two combos, he has some trouble, he even takes a bullet of two along the way.
This is how I like to get to know a character and their humble beginnings, I like to see Gordon get beat up by his Gotham City Police Department partners because he is too straight-laced, I like seeing how scared Batman is of killing someone during his first robbery break-up mishap, I feel like I truly get to know the characters in these positions, I get to really feel how they would react. Year One lets you really witness the vulnerability of Bruce Wayne as he first dons the Batman suit, you get to see how impatient he is, how it digs at him when he knows he needs experience but he can’t wait to get out there and scare-straight every bad guy he can find. And alongside Batman’s shaky first ventures into crime fighting, we keep an eye on Jim Gordon, now just Lieutenant, as he tries to deal with a pregnant wife and a clearly corrupt police force, all while having to figure out what the hell to do with this nut that is terrorizing the city in a bat costume. The juxtaposition of these two stories, these two heroes trying to save a city but who are against each other, it makes Year One such a compelling story and such a perfect origin story not just for the two heroes, but for Gotham City itself.
As we all know, although they start with constant struggle, battling each other with force and wit, Batman and Gordon ultimately create a great partnership, one which we witness the dramatic beginnings just at the tail-end of Year One. Let’s be real, if we didn’t finish off on a good note, Gotham City would be chaos. With mentions of Falcone, The Roman, Catwoman, and a slight hint at The Joker, it’s good to know these two heroes join forces for the good of the city. Year One also shows Harvey Dent completing the trifecta needed to end all corruption in Gotham, but we all know how that ends… oh Harvey, you had such promise. But we’ll continue that one in my next Batman review, when I dive into The Long Halloween.
– Nahuel F.A.