Graphic Classics blog

Batman: Year One (1987)

Written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli

This wonderful exploration of one of the great origin myths of comics is Frank Miller at his best. Batman is shown to be fallible and fumbling. He needs to find his way and at first he stumbles.

This is also the origin story of Commissioner Gordon. At this point, he is a lieutenant recently arrived into Gotham’s deeply corrupt police force. He has to deal with backstabbers, makes his own grievous mistakes, and beats the crap out of green berets.

Mazzucchelli went for a flat palette that is reminiscent of newspaper comics and a nice nod to the genus of the comic book. When he finds his footing, we see another great Miller vision of Batman. Batman becomes the coolly calculating, precise, and genuinely dangerous hero we know.

It is really fun to read this and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns for a kind of bookending of Batman: his beginning and his post retirement return to action.

—Christian Zabriskie