1987: Batman – Year One

bat-yearThis is a much discussed, highly popular book. Written by Frank Millar with stellar visuals by David Mazzucchelli, this book has become one of 3 almost untouchable books, along with The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke, that changed how people view comic books and graphic novel in the late 80’s.

This book has been discussed time and time again throughout a multiverse of blogs, it’s been adapted into an animated film, and inspired both Batman Begins and parts of The Dark Knight. Most big comic fans know it. All big Batman fans know it. The story in these pages tells the early days of Batman’s war on crime as well as Gordon’s.

I love it.

And I don’t say that lightly. Yeah, I love this book, and I love the long halloween, and who doesn’t. But I don’t love it just because I’m supposed to. I’m supposed to love The Dark Knight Returns, but I just can’t. And I don’t love it for Batman. Yeah it gets more into the aspects of his origin that haven’t been dealt with quite the same as before, and yeah he has some great moments. But Gordon is the heart of this. It is about the inward struggle Gordon has to go through after moving to Gotham to convince himself to continue to do what he does. It is about the outward struggle he goes through, trudging through the shit that it the Gotham PD to be a respectable cop and do his job right. Yeah, he makes some mistakes along the way, mistakes that I wish he didn’t make, but maybe thats what makes him more human. Batman doesn’t deal with quite the same issues. His issues are more about learning how to manage himself on the streets and in battle. He is also learning how to stay under the radar and keep his anonymity. Very different struggles. 8-Gordon-vs-Flass

Best Gordon moment: In the first issue Det. Flass has Gordan “warned” about causing problems within the organization. Gordon then privately puts Flass in his place, by giving Flass, a much larger man, a baseball bat, and single handedly taking him down with no weapons off his own, leaving him naked and cuffed outside of his car. Brilliant. It’s what we all wish we could do to our enemies. We don’t want to destroy them, just let them know that they should back off if they know whats good for them. And he doesn’t even really cross any lines. Flass is a little bruised, but not bad enough to need to go to the hospital, and he gave Flass an advantage as well. Gordon gave it to a guy who had it coming to him.

Best Batman moment: All of Gotham’s crime lords and high powered figures who are getting paid off have gathered at Carmine Falconi’s house for a fancy dinner to discuss all things evil. Batman cuts the power and breaks through the window saying “Ladies. Gentlemen. You have eaten well. You’ve eaten Gotham’s wealth. Its spirit. Your feast is nearly over. From this moment on…none of you are safe.” Holy crap is that powerful. And terrifying. These are the moments that make me love batman.

Best Gotham PD moment: Batman escapes from a close brush with the law by calling on the help of thousands of bats, and escaping through their cloud. It’s a very iconic moment. But the embarrassing state he leaves his pursuers in is hilarious. Dozens of officers have been knocked out. Four hospitalized. One, with internal bleeding and broken ribs after Batman punched him though a brick wall. Commissioner Loeb personally follows the cloud for 12 blocks before realizing he’s been duped. One officer literally follows the bats until he drives off of a pier.  but this line tops it all: “Every member of Branden’s [SWAT] team, every cop, and everybody in the crowd were vaccinated for their bat bites. Never have so many had so much trouble sitting down” Excellent!

Issues with these issues: I don’t like the portrayal of Catwoman as a hooker. That doesn’t fit her character for me. Yeah, it makes her more edgy and maybe more contemporary, but it’s not necessary. I also don’t like that Gordon cheats on his wife. It is with the character that becomes his future wife, whom I like more, but it contrasts with the Gordon I respect. The Gordon who in The Killing Joke doesn’t buckle to the pressure of evil from the Joker that any other man would have. Again, its a real life struggle and makes him tarnished an more relatable, but there are other mistakes he could have made for that to be the case. It’s not something I respect, but I ignore it and choose to focus on the good he does in the story. I don’t really dig romance in my books anyways.

Why is this relevant in leading up to The Long Halloween? This directly leads into TLH and a closely related tale –  Catwoman: When in Rome. This sets up Carmine Falcone as a Gotham villain and introduces a new type of mobster element to Batman stories in the future. It also invites questions as to his relationship to Catwoman. TLH is in many ways a direct sequel to this book.

Thanks for reading.

Pictures from:,,

3 thoughts on “1987: Batman – Year One

  1. Nailed it. I especially agree with the Catwoman as dominatrix/prostitute angle–pure Millerism, and it just doesn’t fit with previous incarnations of the character, nor is it a terribly interesting choice. And, fully agree about the affair with Gordon–he’s the guy who doesn’t bend, completely straight arrow, and it doesn’t fit with the rest of his personality which is so lushly expressed in these pages.

    Liked by 1 person

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