Feb 8, 2011

Classic Material- Batman: Year One

11:33 PM

This is the one book that along with Watchmen-- I evangelize to non-nerd friends on being a must read comicbook.  Why?  Crazy-talk fool.  This is one of the most influential, repeatedly mimicked, flashback noir tale that pits a young Bruce Wayne and Lieutenant Gordon against the savage, relentless underworld of Gotham City.  Batman: Year One was truly the game-changer of all stories on the Dark Knight that could only have been told by the mighty triumvirate of Frank Miller (words), David Mazzucchelli (visuals) and Richmond Lewis (colors).

Let's just jump right into this badboy.  Gordon is transferred to Gotham PD with a somewhat rocky past.  His fellow cops and Commish think he will fit in nicely, well until Gordon presses on of his impeccable "honesty."   Not quite the most impressive trait to have in a room full of douchebag five-Os.  Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham after an 18 year hiatus and looks to start cleaning up the streets of his hometown.

Both men separately wage their own personal crusades on making things "right" and find that everything around them has a different perspective on how Gotham should be. 

While Gordon realizes just how corrupt his brothers of the shield are, he gets a Louisville slugger beatdown with threats to his life if he continues to not follow suit and start being on the take-- like the majority of the GCPD.  Bruce starts to immerse himself in the streets to get full understanding of what he is up against.  Undercover, he comes across a bunch of prostitutes and does a good job of pissing off their pimp.
After slapping him around a bit, Wayne finds himself engaged in a brawl with the whole harem and out of nowhere comes the queen of the whores-- Selina Kyle!

Bruce and Selina do their dance when the GCPD come to break things up and nearly kill Bruce Wayne.  Somehow he is able to break away from the punk cops and in a lucid, near-death trance a huge bat crashes through his window and inspired takes on the totem of the Bat.
In his first outings in costume, Wayne is satisfied with how the striking change in his appearance gives him an edge and though it works for him-- Batman is far from the hand-to-hand tactician we know him as today.  But seeing Batman get knocked silly by mere street-thugs and shot by cops is what makes this story so good.  
Hey, look guys the Batman wasn't always the badass, scary jerk that we love!   Sightings of  
the Batman stirs fear amongst gangs, cops and the rest of Gotham so the corrupt Commish tasks Gordon with taking down the Batman at all costs.  Gordon begins to see that the Batman may not be all that bad for Gotham, but pursues his investigation that brings him to prime suspects-- hotshot, District Attorney- Harvey Dent & playboy, millionaire- Bruce Wayne.

Batman can no longer avoid the crooked power hold over Gotham's supposed finest and in a desperate situation where he has a bullet in his leg, no utility belt and less than a few tranquilizers within his gun-- we see how resourceful he can be facing over a dozen SWAT with an unlimited arsenal.  Batman uses his environment, a loud cat and the superstitious, fear-ridden cops to overcome the ridic odds, oh and he saves the cat-- which is all witnessed by who-- yes, Lt. Gordon.
With Gordon and Batman coming closer and closer on loosening the power-monopoly held over Gotham by the Falcone family and other political figure-heads-- a hit is made out on Gordon, which leads very close to home.  Thanks to his bravery and understanding of  what he is up against, Gordon and his wife overcome the mob, in shock he unknowingly shoots Bruce Wayne who is in civilian clothes, (hello?! the Batman only comes out after midnight!!) but was there to help in the shadows.

Some of the thugs drive off with their son-- who is pursued by Wayne and in a miraculous act-- jumps after Gordon's son, only to save the innocent and keep the promise he made with Jame's wife- Barbara Gordon.

Gordon, who lost his glasses in the scuffle, thanks who he believes (this is up for debate) is Batman for saving his son and tells him to leave before the GCPD arrive.
Miller's simplistic, believable, non-superhero approach in retconning the origins of Batman was ahead of it's time and only amplified by the greatest artwork achievements of David Mazz (yes, Lewis' art color scheme was very Daredevil-esque) with overuse of pink, yellow and purples hues but it worked here.

As we move closer to do release of  the Allstar Superman animated flick in the end of the month that brings us even closer to the next DCU movie--Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (released prior to the film) and then, yes--Batman: Year One.   Gotham Knights Online worked a fab interview directly with the creators of Batman: Year One , the animated film- Bruce Timm and Lauren Montgomery. 


Holysh*t balls Batman!


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big O
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