Batman: Year One

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Batman: Year One is a four-issue story arc, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, of the regular Batman title (issues 404 through 407), published in 1987 by DC Comics.

The storyline follows the first year Batman begins to operate in Gotham from his disastrous first attempt in Gotham's red light district, to the battles with crime lords and corrupt cops alike, and even the first appearance of other people in tights and masks in Gotham. It also has (in Batman #404) the first appearances of mob boss Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, who would go on to have prominent roles in The Long Halloween and Batman Begins, and Catwoman's protegee Holly Robinson, who would later become the second Catwoman.

Batman: Year One is unique in the following: It was deemed the official origin story for Batman Post-Crisis, and to this day is still canon. Also, Miller stated that it takes place several years before The Dark Knight Returns. In Miller's version of Batman, Year One is followed up by All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder, which takes place during Batman's third year.

There is now an Animated Adaptation that is almost word-for-word.

Tropes used in Batman: Year One include:

  • Amazonian Beauty: This version of Catwoman.
  • Author Appeal: Catwoman starts out as a prostitute. Yup, it's a Frank Miller comic, alright. Distressingly, Holly is also one, and she's only thirteen, if that.
    • This is one of the few parts of the book that has NOT remained in continuity, and was made so almost immediately.
  • Badass Boast: Batman's speech while he's "convincing" Skeevers to testify against Detective Flass.

Batman: You can never escape me. Bullets don't harm me. Nothing harms me. But I know pain. I know pain. Sometimes I share it... With someone like you.

    • And also:

Batman: 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.

    • Gordon deserves special mention as well:

Gordon (internal monologue): He's had Green Beret training. It's been a while since I had to take out a Green Beret. *tosses Flass a baseball bat* Figure I should give him a handicap.


Flass: "...I said posse"

  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Two words -- dominatrix Catwoman. The fact that such appeared in a Frank Miller comic isn't surprising.
  • Hero Stole My Bike
  • Hey It's That Girl: Eliza Dushku voices Selina. She makes Faith look nice and sweet.
  • Jerkass Facade: Bruce Wayne, of course. Though in the animated film, Sarah Essen believes (correctly) that Bruce is acting like that to throw away suspicions of him being Batman.
  • Kick the Dog In a poor attempt to act affable, Flass gets rid of a frail Buddhist monk who's nagging Gordon for donations by picking up the monk by the collar and tossing him aside like a rag-doll. He also beats up a kid in order to steal his comb.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: Gordon
  • The Mafia: Since this is Batman's first year out, pretty much none of his iconic Rogues Gallery has shown up yet. Thus, these guys take the role of the bad guys.
  • Neck Snap: Catwoman does this to a random mook using her legs, which is somewhat of a character violation as in the modern-day comics Catwoman almost never kills.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not mess with Jim Gordon's son.
  • Post-Crisis: This is Batman's origin told for the Post-Crisis DCU, removing the weirder bits from the earlier eras.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Bruce, obviously.
  • Save the Day Turn Away: Batman saves Gordon's baby without his mask. Gordon says he's blind without his glasses, and tells Batman to flee the scene before the cops arrive.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Gordon has these when he's pissed off.
  • Sequel Hook: The last few frames is of Gordon revealing he received a letter from a guy calling himself "The Joker" who is threatening to poison Gotham's water supply.
    • More like a Midquel Hook, since there is a graphic novel titled Batman: The Man Who Laughs which tells the story of Batman's first encounter with The Joker.
  • Skintone Sclerae: Particular to the film.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Ironically, the corrupt Detective Flass and Commissioner Loeb seem to be the only cops that don't smoke.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Though a well loved series, one common complaint is that the book feels more like "Gordon: Year One" than "Batman: Year One". Indeed, his story makes up the bulk of the comic, and he certainly steals the show.
  • Super-Hero Origin: The entire focus of the story, quite obviously.
    • It's also the origin story for Gordon as well.
    • It almost counted as Catwoman's origin, but got retconned out as quickly as possible.
  • Unreliable Voiceover: At one point, a corrupt detective is narrating the story while Batman attacks him for taking money from drug dealers. Naturally, what he says and what happens are polar opposites. When Gordon beats him up earlier in Chapter 1, he thinks that said cop will doubtless make up a story about twenty attackers and never admit the truth.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Bruce's first night home to Gotham, he patrols the streets "just for recon". It quickly turns into an epic screw-up where the prostitutes he thinks he's protecting attack him, the cops shoot him without question, and he nearly bleeds to death.
    • But it teaches him that he needs to instill fear into the hearts of criminals, who are a cowardly and superstitious lot...
      • And then his first foray as Batman - stopping a trio of burglars - he nearly screws that up as well. Then again, this is an origin story: He has to start learning how to be The Batman...
  • Wretched Hive: This story portrays Gotham at its dirtiest.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Gordon cheats on his wife Barbara with his partner, Det. Sarah Essen. Both know it's wrong, so Sarah requests a transfer to another city, and Jim eventually confesses to Barbara, vowing to work on their relationship. Also, Commissioner Loeb tries to blackmail Jim into "playing nice" by showing him pictures of the affaire and later calling Barbara to tell on him. (By then, Jim has confessed, and Barbara quickly blows them off. This results Loeb taking drastic measures.).