…and as per usual, you’ll have to have read this one in order to participate and know what in the ever-loving hell I’m talking about.
“Weird for weird’s sake.” Batman: Year One certainly covers that category in all its postmodern glory.
The Crime Blotter definitely gives a feel for Gotham City, with all the crime running rampant right in front of and even involving police officers. The first of our Comics Code offenders. It’s like Gotham’s finest are proud of the city’s crime issues, and at least one person isn’t afraid to come right out and say so, such as the way Slam Bradley announces each incident. Though humorous, his “The Perp Liked Pistachio” piece is pretty straightforward on who’s involved in the crime, and he states it without fear of retribution for doing so.
There’s a nice contrast in the beginning between Gordon’s and Wayne’s internal dialogues. Not that they’re opposite from one another in thoughts, but rather, while Gordon is on the train thinking about putting his wife on the plane, Wayne is on the plane thinking he should be on the train. They both know just where the “bad” parts are, where the criminal element is. Gordon comes off rather quiet, even meek at first, except internally. He’s an observer, watching everything silently, but with precise attention to detail. At the same time, Wayne shows supreme confidence on the outside, but he’s not really all that confident about how to deal with the task he’s set before him.
We have a superhero who isn’t a “super” like Superman in Action Comics #1. He has no super strength, though he’s been through some good training, has self-doubt, and he maybe even has a little arrogance, such as when he thinks he’s ready, gets cocky with the pimp, and is injured, thereby realizing he’s not quite ready. He makes mistakes, bad judgment calls. Wayne isn’t completely living in the past, yet he doesn’t know exactly how to proceed to the future he’s laid out and feels he needs to move toward. He’s weakened physically from blood loss near the end of chapter one, but as the past haunts him, it weakens him as well. It makes him human. The beauty is that the Wayne/Batman story also shows us you can have all the money in the world and still be miserable.
In the next chapter, we see Wayne more sure of himself when he saves the old woman from the moving truck, while Gordon is considering a path that would go completely against the Comics Code.
Questioning Batman’s humanity could be important for a few reasons. Corrupt or not, I’d think the police would have an easier time in dealing with (i.e. killing) Batman if they didn’t think of him as human, mostly because just what kind of human does the things Batman does? Also, he’s quick, “flies,” and it only takes one of him to take several others out of the game, so in the officers’ minds he just can’t possibly be human because no human can do that. The interesting part about that is if you relate it to what happened with Gordon, it runs parallel. One man standing against several men.
Catwoman relates to Batman more than she would Gordon in that she goes against the corruption, in a sense, but does so while wearing a costume. After seeing Batman at the warehouse, and his command of the bats, she runs home and makes her Catwoman costume, deciding to change her “profession.” Since she’s a thief and looks to gain recognition, I wouldn’t really call her a vigilante, though she is targeting corrupt people.
The bat attack scene shows Batman’s technology and his intelligence to create such things, especially with the explanation given in the internal dialogue not only of the device, but also his knowledge of the creatures. I see him as a much stronger character at this point, less self-doubting. I believe the police now do think of him differently, and they’re afraid of him, especially if he has the “power” to call the bats, a creature many people are frightened of anyway.
Miller put so much energy into designing the interpersonal conflict Gordon experiences to show that Gordon is a human with flaws, thereby creating a more realistic character and not just some two-dimensional image. Every panel showing the relationship changing was imperative in Gordon’s complex development so that the reader could believe he truly was good when he made the right choice in the end. The reader had to experience his wrong decisions first to see his flaws, and such design creates a well-rounded and believable character. Essen also makes the right choice in transferring. I think Gordon’s and Batman’s lives are still running parallel in that they’re both heroes at this point, both gaining the trust of the people of Gotham, and both are one man standing against the corruption of several men.
In the end, Wayne presents himself as just a man and not Batman after saving Gordon’s son so that Gordon understands he’s just trying to help and that he trusts him. Gordon’s proven himself somewhere along the way to Batman/Wayne, and Gordon seems to understand the risk Wayne has taken, since he’s apparently “blind” now.
You do not want to ask me, a writer and author, where the text might go next because this will turn into a really long post. I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more on Catwoman, however.
What did you think of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One? As always, play nice.