Following up on his 1986 renovation of the Batman myth with "The Dark Knight Returns", Frank Miller teamed with David Mazzucchelli to produce "Batman: Year One", a novel retelling of how Bruce Wayne came to don tights to fight crime.
Miller's Gotham City is a corrupt and festering cesspool, much as he would later depict in his Sin City series. Two good men come to town to clean things up: Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon, a new detective on the Gotham police force fresh from his role in cleaning up another police department.
Wayne himself has returned to his hometown after a long absence, during which he trained himself to become a vigilante. Wayne's first foray into crimefighting nearly ends in disaster, but leads him ultimately to adopt the Batman motif to frighten criminals. Gordon becomes his unlikely ally as he strives to clean up Gotham's police department.
The writing remains more mature and gritty than the typical comic book fare of the time. Batman is not the invincible denizen of the dark we've come to know and love, but an awkward guy in a goofy costume who seems always to be within an inch of death. Gordon is no paragon of virtue either; the main subplot deals with his affair with another cop while his wife waits to give birth to his son.
The result is a gripping, gritty, and ultimately redeeming tale which once again reinvents the familiar figure of the Batman.
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