The TOP 13 BATMAN Countdown — #2: BATMAN: YEAR ONE

There need never be another…

In celebration of Detective Comics #1000 and Batman’s 80th anniversary this week, we’re counting down the 13 GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER — from all media — as selected by a panel of 16 experts, including such luminaries as former DC publisher Paul Levitz, legendary Batman artist Neal Adams and comics writers Ron Marz, Tom Peyer and Fred Van Lente. For a complete rundown of how the vote was conducted and the full list of panelists, click here. The countdown is running daily across 13 days and will culminate in THE ULTIMATE BATMAN READING AND VIEWING GUIDE, which will feature every single Batman story cited by our panel.


Next up on the countdown:


Written by Frank Miller. Illustrated by David Mazzucchelli.

Origin stories are tempting to do and difficult to master.

Get it wrong and it’ll be rejected by readers almost as soon as it’s published — with no shortage of rancor attached.

Get it right and your story can become a benchmark for generations — regardless of what others may try to do in your wake.

Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli got it right.

OK, that’s an understatement. Because what they accomplished in 1987 with Batman: Year One is not just the Dark Knight’s best origin story ever, it’s the last word on the subject: We don’t need another version — even though we’ve gotten them — because this stands as the definitive account.

In four issues — Batman #404 to #407 — Miller and Mazzucchelli produced a taut, noir thriller that at first blush appears limited in scope but is deep with characterization and humanism.

The heroes are flawed but they are heroes nonetheless. The villains don’t wear costumes — and they’re all the more frightening for it. To this day, I’ve yet to read — or see — a Batman story that better encapsulates what it would be like if the Caped Crusader existed in the same world as you and me.

Christopher Nolan came close with his trilogy — as vital as it is — but you can still see the big-budget, studio fingerprints all over it.

Instead, I can only imagine what Stanley Kubrick could have done with this story in 1956. Or what Martin Scorsese could have done in 1976.

We’ll never know.

But that’s cool. Because we can still read Batman: Year One over and over again.

And then again after that.

A few of our panelists weigh in:

Dr. Christy Blanch, comics scholar and writer, put Batman: Year One at the top of her list. She wrote, simply, “Perfect art. Perfect comic.”

Chris Franklin, co-host of Batman Knightcast, added: “Arguably more of a Jim Gordon story, Batman and Bruce Wayne are well represented nonetheless. Miller gives us a real Gotham more corrupt than we ever thought imaginable. Batman here is still the shining paragon of old, even with more depth than we often saw before.”

And Mark Reinhart, writer of The Batman Filmography, noted: “Miller’s sensibilities regarding the Batman character turned out to be every bit as compelling when applied to the start of the crimefighter’s career as they were when applied to the end of that career.”

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NEXT: The #1 PICK is…


The Complete TOP 13 BATMAN COUNTDOWN. Click here.

The Complete BATMAN WEEK Index of Features and Tributes. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Frank Millar on BATMAN, not a fan. I’d put Adams or Rogers way over his take on the character. The darkness of the late ‘80s post-crisis was the beginning of the end for my reading days.

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  2. I tend to agree with Buck above, although “Batman: Year One” is definitely in my personal Top 13 list. It’s a great story. But Miller’s impact on the character gradually changed Batman into a borderline psychopath and ushered in the Dark Age of comics. None of that was for the good.

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  3. I’m guessing Buck and Matte41 won’t be too thrilled with the #1 pick. 😉

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    • I will reserve my comments until tomorrow. I am far more dumbfounded that “The Long Halloween” did not make the Top 13

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  4. I’m gonna guess aRKHAM aSYLAM. 🙂

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