I’m not a big reader of American Comics, I really have very few of them, but since a few months ago our local comic bookstore (BD Geek in Antony, I highly recommend it) was celebrating Batman’s 80th birthday by offering a comic for the purchase of 2 Batman comics, I went there with my daughter, and we each chose one book. My choice was this “reboot” of the genesis of Batman by Frank Miller.
I told myself that if I liked the Batman universe, I might as well start with an initiatory story. And so it was Frank Miller who did it in the late 80s at the request of DC Comics.
The story of Batman is well known, the reason why he became this tormented vigilante too, so there’s no question of rewriting history. Miller has chosen to develop the early career of Batman, a young adult who has returned from intensive training that made him a superhero wanting to take on evil in Gotham, even before he chose a bat as his role model. He’s still clumsy, reckless… and he hasn’t yet made the acquaintance of police officer James Gordon, the only one who knows his identity.
And that’s where it gets interesting! Miller also tells the story of Gordon’s arrival in town, a little bit of his personal story, his weaknesses, his strengths… We witness the birth of two characters at the same time in this comic book.
The story is dark (surprise!) and the graphics are excellent in my opinion. There are few colors and it renders well the dark atmosphere of the city and the characters. It’s sober, there’s a lot of ellipsis in the story but you often get into Bruce Wayne and James Gordon’s head, thanks to thought bubbles in which they speak in the first person, and it improves the understanding of the story.
One thing I liked about this edition is that it is enriched with texts and materials provided by David Mazzucchelli and others. He recounts how he discovered Batman as a child, how he started drawing him at the age of 6, and the progress he has made in 20 years! There are also copies of plates of the original version of the story that appeared in episodes on a newspaper magazine: the rendering is totally different, with much less color.
Another element of these bonuses that I liked a lot is the copy of several pages of Miller’s original synopsis with the first corresponding plate sketch by Mazzucchelli. I find it fascinating to see the author translate his vision of the story into text, with indications of layout, and the layout of the cartoonist, who adds his own style, to the text.
Very nice work also at the colorist who redid all the colors for the following versions of the Comics on normal paper.
Verdict? I loved it! I think I’ll read more Batman… once I finish the almost 40 unread comics I already have 😅