DC Database

Batman: Year One was published from February to May of 1987 and ran through issues #404-407 of the regular Batman comic book series. In 1985, DC Comics sought to streamline a shared continuity which had become bogged down by over fifty years' worth of stories. This ambit

Quote1 Without warning it comes... crashing through the window of your study... and mine... I have seen it before... somewhere ...it frightened me... as a boy... frightened me... yes, Father. I shall become a bat. Quote2
Bruce Wayne src

Year One is a Batman storyline written by Frank Miller with illustrations by Dave Mazzucchelli. It was published in 1987 through the Batman series, as a new origin story for the character. This is one of many Post-Crisis reboots, establishing the DCU's history following Crisis on Infinite Earths. It's considered to be the first canon Batman story in New Earth continuity.


Publication History

Batman: Year One was published from February to May of 1987 and ran through issues #404-407 of the regular Batman comic book series. In 1985, DC Comics sought to streamline a shared continuity which had become bogged down by over fifty years' worth of stories. This ambitious initiative culminated in a company wide "cosmic reboot" which took place in the twelve issue maxi series Crisis on Infinite Earths. As such, many of DC's more infamous characters were provided with new, updated origins – Batman included.

The origin of Batman remains true to the original vision first described by writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane. It briefly recaps the events which led to the deaths of his parents Thomas and Martha Wayne, while adding a psychological imbalance to the character that had not existed in previous origin stories. Bruce Wayne's loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth is likewise re-introduced, however the character is shown to be more acerbic and sarcastic in demeanor than longtime readers may remember – a trait that has been maintained in both comics and external media throughout the years.

The popularity of Frank Miller's work inspired other creators to expand upon the Year One concept. Two in-series stories were published aptly titled Batman: Year Two and Batman: Year Three. Robin and Batgirl have both had their own Year One limited series, and Nightwing had a six-issue Year One story within his own title. In 1995, all of the DC Comics Annuals for that year featured a singular Year One story. Between Batman, Robin and Catwoman, six Year One annuals were published between them. Other projects have been helmed which helped to flesh out the story of Batman's early years including Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman: The Man Who Laughs, Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory.


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"Yes, father. I shall become a bat."

Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City, 18 years after the death of his parents. Lieutenant James Gordon transfers to the police department in Gotham, trying to put his troubles in Chicago behind him. Commissioner Loeb partners Gordon with the corrupt Detective Flass, who is uneasy with Gordon's refusal to break rules. Bruce returns to his butler Alfred at Wayne Manor, and continues his physical training with no clear goal. Flass has Gordon beaten with baseball bats by other cops, enough to send a message without putting him in the hospital. Gordon later runs Flass off the road in his car, then tosses him a baseball bat and beats him up the same way. Bruce begins his career as a vigilante by posing as a drifter in the East End. He meets the underage prostitute Holly Robinson, and fights her pimp Stan. The prostitute Selina Kyle attacks him to protect Holly, and this conflict gets him arrested. Bruce breaks out of his handcuffs and totals the cop car to escape, then drags both the officers to safety. Bruce crawls to his father's study, knowing he'll bleed out and die if he doesn't ring a bell for Alfred to come save him. He remembers the night his parents were killed, and asks his father for inspiration, as he'd rather die than wait another hour. Without warning, a bat comes crashing through the window, and he decides that he will become a bat.[1]

Batman 014

"Ladies. Gentlemen. You have eaten well."

Gordon is driving to work when he receives a call from Stan Merkel. There's a schizophrenic holding children hostage, and the carelessly violent SWAT officer Branden has been put in charge. To save the children from Branden, Gordon puts down his gun and defuses the situation himself. He gains favor with the press, and Loeb begins looking for ways to take him down. His pregnant wife Barbara is disappointed when he's called away from home to deal with "a bat." In his first outing as Batman, Bruce attacks some teenage burglars and almost dies. Five weeks later, there are dozens of reports of a bat-monster systematically taking down criminals. Gordon is put in charge of an anti-Batman task force with a cop named Sarah Essen. Batman interrupts a dinner of Gotham's wealthiest and most corrupt at the Mayor's mansion. He blows a hole through the wall with explosives and tells them that none of them are safe from him. Loeb cracks down on Batman when mafia don Carmine "The Roman" Falcone is left tied up and naked. Gordon suspects that Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent is Batman, and Essen guesses that it might be Wayne. Gordon meets Batman for the first time when Batman dives in front of a truck to save an old lady, right in front of him. Batman escapes at gunpoint to an abandoned tenement. Gordon calls for back-up, and Loeb has Branden firebomb the building despite Gordon's protests.[2]

Catwoman 0144

Selina Kyle becomes Catwoman

Branden's SWAT team corners Batman in the tenement, and 18 men are sent to shoot him on sight. Batman loses his Utility Belt but survives, although some winos are not so lucky. He systematically takes down the SWAT officers one by one. Selina Kyle and Holly Robinson arrive to watch the spectacle, along with many others. Batman escapes using ultrasonic technology that attracts every bat in the county. He steals a motorcycle and drives off in a swarm of bats, disappearing before they dissipate. Gordon begins having an affair with Essen, and fighting with his pregnant wife. Selina punches out her pimp, then leaves with Holly. She spends her savings on a cat costume, taking inspiration from Batman to become Catwoman.[3]

James Gordon 0020

"I've got a friend coming who might be able to help."

Essen transfers to New York City when they decide to end their affair. Gordon arrests notorious drug kingpin Jefferson Skeevers, who has ties to Loeb and Flass. Dent allows Skeevers to be released on bail, so Batman can intimidate him into testifying. Skeevers turns over on Flass, who turns over on Loeb. Gordon visits Wayne Manor to check Bruce's alibis, and Bruce puts on a convincing show as a drunken playboy. Loeb threatens to tell Barbara about Sarah, so Gordon tells her himself. Barbara finally delivers, and they have a son. Catwoman gets upset that Batman is receiving credit for her crimes, and decides to scratch her victims' faces as a signature. Batman listens in on the Roman while he is hiring Johnny Viti as a hitman. Catwoman interrupts this meeting to rob Falcone, and meets Batman for the first time. Batman takes out the bodyguards while Catwoman scratches Falcone, and they both escape. Bruce realizes Falcone is targeting Gordon, and drives to his house in daylight with no costume. Viti tries to kidnap Gordon's baby, but Gordon chases him down in a firefight. They tumble over a bridge, and the baby falls. Bruce leaps in and saves the child's life. Gordon remarks that he cannot see Batman without his glasses, and tells him to leave before the cops arrive. In the aftermath, Loeb goes down and gets replaced by Commissioner Grogan. The Roman goes to war with his sister, Carla Viti. Gordon gets promoted to Captain and begins seeing a marriage counselor with Barbara. Batman and Gordon begin working together, meeting on the rooftop. Gordon remarks that someone has threatened to poison the reservoir, a man calling himself the Joker.[4]



There have been several companion stories written to Year One, expanding on details and providing background information. Selina Kyle's story is expanded in Mindy Newell's Catwoman mini-series titled Her Sister's Keeper. Jim Gordon's reasons for leaving Chicago were explained in Dennis O'Neil's mini-series Gordon of Gotham. Some events taking place in-between Year One were expanded on the first storyline of the title Legends of the Dark Knight, called Batman: Shaman.

It is also canon for Batman's comics taking place after Superman: Reborn, alongside Batman: Zero Year.


Since the publication of Year One, several other stories have continued its plot threads. Mike W. Barr wrote a Year Two storyline about Joe Chill, and Marv Wolfman wrote a Year Three storyline about Robin. Ed Brubaker's The Man Who Laughs follows up on the ending to Year One, portraying Batman's first meeting with the Joker. Jeph Loeb's The Long Halloween continued many plot threads, explaining the downfall of Carmine Falcone and the rise of costumed villains. Matt Wagner's Golden Age homage Dark Moon Rising explores the gap between Year One and The Long Halloween.

The feature film Batman Begins also uses many of the same characters and themes and the whole storyline was later adapted into an animated movie of the same name.



  • Collected in "Batman: Year One" trade paperback and the "Complete Frank Miller Batman" hardcover editions.


  • Superman is referenced twice in this story, meaning he is already active at the time of Batman's debut. Barbara references him as the "Man of Steel" in Metropolis, while remarking on how steely Jim's muscles are.[2] Alfred also suggests Bruce take up flying, "like that fellow in Metropolis."[4]

Recommended Reading

Links and References

Batman Blind Justice TP
Batman Family Storyline
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This event or storyline is specifically related to Batman, or to members of the Batman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Batman Storylines category.

The Man of Steel 1A
Post-Crisis Reboot
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After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, a 19851986 maxiseries which completely reset the continuity of the entire DC Universe, all of DC's major characters and franchises needed to be updated to reflect the changes in the events of their lives. Multiple story arcs were put out to explain these rebooted versions of popular characters.