Year One is quite rightfully considered one of the definitive Batman stories. The ‘year one’ idea is simple, it explores Bruce Wayne’s first year as the Batman. The idea worked so well that DC have done ‘year one’ stories for a large number of their other characters. And with Batman they have returned to Batman’s first year on the job time and again, in stories such as The Long Halloween, which along with Year One was an obvious inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s Batman film’s.
Many of my favourite Batman stories take place in this period of his career and many of these stories can be found in the series Batman – Legends of the Dark Knight. Launching about three years after Year One, Legends of the Dark Knight gave creators the freedom to write and draw Batman stories that are largely set in the Year One period but are stand alone, meaning that creators (and readers) are not held back or confused by the continuity of the regular Batman and DC comics. It means that you can know little more than the basics and still enjoy some great stories and, as I have done, you can read them out of order without any problems.
The first twenty issues of Legends of the Dark Knight contain four five part stories, all famous and highly regarded. The first story line, Shaman, takes place before, during and after Year One. While never grabbing me like Year One did, it has it’s moments. I enjoyed the first issue in particular, which features the last of Bruce Wayne’s globe hopping training before returning home to Gotham City to eventually become the Batman. And as with many of the Year One set stories this Batman is still learning and tends to be portrayed in a more realistic manor, unlike many later portrayals that show him as a near ultimate man. (These can be fun too, but some times go a little to far)
Following Shaman was Gothic, one of my favourite Batman stories. Featuring what may be Batman’s earliest encounter with the supernatural, this story was written by Grant Morrison, who had previously written the Batman story ‘Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth’ and would later write an extended run on the regular Batman titles that includes the truly mad Batman RIP ( I am currently working my way through these Morrison issues and may put something on here later)
The next story was ‘Prey’ which i just received in the post and will read shortly…