THIS WEEK: With very few new comics this week, the DC Round-Up crew is still writing about some of our favorite classic DC stories, and this week we’re looking at an oft-forgotten classic of Batman’s early days, Batman: Year Three.
Batman: Year Three
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciller: Pat Broderick
Inkers: John Beatty, Michael Bair
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
Covers: George Pérez
Batman’s early career is well documented, be it the seminal Year One by Miller and Mazzucchelli, The Long Halloween by Loeb and Sale, or Zero Year by Snyder and Capullo. Then there are the lesser-known but still prominent early stories, things like Year Two by Barr, Davis, and McFarlane or Prey by Moench and Gulacy. But one that gets forgotten a lot and is one of my favorites is Year Three. It’s written by one of my favorite writers, Marv Wolfman, with covers by my all-time favorite artist, George Pérez.
Inside, Pat Broderick delivers pencils that are very much the house style of the 1980s, drawing on inspiration from people like Pérez and Jim Aparo. Sometimes, his faces are a little bit too similar, that it can be hard to distinguish between his Bruce Wayne and his Dick Grayson. Where Broderick excels though, is the flashback sequences.
Unlike the two early-day stories that came before it, Year One and Year Two, Batman: Year Three is mostly told through the lens of what had been the contemporary Batman. This is a Batman who is reeling after Dick Grayson has become Nightwing and shortly after the Joker had murdered Jason Todd. It’s a Batman who has become even more violent and unhinged. He’s leaving a path of destruction in his wake that rivals that of the criminals he’s trying to put away.
The story itself focuses on the release of Tony Zucco, the man who killed Dick Grayson’s parents. While we’re dealing with that and a potential gang war in the scenes set in the present day, Wolfman and Broderick also take us back 11 years, to the moments in which Robin was born. As always, Wolfman shines at delivering one-liners for Dick, and especially in the Robin flashbacks, this is evident. My personal favorite is “‘Punk?!’ ‘Who cares?!’ My first appearance in public and this is how you greet me? I’m highly offended.” Dick’s wit comes through often in these four issues and brings light to what Robin adds to the Batman dynamic.
Year Three also serves as a bridge between two of the most important Batman stories in the 1980s. I already mentioned how close after Death in the Family it is, but it also serves as a direct lead-in to A Lonely Place of Dying, including a blink and you’ll miss it first appearance cameo of a very young Tim Drake. Because it’s sandwiched between those two huge moments, Year Three often gets forgotten and ignored. These issues were some of my first Batman books, included in shrink-wrapped four-packs sold at KB Toys. To this day it’s still one of my favorite Batman arcs, and one that I’m glad is finally collected.
- Hey, comics are back! Not a lot yet, but there are new comics.
- The best of this week’s bunch is Harley/Joker: Criminal Sanity #4, which is getting more and more into the meat of its story, and into the character of Harley.
- Batman and the Outsiders #12, on the other hand, was very lackluster and disappointing. It didn’t feel like the end of an arc, and really does nothing to keep me interested in continuing the series.
- Other books out this week are: Hawkman #23, House of Whispers #20, The Flash #753, and The Green Lantern: Season Two #3.
Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!