"Is it too late to tell you that I don't mind?" - The Decemberists, I Don't Mind
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzacchelli (DC Comics). I don't know why it is such a struggle for me to include graphic novels as legitimate titles on my 52 in 52. I don't know why the addition of illustration somehow makes compelling story less of a "book" in my mind but it does. I need to get over it. Especially considering how much of it I've been reading. I'm making some mental justifications for what can get included. Batman: Year One makes it because its hard bound, it initially was the base material for what (for the most part) was the very cerebral Batman Begins of this summer -- competing with Kung Fu Hustle as my favorite film of the year -- and because Frank Miller is just very good.
I like the idea of looking at the world of Gotham mostly through the eyes of Jim Gordon - an upstanding policeman new to a wholly corrupt police force and city. I like a Batman knew to crime fighting. Unlike the film, we don't follow the moral trajectory of Bruce Wayne much in the graphic novel. His story is more a physical one. He's not as prepared for the criminal element as he thought he was. He realizes he can't do it alone. He begins searching for an ally in a sea of enemies. All while Jim Gordon, just a man, is bending under the pressures of his seriously screwed up life.
I like all of that. I'm just not a fan of Mazzucchelli's art. It is a throwback style reminiscent of the early days of comics. Square jaws, soft strokes, sloppy but intricate detail. The dark and heavy inks are more contemporary but it isn't the style I like in my comics (although, oddly, I kind of enjoy it in Powers). This is a minor quibble, though, because I see why he was chosen. Batman looks more human than hero. These characters look like real people in a real world of grit and grime. A world in need of people willing to take risks in the face of so much evil.
Maybe this is why I've been so drawn to the world of comics lately. We are a world so desperate for people willing to take a risk for right...and not lose their humanity in the process. That might be the true morality play of Year One.