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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    Default How Does Batman Year 2 Hold Up As A Sequel To Batman Year 1?

    Mike Barr might be the most underrated Batman writer in his 80+ year history. He strikes the perfect balance between the upbeat Caped Crusader of the Silver and Bronze Age and the brooding Dark Knight of today.

    I love Batman Year Two. It features Batman at the lowest point we've ever seen him, shunning his friends, reluctantly working with the man that killed his parents, and contemplating the murder of an out of control villain. Despite seeing Batman doing things we never thought we would see him to, Year 2 nevertheless has a very classic feel to it. The art by Alan Davis and Todd McFarlane is breathtaking as well.

    However, while I still love the story today as much as I did the first time I read it, reading Batman Year 2 right after Batman Year 1 is downright surreal.

    In his introduction to the trade paperbacks, Mike Barr stated that Batman Year 2 was 75% remnants of a rejected proposal for a Batman origin story called Batman 1980. Knowing this explains quite a deal, because Year 2 is really only a sequel in name only to Year 1:

    -None of the characters introduced in Batman Year One such as Holly Robinson, Arnold Flass, of Sarah Essen appear here.

    -While James Gordon is very much the protagonist of Year One, his role in Year Two is much more minimal.

    -In a contrast to Batman Year One being relatively timeless, Batman Year Two is somewhat of a period piece. We see leftovers from the hippie generation and the fact that The Reaper operated 20 years ago in the 70s, firmly planting this story in the 197os.


    Probably the weakest part of Batman Year Two were plot holes and lack of strong character motivations?

    -The story never shows how Bruce Wayne found out that Joe Chill killed his parents. I don't think Joe Chill's name was even mentioned in Batman Year One.

    -It was never made clear why Batman felt he needed to kill The Reaper with a gun aside from some generic "you have to fight fire with fire" one liner. As indicated by the last page of Year One, Batman would have already fought the Joker at this point, so there doesn't seem to be a reason to abandon his no kill rule.

    -Why is Leslie Thompkins sleeping over at Bruce Wayne's house? Bruce offers to give her the penthouse on top of the Wayne Foudation building, but she still has a home in Gotham.

    -It wasn't necessary for Batman to jeopardize his relationship with Gordon and the GCPD to work with the mob.

  2. #2
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    It's been a long time since I read Year Two. Come to think of it, I might be due a re-read

    From what I remember, I don't think Year Two is even really a sequel to Year One in any sense, apart from the name. It certainly doesn't pick up where Year One left off. Year One ends with the very beginning of Batman and Gordon's alliance (with Gordon having just been promoted to Captain), and with Batman having dealt a severe blow to the Mob and GCPD corruption and just heading into his first encounter with the Joker. Year Two, the name notwithstanding, seems to be set quiet some time later (possibly a few years) - Batman is now an established presence in Gotham (he's wearing the classic blue-and-grey with the yellow oval), and Gordon is already Commissioner and his partnership with Batman has been publicaly known for a while and is starting to become controversial. There's no follow-up on the Mob and GCPD related plot-lines from Year One, or the emergence of the Joker or Catwoman, and the Batman-Gordon relationship has already leaped forward to the familiar status quo.

    I think, as Mike Barr said, this was a pitch for a standalone story that they then slapped the 'Year Two' label on to market it as a sequel to Frank Miller's seminal work, but otherwise has no connection to it. The real sequels to Year One are books like The Man who Laughs, The Long Halloween, the Dark Moon Rising minis, and the LOTDK series as a whole.

  3. #3
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    Personally, I've never particularly liked Year Two*.

    Maybe part of that is using the 'Year' title and measuring it against the predecessor (it's even close to being in the same league). It is fun but I find it throwaway and a little frustrating.

    I'm not a big fan of the structure, nothing really feels all that fleshed out and it's themes aren't explored with much depth. It was predictable, while still having the characters act a bit off. They kind of jump through big decisions/moments that make a cool splash page without delving into motivations or having the character question or wrestle within themselves.

    That said, I do feel it works a lot better when read together with Full Circle.

    I might be wrong but I believe this introduced the post-Crisis version of Leslie Thompkins, a character I am a big fan of.

    In it's favour, at least it's not Year Three. Now THAT is a pile of garbage.

    *Ironic, as it is the direct inspiration for Mask of the Phantasm, one of my favourite Batman stories in any media.
    Last edited by exile001; 01-17-2022 at 04:36 AM.
    Theorising that it could travel within its own timeline, DC stepped into the Crisis accelerator and vanished. DC awoke to find itself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not its own, and driven by editorial to change history *for the better* *to be more cohesive* *Silver Age nostalgia* *for the sake of it*. And so DC finds itself leaping from Crisis to Crisis, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that the next leap will be to a perfect DC Universe…

  4. #4
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    I agree with the Mike Barr love. His Ra's al Ghul graphic novels are absolutely amazing, especially the first one. I really wish he'd gotten a longer career on one of the main Batman titles and had a chance to show off his more serious side. His short Detective run with Jason is more lighthearted, not that that's a bad thing. I really like Year Two and the Reaper is probably my favorite Batman villain. But I agree the tonal difference between Year One makes it hard to call it a true "sequel". Barr has addressed this multiple times so it's not a big secret. Also, it is kind of strange that they leave so much of Judson's backstory blank - but it was filled in with some Who's Who profiles, and then marvelously by Alan Brennert in the Black Canary story from Secret Origins #50. You should check that out if you haven't.

    It's pretty strange that Denny O'Neil disavowed Year Two so quickly. It was never mentioned again (to my knowledge) outside of Barr and Brennert's work, and Matthew K. Manning's 2011 "The Batman Files", until Tomasi codified it into Rebirth canon with that Detective Annual. It's interesting to imagine what Batman lore would look like if Year Two was considered one of those building blocks of Batman canon in the way that Year One was, and if it wasn't steamrolled by Long Halloween and Dark Victory.

    Also, the art by Davis and McFarlane is amazing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Hunter View Post
    The story never shows how Bruce Wayne found out that Joe Chill killed his parents.
    The mob puts them together and then he recognizes Chill from when he saw him as a kid. I don't know how that was unclear.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleGlovez View Post
    I agree with the Mike Barr love. His Ra's al Ghul graphic novels are absolutely amazing, especially the first one. I really wish he'd gotten a longer career on one of the main Batman titles and had a chance to show off his more serious side. His short Detective run with Jason is more lighthearted, not that that's a bad thing. I really like Year Two and the Reaper is probably my favorite Batman villain. But I agree the tonal difference between Year One makes it hard to call it a true "sequel". Barr has addressed this multiple times so it's not a big secret. Also, it is kind of strange that they leave so much of Judson's backstory blank - but it was filled in with some Who's Who profiles, and then marvelously by Alan Brennert in the Black Canary story from Secret Origins #50. You should check that out if you haven't.

    It's pretty strange that Denny O'Neil disavowed Year Two so quickly. It was never mentioned again (to my knowledge) outside of Barr and Brennert's work, and Matthew K. Manning's 2011 "The Batman Files", until Tomasi codified it into Rebirth canon with that Detective Annual. It's interesting to imagine what Batman lore would look like if Year Two was considered one of those building blocks of Batman canon in the way that Year One was, and if it wasn't steamrolled by Long Halloween and Dark Victory.


    Also, the art by Davis and McFarlane is amazing.


    The mob puts them together and then he recognizes Chill from when he saw him as a kid. I don't know how that was unclear.
    Year Two is part of Rebirth canon? I had NO idea!

    Again, haven't read it for a while, but I think the main consequence of the story as far as the larger narrative goes is Batman discovering Joe Chill. Apart from that, I don't think it would necessarily have changed a lot about Batman lore. Though I guess LOTDK and stories like TLH would need to write around it a bit (even so, Year Two, it's name notwithstanding, feels like it's set a few years after Year One, and not just the following year, so there's enough of a gap there for other stories to slot in).

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bat39 View Post
    Year Two is part of Rebirth canon? I had NO idea!

    Again, haven't read it for a while, but I think the main consequence of the story as far as the larger narrative goes is Batman discovering Joe Chill. Apart from that, I don't think it would necessarily have changed a lot about Batman lore. Though I guess LOTDK and stories like TLH would need to write around it a bit (even so, Year Two, it's name notwithstanding, feels like it's set a few years after Year One, and not just the following year, so there's enough of a gap there for other stories to slot in).
    I disagree. Batman eschewing the GCPD, allying himself with Gotham's criminal underbelly, and contemplating to murder a villain feel like decisions only a Batman in his first year would make.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bat39 View Post
    Year Two is part of Rebirth canon? I had NO idea!
    Yeah, he even keeps Batman using a gun, which is cool. Detective Annual #2. Sets up some stuff that hasn't been followed up on as long as I know. The only thing he leaves out is the Joe Chill story, and he says Bruce never saw Rachel again, which seemingly precludes Full Circle and the Retroactive 80s special. Also, Bruce says his dad told him stories of the Reaper as a kid, which contradicts Alan Brennert's "Guardian" from Gotham Knights #10, where Bruce has supposedly never heard of the Reaper (which is pretty bizarre considering he's supposed to know Gotham like the back of his hand). One thing that disappoints me about all of DC's Year One stories is they completely abandon the actual year-long structure that Frank Miller's had. It would be so cool if Year Two and Three were actually like that.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Hunter View Post
    I disagree. Batman eschewing the GCPD, allying himself with Gotham's criminal underbelly, and contemplating to murder a villain feel like decisions only a Batman in his first year would make.
    Okay, I guess I'm due a re-read then soon. Though I would disagree that all the things you've mentioned are something only a Year One-era Batman would do. A relatively less experienced Batman, probably. But not necessarily a total rookie. Especially in a scenario where he's discovered the murderer of his parents, and he's up against a murderous vigilante who has longer roots in the city than he does.

    From what I remember, I saw Year Two as being a story set right at the end of Bruce's solo pre-Robin career...which theoretically could be his second year, but could also be his third or fourth year. I guess the actual amount of time is irrelevant. But what's clear to me is how this isn't Batman shortly after the ending of Year One. This isn't a Batman who's just dealt a severe blow to Carmine Falcone and forged an alliance with Jim Gordon. This is a Batman who's been around a while and who's been working with Gordon (who's now Commissioner) for a while. He's no longer the vigilante hiding in the shadows waging a secret war against the Mob...he's very much a hero in the public eye (hence the classic New Look suit).

    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleGlovez View Post
    Yeah, he even keeps Batman using a gun, which is cool. Detective Annual #2. Sets up some stuff that hasn't been followed up on as long as I know. The only thing he leaves out is the Joe Chill story, and he says Bruce never saw Rachel again, which seemingly precludes Full Circle and the Retroactive 80s special. Also, Bruce says his dad told him stories of the Reaper as a kid, which contradicts Alan Brennert's "Guardian" from Gotham Knights #10, where Bruce has supposedly never heard of the Reaper (which is pretty bizarre considering he's supposed to know Gotham like the back of his hand). One thing that disappoints me about all of DC's Year One stories is they completely abandon the actual year-long structure that Frank Miller's had. It would be so cool if Year Two and Three were actually like that.
    Interesting! Will definitely check it out.

    What is the current story with Joe Chill? I suppose it's most likely the New 52 version where Bruce encounters Chill when he's 18, just before he sets off on his travels across the globe? Or is it the Morrison version where he drives Chill to suicide during his first year or so as Batman? Or have they restored the classic pre-Crisis version?

    And I agree...Batman would definitely know about a vigilante who predated him...unless that vigilante operated in near-total secrecy!

  9. #9
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bat39 View Post
    What is the current story with Joe Chill? I suppose it's most likely the New 52 version where Bruce encounters Chill when he's 18, just before he sets off on his travels across the globe? Or is it the Morrison version where he drives Chill to suicide during his first year or so as Batman? Or have they restored the classic pre-Crisis version?
    From what I remember he was last used in Endgame by Joker in a weird, meaningless cameo. He was alive but might have been killed off.

    I read he was also in Three Jokers, but that's non-canon.
    Theorising that it could travel within its own timeline, DC stepped into the Crisis accelerator and vanished. DC awoke to find itself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not its own, and driven by editorial to change history *for the better* *to be more cohesive* *Silver Age nostalgia* *for the sake of it*. And so DC finds itself leaping from Crisis to Crisis, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that the next leap will be to a perfect DC Universe…

  10. #10
    Not a Newbie Member JBatmanFan05's Avatar
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    I'm a big Mike Barr fan, I have met him many times, but I'm not a fan of Batman Year Two. Working with the mob & Chill, the gun...none of that worked for me.

    The only aspects of it I recognize as canon are The Reaper stuff.
    Last edited by JBatmanFan05; 01-19-2022 at 09:02 AM.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile001 View Post
    From what I remember he was last used in Endgame by Joker in a weird, meaningless cameo. He was alive but might have been killed off.

    I read he was also in Three Jokers, but that's non-canon.
    Gregg Hurwitz's Dark Knight #0 issue was the official Joe Chill origin, and he also appeared in a Darkseid War Batman special by Tomasi, but actually, I would wager that Three Jokers is going to be the official conclusion to the Joe Chill story moving forward in canon. I actually kind of hope it is. I really liked what Geoff Johns did with him and Bruce. Feels "classic", like it deserves to be the "true" version. But that's just me.

    Quote Originally Posted by bat39 View Post
    From what I remember, I saw Year Two as being a story set right at the end of Bruce's solo pre-Robin career...which theoretically could be his second year, but could also be his third or fourth year.
    The old Who's Who profiles stated point-blank that the Reaper was Batman's final solo case before the death of the Flying Graysons. In the 80s and 90s, Year Three was always presented as Robin's debut year, with his parents' death taking place the year prior, so at least there was some attempt at maintaining a timeline.

  12. #12
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    As a 12 year old or younger it held my attention even less than Year One and I didn't like Year One. I think because the only name that held my attention was Joe Chill while Year One had Catwoman, and while I like the art better since it's more detailed it also made the blood and murder scarier.
    That said The Reaper is a far more memorable and preferable villain than Falcone
    Whereas Year One I remember the story but not interested in the villain, Year Two is the opposite. I don't remember what The Reaper's deal but his visual and violence sticks

  13. #13
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    I love Year Two as a story all on it's own. But as a sequel to Year One I have to agree. It's an odd follow-up. But I will join the chorus saying that Mike W. Barr is a VASTLY underrated Batman scribe. His run with Alan Davis is still everything I want a Batman comic to be.
    Keep in mind that you have about as much chance of changing my mind as I do of changing yours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    As a 12 year old or younger it held my attention even less than Year One and I didn't like Year One. I think because the only name that held my attention was Joe Chill while Year One had Catwoman, and while I like the art better since it's more detailed it also made the blood and murder scarier.
    That said The Reaper is a far more memorable and preferable villain than Falcone
    Whereas Year One I remember the story but not interested in the villain, Year Two is the opposite. I don't remember what The Reaper's deal but his visual and violence sticks
    I'd argue that Year One doesn't really have a 'villain' in the traditional sense. Yes, there's Carmine Falcone, but ultimately it's more a story of Batman and Gordon having to fight against the crime and corruption of Gotham, which seems to center around Carmine Falcone, but doesn't really begin or end with him. The climax of Year One is not Batman and Gordon taking down Falcone, but rather Batman saving Gordon's child from a kidnapping attempt, preventing Falcone from being an impediment in Gordon's crusade against the GCPD's corruption while also forging the alliance between Batman and Gordon that will strengthen and unify their respective crusades. So I'd argue the real 'villain' in Year One is just the corruption of Gotham.

  15. #15
    I am a diamond, Ms. Pryde millernumber1's Avatar
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    I really like Year Two. It's not a direct sequel to Year One - that's Shaman.
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