Reap What You Sow
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its seventieth choice, Batman: Year Two: Deluxe Edition, by Mike W Barr, Todd McFarlane and Alan Davis published by DC and reviewed by Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Batman: Year Two: Deluxe Edition
Writer: Mike W Barr
Artists: Alan Davis and Paul Neary, Todd McFarlane & Alfredo Alcala, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
Colourists: Steve Oliff, Gloria Vasquez, Tom Ziuko
Letters: Richard Starkings, Todd Klein, Agustin Mas, John Costanza
Today’s choice comes once again from Batman’s publishing history. Batman Year Two ran for four issues in Detective Comics 1987. Written by Mike W Barr and drawn by Alan Davis and Paul Neary and then Todd McFarlane, it was intended to fill in a few gaps in the early history of the Dark Knight Detective. We are introduced to vigilante The Reaper, a more brutal figure who predates Batman, who reappears in Gotham, and the Dark Knight finds himself joining forces with a divisive figure from his past to bring him down. It isn’t quite as creatively satisfying as Batman Year One just because it changes artists after the first issue but Barr has still created a very compelling tale here.
Even though Davis and McFarlane couldn’t be more different as artists, it does hold together well. Davis’s art has a warmth and an empathy to it while McFarlane falls more into the gothic, darker side of Batman’s character. McFarlane sometimes even has flashes of art nouveau to his page construction as well, lending it a surprisingly elegant tone at times. It has that feel of a classic Batman story and it was originally published during Barr’s run with artist Davis.
The hardcover is bookended with Fear The Reaper, a one-shot which sees him seemingly go up against The Reaper once against, although the truth is a little more complicated as someone else has taken over the mantle. Davis is back, inked this time by Mark Farmer, and it feels like the reader is getting a sense of closure with his return. Davis displays here why he is still one of the finest storytellers of the past four decades.
Barr was one of the best regular Batman writers of the 1980s, able to balance light and dark with a rare skill and Batman Year Two is still a very masterful early Batman tale. Fear The Reaper is an equally adept bookend to the story of The Reaper. Batman Year One Deluxe Edition, issued to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this tale is a worthy inclusion to our 100 graphic novels.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far