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Book Review: BATMAN: YEAR 100

Author: Bill Ramey
Friday, January 19, 2007

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
"Collecting the acclaimed 4-issue miniseries by visionary creator Paul Pope! In Gotham City, 2039, a federal agent is murdered, leaving The Batman, a forgotten icon from the past, wanted for the murder. And as a special bonus, Pope's 'Berlin Batman' story set in 1939, from BATMAN CHRONICLES #11!"

When I first got back into comics back in late ‘05/early ‘06, I saw one of the issues of BATMAN: YEAR 100 during a visit to my comic book store. Flipping through it, my initial reaction was, “Meh. Not interested.” I thought that The Batman looked goofy and the “YEAR 100” concept was, well, stupid.

Boy, was I dead ass wrong!

BATMAN: YEAR 100 by Paul Pope was one of the best Batman stories that I’ve ever read.

One thing I particularly loved about this book is that it offers one of the most realistic versions of The Batman I’ve seen. The design of his costume -- in particular the cowl, boots and utility belt -- actually make sense. He grunts, gasps, pants, and bleeds. He sleeps and even eats!

Set in the year 2039 -- 100 years after the first appearance of “The Bat-Man of Gotham” -- B:Y100 is a tale of a government gone bad and one man’s stand against it. It’s a tad V FOR VENDETTA-ish, if you will, but definitely all Batman.

Even though its 32 years into our future, things haven’t changed all that much. In fact, sans a few items such as holographic phones and whatnot, this story could be taking place in the present day. One of the things I dislike about any story set in the “future” is that writers want to gimmicky it up with all sort of high tech, futuristic gizmos. Thankfully, Paul Pope avoids that cliché here.

As the story begins, we encounter The Batman running atop the roofs of Gotham, bleeding, and pursued by a pack of angry dogs. A federal agent has been killed and the government thinks that this masked vigilante -- this “Bat-Man” -- is the killer. The thing that pisses off the feds more than anything is that they don’t know who the hell this Bat-Man is. For a state where secrets are not allowed, that is unacceptable.

Soon, we are thrown into a world of a tale of conspiracy, secrets, and even international terrorism in the form of a powerful "super weapon."

As the story progresses, we discover that The Batman has allies: a young guy he calls “Robin” who sort of works as his protégé/technology manager/mechanic; Dr. Kris Gross who serves as his, well, doctor; and, the good doctor’s young daughter (Tora Gross) who’s the computer whiz ala Oracle/Barbara Gordon in today’s comics. This is, as Gordon describes it, his “set up/clean up crew.”

Yes, I said "Gordon."

Also included in the story is a Gotham Police Department captain named Jim Gordon. Captain Gordon just so happens to be the grandson of the original Jim Gordon -- one of The Batman’s greatest allies. Will this Gordon and this Batman form a “Gordon/Batman relationship? That is an important part of the story too and you’ll have to read to find out.

Basically, the U.S of 2039 has become a dystopian police state that tries to keep an eye on everything. They use fear and intimidation to keep everyone and everything in check. Even a city’s own police force is a police force in name only -- given way to a federal law enforcement agency called the “FPC.”

There’s no Joker, Two Face, or Mr. Freeze in B:Y100. The government is this story’s supervillain.

There are many mysteries in this story, but probably the greatest of them all is the actual identity of The Batman. Is he a new Batman? Or is he the one true Dark Knight? And if the latter is true, could Bruce Wayne possibly be well over 100 years old? Again, you’ll have to read to discover the truth, but Pope provides clues throughout the story, and we do find out the ID of "The Bat-Man of Gotham" the very end.

Well, at least I think we do.

BATMAN: YEAR 100 by Paul Pope
Jose Villarrubia (colors)
Jared K. Fletcher and John Workman (letters)
$19.99 (USA) $26.99 (Canada)
Buy BATMAN: YEAR 100 from AMAZON.COM

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
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