[World of Bats] Batman: Year Three

Welcome back to the World of Bats, the Batman Book Club!

This past month we’ve been progressing through the early years of Batman’s history, first with the historic Year One, and then the more infamous Year Two, so why not keep the series going? Today we’re going to start reading Batman: Year Three, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Pat Brodrick.

Any thoughts, questions, and statements to the Gotham Parole Board can be said down below, and of course we have some discussion questions to get things moving:

  • Unlike the previous two stories, Year Three has a current story with flashbacks to the early days when Batman first met Dick Grayson. Do you like this mix of storytelling, or do you wish there was more focus on the past like in One and Two?

  • This story is as much the story of Dick Grayson, both his origin as Robin and who he is at the time of publishing as Nightwing. What do you think of these issues as an origin story for him, and how would you compare it to similar stories before or since?

  • In this story, we see how different Batman is than he was in the past due to the death of Jason Todd, acting wildly and erratically. Do you think this is a good example of the idea that “Batman needs a Robin” to keep himself from going too far?

  • What was your favorite moment within this story?

Unlike the last two weeks, DC Universe doesn’t have this story wrapped up in a handy-dandy collection link, so I have to actually do some hotlinking! One like = one prayer. :pray:

Batman: Year Three Reading List

Batman #436

Batman #437

Batman #438

Batman #439

If you wish to join the World of Bats and see some of the previous club entries, you can check out the link to our club HERE. If you have any questions about the club, you can contact me, @Jay_Kay, and/or @AquamonC137 and @BatJamags.

Thanks for reading, and looking forward to discussing this book with you guys! :batman_hv_6:

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This “Year ___” is the odd one out. Year One and Year Two were practically simultaneous projects in the two main Batman books, but while their names were a marketing gimmick to get people buying both Bat and 'Tec, this one is more like a cash-in on the name. (But hey, at least they called it Batman: Year Three and not Robin: Year One, am I right? :stuck_out_tongue: )

That said, the one good thing about the Y3 title is that it firmly establishes when Dick joined Bruce in the post-Crisis timeline. Of course, that will go out the window once The Long Halloween and Dark Victory totally screw up the timeline and insert an additional two years into the mix, but what can you do?

The other odd thing about it is that it’s not only a Godfather Part II-style narrative, but that it feels as much like a setup for the debut of Tim Drake as it does an effort to recount the events of Batman’s third year. Maybe that’s why so many other retellings of Dick’s debut came afterward (e.g. Legends of the Dark Knight #100 by Denny O’Neil).

With all of that nitpicking out of the way, let me say that there was one wise choice made here: Marv Wolfman is writing the updated origin of Dick Grayson. Wolfman had been writing Dick in the Titans books since 1980, and that decade of experience made him the ideal candidate for exploring this topic.

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How many years does These Batman Year story go up to? Just wondering.

There is one more that we’ll do next week…

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:slightly_smiling_face: Looking forward to it. Last year I did read Robin Year one and Batgirl Year one. I really enjoy the art look and the story to it. After reading the post, wish DC has year 3 in their Library!

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Continuity note/gripe: Wolfman seems to think that Alfred began working with Bruce as an adult. He repeats the mistake in “A Lonely Place of Dying.” The weird thing is that he references one story from Batman Annual #13 in “Lonely Place” (the one written by Christopher Priest, which itself makes the mistake of showing a version of Two-Face’s first meeting with Jason Todd that’s wildly incompatible with post-Crisis continuity), but Wolfman clearly missed the second story in the annual, which affirmed that Alfred had been Thomas Wayne’s butler.

Granted, Alfred’s role in Bruce’s childhood became more important after the 1989 film came out. Miller and Barr had established that Alfred was there from the start (contrary to pre-Crisis continuity), but in the original post-Crisis timeline, Bruce’s legal guardian in his orphaned childhood years was Leslie Thompkins. Alfred helped to raise him, obviously, but he wasn’t really a father figure to Bruce. The film left Leslie out altogether and suggested a more paternal side to the Alfred/Bruce relationship, and the comics quickly followed suit.

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On one hand, I like this story, probably even better than the preceding two. But on the other, calling it Year Three is highly misleading. It has very little to do with Batman’s early career or Dick’s origin, and is mostly a bridge between A Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying. For example, to answer Question 4, I thought the moment I was looking for was in Part 3, and I saw that that issue has less than a page of flashbacks. I’d rather give the story a different title than focus more on the flashbacks, though.

Just in general, Marv Wolfman’s Batman run is really underrated. I think Marv Wolfman is hit-or-miss with a lot more misses than people acknowledge (New Teen Titans/New Titans has a few genuinely good storylines but much of it is not nearly so good and his Adventures of Superman run is pretty meh), but somehow when he’s doing Batman stuff, it always comes out really well.

I actually still need to reread, but as I recall, it doesn’t take too many liberties with the original story, just fleshes things out a little. I’m OK with it but it’s nothing really special.

If I’m being brutally honest, I think this is one of those things like “Batman creates his own villains” that’s meta-commentary crammed into the story where it doesn’t make much sense. It’s nice as an audience member for Batman to have a less experienced sort of “apprentice” who can provide a foil to him and simulate the reader’s perspective (one of the reasons Tim is the best Robin, but that’s another story). But it doesn’t make a ton of sense in-story that the fact that Robin is a thing that exists somehow keeps Batman from… punching criminals even more aggressively? I can’t even verbalize what the difference is supposed to be without falling back on meta terms about the tone and style of the story itself.

I like this page:

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I love this story.

Classic, iconic and an important part of the Batman story in the Post-Crisis world. A seamless retelling, expansion and updating of one of comics’ classic characters done extremely well. And it fit perfectly in with continuity of the time so it never needed to be considered a semi-out-of-continuity event like Year 1 and Year 2 were.

But even if you didn’t know anything about continuity, which I didn’t when I first read it as a kid when it first came out, it presents a perfect and classic take on the Dick Grayson Robin origin in an exciting, dramatic story that actually introduced many post-Crisis readers to Dick’s Robin career, since his entire tenure was actually pre-Crisis.

So well done that it served as the basis for the perfect Batman: The Animated Series Robin origin episodes covering the same events. And; as mentioned, serves as the perfect set up for the introduction of Tim Drake’s Robin in A Lonely Place of Dying—which in turn inspired events in The Dark Knight Rises film.

George Perez’s covers are gorgeous and dynamic, some of his best, and Pat Broderick’s interiors are fantastic. Two of the best visual story tellers of the time.

It’s an understated modern classic.

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Great post, but I’m curious about this. I’ve seen elements of Knightfall (obviously), No Man’s Land and Dark Knight Returns in Rises, but not Lonely Place of Dying.

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  • Unlike the previous two stories, Year Three has a current story with flashbacks to the early days when Batman first met Dick Grayson. Do you like this mix of storytelling, or do you wish there was more focus on the past like in One and Two?

I liked it personally. I don’t mind that form of storytelling and think it was done well, where each flashback was relevant to the story being told. I can understand how people may not consider this a real Year 3 story because of this, myself being one of them. I agree with @AlexanderKnox earlier statement about the title being a “cash-in”. I’m ok with this also though because I like this story quite a bit. I also don’t mind the back and forth with the time line most likely because I read this after having seen the BTAS, Robin Year One and well every other story that dove into Robins past. So to me it felt more like a history lesson recap while finally getting a conclusion to the Zucco part of Dicks story.

  • This story is as much the story of Dick Grayson, both his origin as Robin and who he is at the time of publishing as Nightwing. What do you think of these issues as an origin story for him, and how would you compare it to similar stories before or since?
    I like this iteration and honestly am having trouble thinking of a different one or if I have read one that is vastly different.

  • In this story, we see how different Batman is than he was in the past due to the death of Jason Todd, acting wildly and erratically. Do you think this is a good example of the idea that “Batman needs a Robin” to keep himself from going too far?

I think so. I remember as a kid that I didn’t get the whole kid sidekick thing. I know it was an attempt to make him more kid friendly and for kids to have someone to relate to but as a kid I didn’t buy it. In this story and any other where Batman is on the verge of crossing that line I feel having a child as his tether has always worked nicely. The whole time reading this I could not help but thing of the Lonely Place story and was like Tim! Batman needs you!

  • What was your favorite moment within this story? I am going to have to get back with you on this one. There are a few but I need a lil time to look back at the panels and pick which ones.

Sorry for being absent last week, was crazy busy, still am. :dizzy_face:

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Robin figures out Bruce’s identity based on a childhood experience.

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I don’t mind this form of storytelling, however I don’t think it was done perfectly here. In would have liked to have read just a straight Year 3 tale, but that’s would have had to be a completely different tale. And Robin Year One kind of takes care of that.

I’m 100% okay with this origin. Is it different elsewhere?

No, I think this is an example that Batman has a very fragile psyche. And we’d all be pretty effed up, too, if our wards died. (Y’all have wards, too, right?). If anything, the effect of Jason’s death, and just the death itself, is evidence that there shouldn’t be a Robin.

The shock ending of the third issue, when Zucco bites it and Nightwing flips out.

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  • Unlike the previous two stories, Year Three has a current story with flashbacks to the early days when Batman first met Dick Grayson. Do you like this mix of storytelling, or do you wish there was more focus on the past like in One and Two?

I think it definitely can work, we’ve seen it work in stories like Mask of the Phantasm and such. I can understand adding a modern element to progress the story along being especially good for fans who probably already know the score. I don’t know how well it worked here because I honestly found the modern day plot rather weak. Like, not bad, just not as good.

  • This story is as much the story of Dick Grayson, both his origin as Robin and who he is at the time of publishing as Nightwing. What do you think of these issues as an origin story for him, and how would you compare it to similar stories before or since?

In terms of other Robin origins, I would definitely sooner read Dark Victory or something like that over this.

  • In this story, we see how different Batman is than he was in the past due to the death of Jason Todd, acting wildly and erratically. Do you think this is a good example of the idea that “Batman needs a Robin” to keep himself from going too far?

At the very least he sometimes does need somebody out there, and I think this story is a good example of that, where we see him not exactly crossing the line, but blurring it a lot more if he didn’t have someone he trusts who is willing to question his actions when necessary.

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I should remark that a plot point in this story–namely, Batman teaming up with the mob to stop someone who is trying to kill them–feels directly borrowed from Year Two. Then again, I don’t know what would ever make me think of Year Two while reading Year Three


Even Alfred wants in on that gritty gun-toting action.

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