I re-read Batman:Year Two recently because someone whose opinion I respect told me that he really liked it. I was pretty sure it was as bad as I remembered, and I was right.
It starts out ok. You have Batman doing his thing and Bruce Wayne falling for a girl named Rachel Caspian. Unfortunately for Bruce, she's going to become a nun. Meanwhile, a Gotham City blast-from-the-past villain/vigilante, the Reaper, is making a comeback. Batman has a very exciting fight with him, I'll admit. It ends with Batman getting his ass handed to him.
I think the book takes its first serious wrong turn at the end of chapter one (click to enlarge):
WHAT?! Ridiculous. Why would Bruce even have that gun? And as if that's the only way to avenge his parents. "Bruce, son. Listen to my dying words. Obtain the gun of this random mugger. ..somehow. Save it in a secret compartment beneath a giant, creepy portrait of your mother and I. Then, one day, you must take this gun and bring down a vigilante much like the one you will become, but more extreme and brutal in his methods. His name will be The Reaper. You must kill him with this mugger's gun, Bruce. Only then will your parents be avenged. Avenge us...Bruce..."
And thus ends chapter one. I guess this was supposed to be a huge, exciting, unexpected cliffhanger when this book was still in serial format. Unexpected? Yes. Exciting? Nope. Just stupid.
So who is this Reaper character? He's pretty bad-ass. And he wants you to forget everything Blue Oyster Cult ever taught you:
He loves to say this. He says it so many times I started laughing out loud each time. It made me think of Spinal Tap when they're like "She should be made to smell the glove."
This one is my favourite:
It's almost adorable. He just wants so badly for Batman to fear the Reaper.
Anyway, back to the absurd plot. It gets much worse. Not only does Batman feel the need to tote the Gun That Took Their Lives, but he also feels that to defeat the Reaper, he needs to team up with some criminals. Which leads to him getting paired up with a criminal. You'll never guess who...
No way! Joe Chill?! The very criminal who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne?! What are the odds?! It's just...stupid. It's totally and completely stupid.
But Batman is still pretty much convinced that this is what he's gotta do. He visits his parents' grave and asks an easy question:
No, Batman. The answer is no. You don't have to do that at all. Don't be ridiculous.
But according to Batman, and the writers, he does. So we endure another few chapters of McFarlane art and overly-angsty inner-monologues.
And Batman wearing a delivery man disguise. Hilarious!
And YOU will soon know to sign here to accept your package, Reaper!
Comm. Gordon gets all confused when he sees Batman sort of fighting on the side of the criminals against the Reaper. He's hurt that Batman isn't being his BFF anymore. He takes it like a 14-year-old girl:
Breaks the pipe that Batman gave him as a gift! Awwww. Suck it up, Gordon.
And then there's the stupid romance plotline. Rachel is dedicated to becoming a nun. Right up until she takes in the full heat of Bruce Wayne eating an ice-cream cone in a bomber jacket.
Ugh. I hate that. She was a woman totally dedicated to her faith and her goal of becoming a nun and helping people. Then she pulls a 180. Whatever.
Also, this is the single creepiest panel I have ever seen. Ever:
EW! When did Bruce Wayne = Guy Smiley? Actually, it's worse than that. It's the exaggerated face that I make when I am considering making a banana split. Check it:
Sorry about my lazy photoshop work. But already I have improved the comic ten fold.
Anyway, I think I've made my case. Now I invite anyone to try to defend this book. Good luck!