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Batman: Year Two is a comic story arc written by Mike W. Barr, and illistrated by Alan Davis and Todd McFarlane. The story focuses on Batman as he is confronted with the dangerous vigilante Reaper, the severety of his foes forcing him to confront his codes and vows. The story was published in Detective Comics from #575 to #575 and is noted for influencing the 1993 animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

Synopsis[]

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Issues[]

     
#575: "Fear the Reaper"
#575: "Fear the Reaper"
     
#576: "Deal with the Devil"
#576: "Deal with the Devil"
     
#577: "Deadly Allies"
#577: "Deadly Allies"
     
#578: "...So Shall Ye Reap..
#578: "...So Shall Ye Reap..."

Development[]

Initially, Year Two was titled "Batman: 1980" and was originally planned to be separate from Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. However, the story was soon retitled to tie-in to the storyline as a sequel. Aside from it focusing on a younger Batman who struggles against new challenges and criminals still being influencal in Gotham, the story does not continue themes or plotlines from the prior series. It also does not feature characters introduced in Year One, such as Carmine Falcone or the new police commissioner Grogan, and Gordon is promoted to Commissioner prior to its events.

The story was most notable for reinventing the Reaper, a character who had previously appeared in Batman #237. Whilst the comic retained the character's vengeance motivation and their connection to the Grim Reaper, Year Two reimagined the character as a more violent and murderous vigilante who targeted Gotham's criminals. Reaper's costume was also changed to feature a red leather bodysuit with wrist-mounted scythes. It also changed the identity from Benjamin Gruener to Judson Caspian, who quickly became more prominently associated with the identity.

Canonicity[]

Batman: Year Two was initially intended as a follow-up to Year One and was, for a time, considered canon in New Earth. Its storylines were continued in the one-shot Batman: Full Circle, which saw Joe Chill Jr. don the Reaper identity in a scheme targeting Batman for his involvement in his father's death. Year Two was notable for establishing that the Reaper was Gotham's original costumed vigilante, though this appeared to contradict other storylines in other DC publications (which claimed either that Batman or another character, often Alan Scott's Green Lantern, came first).

Year Two was later retconned out of continuity during 1994's Zero Hour event, which rewrote most of New Earth's history. Most notably, it suggested in Batman: The Ultimate Evil that Joe Chill had died whilst being arrested by the GCPD, and a post-Infinite Crisis storyline depicted Batman tracking down his parents murderer and driving him to suicide. Year Two's events were soon replaced with Batman: The Long Halloween, which followed on from Year One more closely and continued storylines directly related to it (such as the Falcone Crime Family and its declining influence in Gotham). The story quickly proved more popular and supplanted Year Two in popular consciousness. Subsequently, the Benjamin Gruener incarnation of Reaper was soon brought back from the dead during the 2009-2010 storyline Batman: Life After Death, which saw return from the dead as part of Black Mask's Ministry of Science and battle Dick Grayson's Batman.

During DC Rebirth, it was indicated that Year Two's events did take place in the Prime Earth during 2019's Detective Comics Annual. The Annual's story saw Batman confronting Judson's son Julian, who followed his father and led his own group called the Reapers. Judson and Rachel also appear in flashbacks, with the story revealing that Reaper's threat did force Batman to break his "no guns" rule until his defeat. However, Joe Chill had previously appeared during Scott Snyder's run on Batman and revealed to be alive during its Endgame storyline. Chill would later feature in the miniseries Batman: Three Jokers, which depicted another version of his death. Due to these stories, it has been indicated that he was not involved during Prime Earth's version of Year Two.

Impact[]

Year Two was one of the first stories which placed Batman's moral code and decision not to kill into the forefront, though this trend that was arguably started the previous year with The Dark Knight comic series. In particular, it showed the character struggling with his decision not to kill and explained why he chose not to use guns. The series also reinvented the Reaper, turning the character into a serial killer targeting former Nazis to a street-level vigilante who took more brutal approaches to fighting crime.

Year Two was one of the major influences on the 1993 film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a story which sees Batman investigating a murderous vigilante called the Phantasm. Like Year Two, the character targets mob bosses, uses a Grim Reaper aesthetic and wrist-attached scythes, has a motivation stemming from the murder of a loved one, and their identity being connection to a fiancé of Bruce Wayne and her father. However, the Phantasm notably changed the identity to the love-interest (Andrea Beaumont), with her father serving as a red herring. Although the Phantasm was originally limited to the DC Animated Universe, the character would later be adapted into DC's Prime Earth in the 2020 comic series Batman/Catwoman.

Links[]

DC Database page

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