I'll never understand why I put off reading Batman Year One for so long. Maybe I wasn't ready for Frank Miller's version of the story. Which bothers me, because I accepted The Dark Knight Returns with open arms.
Many things come to mind while reading Year One, though. First of all, its importance to the Batman mythos, a signature in the canon, and so forth. I've said this before with another book, haven't I? It's still very true, however.
Told from the point of view of both Batman/Bruce Wayne and Lieutenant Gordon, the story follows both narrators through their first year in Gotham City. Influenced much by the film noir concept of storytelling - isn't Frank Miller responsible for the film noir graphic novel, Sin City? - the book engulfs the reader, leading them down the path of chaos, destruction and finally redemption.
David Mazzucchelli's artwork combines the gritty comic look that pays homage to Miller's film noir style of writing. There isn't another team who could have pulled the story off any other way - of course, unless you consider the original origin story.
I wonder why Year One wasn't considered as a Batman film adaptation, though you can see its influence on such films as Batman Begins. There's a Joker in the story, but there are a lot of mob bosses, crooked cops, petty criminals and corrupted city officials - did I fail to mention Catwoman?