You may have never heard of artist and painter Richmond Lewis, but without her one of the most celebrated Batman comics of all time would have looked completely different. Batman: Year One has long been considered a high point for the Caped Crusader, a mature take that would become part of a wave of such stories that would change comics forever. When it comes to the team who put it together, everyone credits writer Frank Miller and the spectacular art of David Mazzucchelli. However, people rarely mention the impact and efforts of Mazzucchelli's wife and Batman: Year One colorist Richmond Lewis, who colored the iconic book not once, but twice.

Cover dated February 1987, the dark and influential storytelling of Batman: Year One actually hit newsstands in the fall of 1986, the same year that Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns made waves in the industry. It was the year that comics would be forever changed with DC blazing a grim and gritty trail that sent ripples across the industry and pop culture as a whole. Running in Batman #404-407, Year One told the story of the early days of the Dark Knight in Gotham through the eyes of his future ally and then beat cop, Jim Gordon. The book's neon-hued cityscapes and pink-dappled puddles made it stand apart from its contemporaries thanks to the sumptuous colors of Richmond Lewis.

Intentionally working within the limited color palette that the four-color printing system at the time required, Lewis brought an inventiveness to the color choices that made Gotham feel alive. The city's nighttime landscape becomes one of gorgeous grime, and with Catwoman at its center as a heroine of the night, Lewis' choices feel intentional and built around Selina more than Jim. While for some colorists the limited palette might have also limited their imagination, Lewis crafted something that feels truly unique and groundbreaking. But that version of Batman: Year One was lost to time—outside of those of us who love to dig through the back issue bins—for many years thanks to an unexpected choice and the often disposable nature of comics.

In 1988, Lewis chose to recolor the entirety of Batman: Year One for the book's first trade paperback collection, something that's incredibly rare for the original colorist to do. It was a chance for Lewis to expand her color choices and craft something far more noir-ish and grounded that cast Gotham in an even more serious light. Gone were the bright neons and in came a spectrum of shadowy hues that would go on to inspire a generation of filmmakers and comics creators, allowing readers to experience the fuller range of texture and tone of Lewis' painted colors.

An interview with Direct Currents—DC's direct-to-comic-shop newsletter—features Lewis’s only interview about her work on Year One, where she explained her reasons for wanting to recolor the book.

"I wanted to bring a sense of drama to the story, from simple color to the more complex,” she revealed in the interview. “But overall, it's pretty restrained. I tried to use a limited palette, so you won't see every color on every page, except in those places where the full range is called for. I tried to use the color to follow the storytelling. There are quiet places in the story that have quiet color, while a loud, fast-paced big bang sequence is going to be colored to bring out the art's impact."

There was also the fact that the 1988 hardcover would be printed full process rather than with the limited palette of newsprint, something she had interesting thoughts on.

"I think newsprint has a lot of possibilities that haven't been explored yet, but of course, with process color you have a lot more to work with,” Lewis acknowledged. “The trick is in trying to control it, to keep to the simplicity of newsprint color while using the fuller range available in process...but only where it's needed.”

Both versions of the work are nothing short of brilliant with Lewis bringing her painter's eye to the Dark Knight in a way that's evocative of what Lynn Varley did for The Dark Knight Returns. But in Lewis' case, we get to explore two different iterations of the work, each of which feels like it tells a tonally stark version of the story that would go on to reshape Batman as we know it.

While Lewis' stint as a colorist was short, she's had a long career as an acclaimed painter and made a huge impact on the world of comics in the brief time she chose to venture into it.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli and Richmond Lewis is available in various graphic novel collected editions and can be read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Rosie Knight is an award-winning journalist and author who loves Swamp Thing, the DC Cosmic and writing the monthly gossip column here at You can also listen to her waxing lyrical about comics, movies and more each week as she co-hosts Crooked Media's pop-culture podcast, X-Ray Vision.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Rosie Knight and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.