Batman’s Zero Year Ends
by: J.D. Cook
After an entire year of issues Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s epic Batman origin story Zero Year has come to a close. Snyder is one of the premiere comic book writers who manages to create engaging single issues as well as completely engrossing overarching plots. I didn’t think Capullo could outdo his work on the Court of Owls but I found myself in constant awe of his work on Zero Year. His young Bruce is fantastic and there might not be anything quite as cool as when the young Batman appears sleeveless on a dirt bike in the opening of the story. For those of you who haven’t been reading it, Zero Year effectively does two things. It creates a new origin for the New 52 version of Batman and adds a fresh story to the mythology. (The arc also inspired a previous Comic Book Commentary which you can read by clicking here) Snyder is excellent at taking the existing Batman mythos and squeezing new elements into it’s cracks. The Court of Owls is the perfect example of this because the way in which they came about made the reader feel like they had always been a part of the Batman universe. He does similar things with Zero Year taking what most readers already know and expanding or broadening our horizons. The title itself, Zero Year, is interesting because it not only refers to this being Batman’s Zero Year but also to the fact that Gotham has tried to forget the events of the story as the entire city was flooded, controlled by the Riddler and essentially sent back to the Stone Ages. The best parts of the story involve great character development. The addition of Bruce’s Uncle Philip Kane was fantastic as it gave the audience a foil to Alfred. He was a much different kind of influence whose demise was shockingly emotional. He seemed to be an oddly realistic portrayal of today’s villains. He in no way means to do bad but he trusts unscrupulous characters to help him, in the case of the Riddler, and focuses too much on the wrong aspects of attempting to grow his late father’s legacy. Oh and let’s not forget that he got mixed up with the Red Hood Gang. What a crazy bunch they were! Snyder did a great job leaving whether Red Hood One became the Joker or not a mystery. I was amazed how often Batman failed miserably in his early attempts to save Gotham. He was gunned down by the police, defeated by the terrifyingly creepy new version of Dr. Death and even failed many of the Riddler’s various trials. It really made it mean something when he finally triumphed. My one and only complaint about Zero Year, was that it felt a tad too long. I know it sounds crazy considering more Batman is never really bad but I kept wanting to get to the conclusion with the last few issues just because the story had been building for so long. It definitely delivered in the end though. I am especially interested to see how this story changes Batman and the Riddler’s dynamic moving forward now that we know he is such a fundamental villain in Batman’s rogue’s gallery. I would personally like to see Batman beat him with pure intelligence but I think the climax of Batman and the Riddler’s confrontation showed that the Riddler is so mindlessly devoted to setting up his puzzles that he doesn’t see the obvious, like Batman moving to pummel him. Batman is better than him because he has the brains but he also has the physical and emotional prowess to keep his intelligence from letting him see everyone like ants, as Edward Nygma does. All in all it was a pretty great ride and I can’t wait to see what Snyder and Capullo have up their sleeves next!