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Batman #21 Review

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Rain Partier

Postby LOLtron » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:11 pm

Batman #21 Review

The first chapter of Year Zero is here! How is the retelling of Batman's origin?


Comic fans hold Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One as the definitive Batman origin and has enjoyed tremendous success and admiration since its’ original publication. Since being published, dozens of writers, artists, directors and video game designers have incorporated imagery, language, and themes of Year One into their own work with the Dark Knight. When the new 52 was announced most fans readily assumed that Miller’s masterpiece would still be the reputable source of Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman. However, with a new universe comes a new origin. 


I will admit that I was hesitant to pick up Year Zero because of my own love of Miller’s Year One. I’ve never understood why people say that Batman’s origin needs to be updated. Miller’s Gotham in Year One is a perfect representation of the sleazy and corrupt evil that plagued Gotham.  However, over the past two years Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have proved themselves to be more than capable creators and seem to be up for the task of recreating Batman’s origin. Scott Snyder knows that it would be insane to try to recreate the magic of  Year One, so instead he goes in a completely different direction that works to his advantage.


Inside of Batman #21 the reader get to see three versions of Bruce Wayne. At the beginning we get to Bruce in a proto-Batman suit in a prologue sequence that shows a ruined Gotham. In the opening pages, it is obvious that Snyder and Capullo are aiming high with the total No Man’s Land-type destruction they have planned for Gotham in the upcoming year. Knowing that all hell is about to break loose in Gotham, it is hard not to get drawn into the first chapter Year Zero.


Next we see the Bruce as we saw him in last year’s Batman #0. This is Bruce before he gets into the cape and cowl and still trying to figure out the persona of what his avatar of vengeance should be. It is interesting seeing a young angry Bruce who argues with Alfred and flips the finger to the Red Hood as he escapes after derailing his plans. While retelling the story of how Bruce became Batman, Snyder is slyly telling the origin of the Red Hood aka The Joker. I’m interested in seeing how the dynamic of Bruce and the Red Hood plays out over the course of the next year before Bruce puts own the cowl. 


Lastly we see Bruce before his parents die exploring Gotham on his own. This is personally by favorite section of the book. The best part of Snyder’s writing is that he makes Gotham come alive. Instead of letting Gotham being a substitute for Chicago or Baltimore, Snyder creates a history and sense of place within Gotham. Due to Greg Capullo’s pencils, the reader can be just as amazed as the young Bruce Wayne is as he spends his day wondering around the massive city. Seriously, you’ve never seen a page of mundane actives (riding a bus, buying fruit, etc.) look so good. Hopefully we get to see more of young Bruce interacting with his parents in this storyline before their inevitable demise. 


While providing the reader a sense of who Bruce was, is, and will be, Snyder provides several easter eggs throughout the issue. We get to see the origin of the Robin symbol, the origin of the penny in the Bat cave, and the introduction of a fan favorite Batman villain who has been missing from the Bat books for too long. Hopefully we get to see all of these elements expanded upon during the next year. 


In the back-up story, we get to see how Bruce Wayne learned how to drive like a manic without managing to kill anyone. It’s a really cool story  and I don’t think I ever seen a story quiet like it before. Hopefully, the next ten issues will contain “lessons” from his past that Bruce will incorporate into his life as the Caped Crusader.


I came into the first issue of Year Zero hesitant of seeing another origin of Batman. I finished the issue totally floored by how good it was. I can not wait till next month for the second chapter. I really can’t remember the last time I was this impressed with a retelling of an origin story. Batman #21 shows why Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are the best creators at DC and why Batman is one of the best books continuing to be published today. By the time Year Zero concludes, I would not be suprised if people love it more than Year One. Seriously, it shows that much promise.

Written or Contributed by Steven Harris

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Postby Porcelain38 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:26 pm

This is the first new52 appearance of the Riddler...a villian who I've been dying to see Snyder write.
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Outhouse Editor

Postby Zechs » Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:23 pm

Porcelain38 wrote:This is the first new52 appearance of the Riddler...a villian who I've been dying to see Snyder write.

Actually Eddie showed up earlier in DoTF during the short stories.
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Postby Porcelain38 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:39 pm

Totally forgot about him being there! Goes's to show how much he impacted that story....
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Rain Partier

Postby HNutz » Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:47 pm

It was... okay.

I liked how they introduced Nygma and seeing Batman still learning while fighting the Red Hood gang. Of course, I was somewhat expecting to see Nygma as the leader of the gang. Maybe... but I'm not 100% sold on the Batman Begins-ish "legally dead", Bruce Wayne's uncle, the time jumps...

And what was up withthe kid in the beginning and Batman's short-sleeved new look (I guess they need more fodder for action figures. Between this and Day Glo Batman with Weed Killer action feature from Layman's series...)? It Just felt odd to me. I'm assuming it'll be explained down the road, but still...
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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:19 am

Not content with relaunching Superman this week, Scott Snyder kicks off his latest Batman epic with the first issue of ‘Zero Year’. Picking up where Batman #0 left off, we are seeing what Bruce Wayne got up to when he first returned to Gotham and how he became Batman. Yes, this is all stuff that we’ve seen 100 times before and probably don’t need to see again, but thankfully, Snyder provides enough new wrinkles to the story to make this worthwhile.

I think the most surprising aspect of this story is that it reveals that Bruce Wayne actually had some relatives left alive when his parents were shot. Philip Kane is his Uncle (Martha Wayne’s brother and presumably some relation to Kate Kane AKA Batwoman) and whilst Snyder says they were never close, it is a bit odd that Bruce was left to wander the world alone as a kid, when he had an Uncle who should have been looking after him. But as we learn, Philip is kind of a bad dude, he’s working with Edward Nygma, the man who will become The Riddler, so yeah, perhaps it’s for the best that he didn’t do an ‘Uncle Ben Parker’ and step in. We also find out more about the Red Hood Gang that we saw in Batman #0, and about their charismatic leader who is probably The Joker.

So there’s lots of interesting things to go on here, Snyder is not just covering ground that Frank Miller already did 30 years ago. There is a problem with this issue though, and it’s the time-jumps and flashbacks. We start off 6 years ago, where Bruce is Batman and Gotham City seems to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland with overgrown weeds. The we flashback again to 5 months before that, and then within that, there are flashbacks to Bruce Wayne’s childhood! It’s a bit ridiculous and needlessly complex. The artwork from Greg Capullo is as solid as always, he is fast becoming a definitive Batman artist for me, and this issue looked great. I also liked the big ‘censored’ bar that was across the panel when Bruce Wayne gave The Red Hood the finger, it wasn’t quite as good as Hawkeye’s censorship, but it was close.

So yeah, we don’t really need this story, but this issue was good, and it looks like Snyder is going to do something different here, and show us a history of not just Batman, but everything around him. We even find out the origin of the Giant Penny for God’s sake! For some, this might be anally-retentive pointless continuity. I don’t know yet, we shall see.
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fieldy snuts

Rain Partier

Postby fieldy snuts » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:43 pm

This was a shit book. It's only redeeming part was the Riddler intro.
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Johnny Smith

WTF is this rank?

Postby Johnny Smith » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:44 am

What I find interesting is the angle Snyder's taking in this story - it's the presence of costumed villains in Gotham that results in the emergence of the Batman. This is different than the traditional angle - Gotham is a corrupt city overrun by mobs and Batman's emergence leads to the creation of a new class of evil freaks.

Capullo did a wonderful job on art this issue. The Riddler's office is fantastic - the string connecting all of Nygma's bizarre notes is a wonderful touch.
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James Hendry


Postby James Hendry » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:26 pm

Seems like all the DC books are really superfluous.
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Postby oogy » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:36 pm

I enjoyed this issue very much and look forward to the following issues.

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