‘Zero Year’ continues to be an enjoyable, but still entirely unnecessary story. Now, I’m not saying every story has to be ‘necessary’, because that would be dumb, but we’ve all seen Batman’s origin a billion fucking times, and we don’t need to see it again, even with all of the extra stuff Scott Snyder is adding. That’s most apparent in this issue when we see Snyder and Capullo’s take on the iconic ‘Yes father, I shall become a bat’ scene. They use that dialogue, and the scene is well told, but it’s just like… I saw Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli do this already! This is just an expanded, overcomplicated version of that!
This is by no means a bad comic, it’s actually really good, much better than most of DC’s output, but it’s just frustrating that that excellent team of Snyder and Capullo are doing this, rather than something interesting set in the present-day of Batman. The character just went through 3 very traumatic upheavals, the revelation that he has a brother, the ‘death of the family’ and then Damian actually dying. I want to see Snyder write that, not this.
But that’s just sour grapes, I should try and review this comic not some imagined one in my head. As I said, this comic is still good, and the opening sequence really shows that. The way the writer and the artist work together there, and show the different time periods works really well, really getting across both the themes of the story, but also the disorientation in Bruce Wayne’s head after the Red Hood gang’s bomb. I also really liked the speech from the main Red Hood, he’s a really effective villain, especially because we’re still not sure whether he’s The Joker or not. I’m actually thinking that he’s not The Joker, and that one of his random Hood henchman is actually the future Clown Prince of Crime, that would be a great twist.
Unfortunately, that same ambiguity of character isn’t there when it comes to Edward Nygma. The scene between him and Philip Kane was pretty good, especially as it gave Kane some depth, he’s not a bad guy. But the way it ended was a bit cheesy, the whole ‘you’re just a big question mark’ nonsense. It was Geoff Johns-type (hey, Central City is fast! Coast City has no fear!) stuff, and I thought Snyder was better than that. The scene afterwards with Bruce and Alfred patching up their differences (and Alfred literally patching Bruce’s body back up) made up for it though. Less obvious symbolism, more great character work.
So yeah, this was another good issue of Batman, but I still keep coming back to the question (oh no, I am The Riddler!) of ‘do we need this?’. I know nobody needs any comic, but you know what I mean. Capullo’s artwork was of course excellent, I mentioned earlier how he and Snyder gave been working together for long enough now that they really are becoming a team. I also still like the different colour palette that Plascencia is using, this is a Batman comic that’s brighter than most, but it works. The back-up was once again interesting, and it managed to make Bruce’s ‘no-kill’ rule make sort of sense, plus, lovely Rafael Albuquerque art!