Zero Year continues to be a perfectly decent story, but at this point, I’m more interested in FCO Plascencia’s interesting colouring choices than I am in what Snyder is writing. All of the various little changes and adjustments he’s making to the Batman mythos are all well and good, but I am finding it hard to really care. We really didn’t need this story at all, and whilst it is of course good, I will be glad when it’s over.
The issue begins with Bruce Wayne having some enigmatic flashbacks, we see him watching The Mark Of Zorro alone, before being ‘arrested’ by a young Jim Gordon. We then see someone or something being attacked by rabid dogs, and a weird dude with face-paint talking about the truth. I don’t know what those were all about, but it will all be explained in time. Bruce wakes up to a scene of Doctor Death trying to kill Lucius Fox. It turns out that Fox wasn’t really working for Death (duh) and that what he injected Bruce with was an antidote for the Doctor’s bone-mangling serum. Doctor Death does some typical supervillain rambling, including some more interesting bits about secrets to do with Bruce Wayne’s past, and even manages to grab a hold of Bruce’s head, and to start crushing it. Luckily, that man Jim Gordon is on hand again to shoot Death and save Bruce, who wakes up in Hospital severely wounded.
Before he wakes up though, the mysterious face-paint man returns in another flashback, where Bruce is unlocked from some weird, isolation prison, and handed a walky-talky to talk to his father. Yes, his father, who is dead. What the hell is that all about? When Bruce does awake, he is confronted by Gordon, who wants to work together to stop Doctor Death, but Bruce refuses. This is because he believes Gordon to be just another corrupt cop like all the others. He expands on what happened after Gordon took him away from the movie theatre, and how a young Bruce saw Gordon and his partner accept bribes, including the trenchcoat that Gordon always wears. I think these changes to Gordon’s back story are very interesting indeed. In previous origins, like say, Year One, Gordon was an outsider who came to Gotham from (I think) Chicago, and was the one, lone, incorruptible Police Officer. Here, he came up in Gotham, and has a much darker past it seems. I think this gives Gordon more depth, but I suppose many fans might not like it. It’s also a fun twist on the Nolan movies, where Gordon’s coat has a very different kind of importance for Bruce Wayne. Also interesting is that these events happened on the day Bruce’s parents were killed. Bruce snuck out of school to go see Zorro, was taken back home by Gordon, and then I guess his parents didn’t want to punish him and took him to see a later showing instead, where of course, they got shot. This just adds another layer of guilt about his parent’s death for Bruce.
Wayne storms out of the hospital, and heads back out to hunt for Death, but he’s on a race against time, as not only could the Riddler strike with another blackout at any moment, the superstorm is coming too. Batman makes his way to the labs of some more former associates of Doctor Death, and finds them already bone-mangled. But he also finds something worse, some GCPD, who open fire on him, just a barrage of bullets. Obviously, since this is an origin story, Batman ain’t gonna die, but it’ll be interesting to see how he makes it out of this one, and how the various threats of Doctor Death and Riddler are solved.
Greg Capullo’s art was fantastic as usual, and as I mentioned earlier, FCO Plascencia is really kicking ass on the colouring here, it’s a lot brighter than you might expect from Batman, but it really works. So yes, whilst this title is still readable, and Scott Snyder is making interesting changes, particularly to Commissioner Gordon, I’m still finding it hard to care about yet another origin retelling.