Review: Batman #0 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Batman #0: Bright New Yesterday

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Release Date: 09/12/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

Zero books are a curious thing. They are supposed to be a jumping on point, or a book that gives additional details about things that happened before the #1. However, in this case, the DCnU Batman title is only 1 year old, and the first issue didn’t really show the origin of the character. (Partially because there was no need, but also because the Batman universe was left most untouched)

Synopsis – Main Story

  • The Red Hood Gang decides to rob the Gotham National Bank, but Bruce Wayne has infiltrated the gang in disguise.
  • The leader of the gang realizes that Bruce is fake and tries to kill him, but Bruce escapes because the police are outside of the bank.
  • Bruce retreats to his downtown hideout where Alfred is waiting for him who urges him to increase the visibility of his persona, Bruce Wayne.
  • Lieutenant Gordon pays a visit to Bruce Wayne warning him of potential nefarious activities of Wayne Enterprises CEO, Philip Kane, and subtly warns him to stop being a vigilante.
  • The end of the story shows the Red Hood Gang preparing to attack the residence of Bruce Wayne.

Backup Story: Tomorrow

Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Andy Clarke

  • Lieutenant Gordon and his daughter Barbara are setting up something on top of police headquarters
  • Tim Drake is attending Graystone Academy and exposes a corrupt headmaster to the police
  • Jason Todd helps rob a convenience store, but Jason attacks his partner who killed the clerk turning him over to the police.
  • Dick Grayson stops a mugger while a member of the Flying Graysons, excited about playing for Bruce Wayne.
  • All of them (Barbara, Tim, Jason, and Dick) all take notice of the Bat Signal and are inspired.

Questions and Answers

Q:    Is the leader of the Red Hood Gang, the man who will become the Joker?

A:     Tim Drake is in middle school at the time of the story (i.e., 5 years ago)

A:     Jim Gordon suspects Bruce Wayne of vigilante activities before Batman’s appearance.

Q:    Is Philip Kane connected to Kate Kane (Batwoman)

Analysis

The first story is good, but somewhat pointless. I’m sure it ties into the upcoming Joker storyline from Scott Snyder in some way, though the teaser says that the next part will not be revealed until 2013. It is yet another story of Bruce Wayne realizing that being a vigilante without a symbol is useless, and that being so close to the spot of his parents’ murders makes him an obvious suspect for vigilante activities.

The problem is that it seems too much like a story that has already been published. Whether it is Batman Year One or Batman Begins, this feels like a train that is going down a very familiar track. Even the opening scene with the Red Hood Gang seems eerily reminiscent of The Dark Knight movie. Maybe that just makes me a well-read/well-versed Batman fan, but it makes the story less interesting.

However, I must say that overall it is well executed. And the take is slightly different, Bruce Wayne infiltrating the Red Hood Gang to better study the criminal gangs in Gotham City. I probably would have liked the story better if it was able to come to its conclusion, rather than a cliff-hanger that is to be resolved some time in 2013.

The best moment of the story is Bruce talking to Alfred, where Alfred is strongly suggesting that Bruce return to Wayne Manor and resume part of his life as Bruce Wayne. Bruce’s response is to be close to the location of his parents murders and that Bruce Wayne is a mask.

Why do I like this scene so much? Because here we can see the tide turning. In Snyder’s Batman, Bruce Wayne and Batman co-exist together. Bruce Wayne is no longer the mask of Batman, but they are two heads of the same character trying to achieve a goal. And it will take the rejection of this opinion of Bruce Wayne and a rejection of being close to Crime Alley to achieve this. Because he must reject these things to return to the mansion, where he must encounter the bat and become Batman.

However, even better than any moment in the main Batman story is the backup story. An excellent example of how people in Gotham City are affected by the symbol of the Bat. In this story, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson, and Jason Todd are all making choices that will affect their future. And then we can read this knowing that Batman will later enter their eyes and affect them all in even more profound ways.

It is an excellent little story, and really adds some content and context to the Batman mythos in both the current DCnU and the overall Batman mythos that stretches back to the Silver Age. Yes, I think that Tim, Jason, and Dick are all to close in age for my tastes, but overall the story really worked for me and made me like Batman # much better.

Verdict

If you are already a Batman fan, you’ll enjoy this well enough. But if you’re on the fence, then I’d say skip this month, save the four dollars and come back next month for issue #13.

Overall Grade: B- (good, but fairly forgettable)

 

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