Writer Scott Snyder is on record about his initial fear at taking on Batman’s “Zero Year” story line, but he should feel very confident in where this will stand in the Batman mythos. He and artist Greg Capullo continue to build on what we mostly already know, but add touches and tweaks that make this one entertaining and exciting ride. This story will stand the test of time and will serve as the new measuring stick for the future of Batman stories.
Batman’s battle with the Red Hood gang is over but things are just starting to pick up after the Riddler has blacked-out all of Gotham. With the threat of a massive storm approaching, there is so much to contend with that it will make your head spin. The opening pages are interesting, but a mystery and the main focus of this issue, which kicks off with Batman running from Gotham police. Here, Capullo has thrown his take on the first Batmobile, and it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen or would have imagined. It’s a perfect fit, in both function and style, for Bruce in the midst of his personal discovery as Batman.
There is a new villain on the scene, and again Snyder and Capullo break the mold of what we might expect plus we get another first appearance, simple yet stately, of a well-known character from Batman’s world. This issue, to me, focuses on not the physical strength and gadgets of Batman but his intellect. Snyder shows us the detective, in action, as he works through the Riddler’s blackout and the identity of the new villain with CSI like skill and precision. This is followed by some great gamesmanship between Gordon and Bruce outside Wayne Manor, which again showcases Batman’s mental strength and toughness.
Snyder throws in a twist by the end - that even as a longtime Batman reader - still came as quite a surprise and will keep you guessing. Capullo simply chews some scenery here, especially with this new villain and how he carries out his crimes. It’s grotesque yet somehow weirdly artistic and right in Capullo’s wheelhouse. There is also a fitting back-up story by Snyder, James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke focusing on Harper Row that shows the origin of her strength with an awesome spread that acknowledges all the Zero Year tie-ins.
"Batman: Zero Year" continues to hit on all cylinders and Snyder’s writing and Capullo’s art are off the chart. It’s always a bit daunting to tackle a new take on a well-worn hero’s beginnings, but this is something special and more than I think most fans were expecting. It’s fresh, yet familiar. Epic, yet personal. Snyder and Capullo are pulling off no easy feat here and fans should only be excited with anticipation as for what’s to come!