Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Greg Capullo
Colourist: Fco Plascencia
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Previously, in Batman: Bruce Wayne, son of billionaire philanthropists Thomas and Martha Wayne, was taken to see the Mask of Zorro at a theatre in the seedy part of Gotham City. Taking a shortcut through the area that would eventually become known as Crime Alley, Bruce’s parents were brutally shot down by a criminal attempting to steal their valuables. Bruce, however, survived.
Bruce left Gotham City, to train and discover a way in which to inspire fear in his enemies, so that he could defend Gotham as its protector. Now it is time for him to return, to begin his crusade against the criminal underworld that infects Gotham like a cancer. But to stand the best chance of success, Bruce is going to need a little technological help.
With at least five titles starring Batman as their main character, having five zero issues for the Caped Crusader seems a bit like overkill to me. Each one is apparently going to take a different area of Bruce Wayne’s life before he became Batman and show some new undiscovered aspect of the character that readers didn’t know before. Given how long he has been around, it’s a surprise that one, let alone five, different avenues of narration to take, but as usual, the comic book writers are full of surprises, and we get something that we’ve definitely not seen before.
The main story here deals with Bruce Wayne’s development of some early Batman tech, whilst practising his crime fighting before donning the cape and cowl. This leads to him making some mistakes, which is interesting to see since Batman is usually portrayed as this largely infallible character that has a plan for everything. Not only does showing Bruce’s weakness help emphasize that he is just as human as the rest of us, but also highlights how far he has come in his crime-fighting career in just a few short years. It’s an effective comparison, and well used here. I can only hope that the same can be said across the other books.
We also get a glimpse of Commissioner Gordon, now only Lieutenant Gordon, and the beginnings of his own war against crime that soon will make him one of Batman’s best allies. Plus, there’s a look at the Red Hood Gang, which is almost definitely a nod to the Joker and his upcoming storyline in the next year of Batman books which serves as the opening and closing scenes of the lead story. Overall it’s very well put together and feels like the beginning of a flashback arc; the problem comes with the ending—the story is cut short extremely abruptly, with no closure or even true hints at what’s coming next, and it feels like the issue is missing something important, so that the issue ends on a bum note rather than a good one.
However, this is easily rectified by the back-up story by James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke, which is absolutely phenomenal. In the short space of 8 pages, Tynion manages to establish not just one, but four of Batman’s supporting characters, and ties them into his legacy without ever meeting him. Their individual personalities are easily created with only a few panels, and each character feels unique and reminiscent of exactly what we are used to, with some new twists and turns to show how everything fits into the truncated timeline that the New 52 fits around. This back-up story is well worth the price of admission on its own.
Batman #0 has a decent lead story that could have benefited from a few extra pages, and a back-up that would stand well on its own. Together, they make another excellent entry into the Batman series that Snyder and Tynion IV have been working on, and provide a good look back on the origins of Batman without a single mention of the character, as well as some cryptic looks forward too.
GO Rating: 3.5/5