With Batman getting retconned with the first issue in the New 52, is there a need to see what happened before The Court of Owls storyline? Major Spoilers peeks inside to find out.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterers: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Batman: A dark alley. A wealthy couple on the way home from the movies with their son. A gunman. A shot!
SIX YEARS AGO
Before Batman took on the Court of Owls, he was a young man back in Gotham after being absent for four years. Presumably Wayne was traveling the world, learning to be a good fighter and detective, as this issue kicks off with Bruce Wayne in disguise and in deep cover with the Red Hood Gang. The only problem is, this is one of Bruce’s early outings as a crime fighter, and though he may have all the gadgets and gizmos money can buy, he’s still green when it comes to beating bad guys and being awesome. In short, Bruce gets his butt handed to him during a bank robbery gone awry, and becomes Enemy #1 for the Red Hood Gang.
Scott Snyder does in this first issue what Frank Miller did in the first chapter of Year One; setting the stage for Batman to emerge from the shadows to rule the night. I’ve always liked stories examining that time period before the bat crashed through the manor window, and Mr. Snyder delivers a portion of that in this issue. After reading the Court of Owls, it may take some readers a moment or two to get it in their minds that in this issue, none of those events have happened yet, so the Red Hood Gang really is the biggest threat Bruce Wayne has ever encountered. What will be really interesting is to see how Mr. Snyder continues this story line in 2013 while we read The Death of the Family arc that kicks off in issue #13.
In addition to Bruce Wayne finding himself, or at least setting up the device that Wayne is the mask for something bigger, there are a number of twists that make this book an engaging read. Instead of headquartering in Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred have set up shop in the middle of Crime Alley. His vigilante ways have not only attracted the attention of the Red Hood Gang, he also has to contend with a nosey Lt. Gordon, all red-haired and cigar smoking, who thinks Wayne may know a thing or two about what is going on.
The backup story included in this issue is a nice bookend to everything that has been going on in the world of the Batman, as readers get a glimpse of what was going on in the lives of the various Robins moments before the bat signal went live for the first time. Normally I don’t pay attention to the backup stories, but James Tynion IV did a great job of encapsulating what drives each of the sidekicks – and Tim Drake, too.
DETAILS AND BLANKS
I have enjoyed Greg Capullo’s art since the New 52 kicked off, but I find I have a few problems with the final product. Mr. Capullo does a great job of capturing action, the human form, and all the details in the clothing characters wear throughout the book. However, when it comes to backgrounds, at times the art is hit or miss. There are several pages that are filled with detail that lead the reader though the page. The first splash, featuring the Red Hood Gang, is one I would love to have hanging on the wall, as one can look past the gun barrel pointed at your face all the way to the Brownstone buildings across the street from the bank the gang is robbing. Likewise, the scene of Bruce Wayne’s base of operations is that spread one expects to see the first time a visit is paid to the lair. But, when panels are filled with empty space, or a color splash is used to focus attention on the foreground, I feel somewhat cheated out of some great art. I know it isn’t always possible to fill the panel with a ton of detail, but when I really like an artist’s work, I get a little sad when I see empty space.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT!
For an issue of Batman that doesn’t feature Batman, this was a great buy. As previously mentioned, I like seeing Bruce Wayne, Crime Fighter, during a time when he makes mistakes, and realizes he’s not as effective as he could be. The Red Hood Gang set up is nicely, and the creators have done their job – I want to see what happens next. Mr. Snyder and Mr. Capullo have created a zero issue worthy of the gimmick, and earns 4.5 out of 5 Stars.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!