The second chapter of “Zero Year” delves into Bruce Wayne’s past with the Red Hood Gang and his run-ins with aspiring District Attorney Harvey Dent! And in the backup story, a secret moment from Bruce’s training abroad is revealed for the first time!
We continue to learn why Bruce Wayne decided to become Batman and use the tools he does.
The scripts and art are as powerful as last month’s event kick-off!
You won’t get nearly as much out of this book if you haven’t read last issue, so get out there and pick it up ASAP!
Writer: Scott Snyder
Backup Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Artists: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki
Backup Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Cover: Greg Capullo
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in BATMAN: Bruce Wayne is back in Gotham and is fighting crime under the radar. We meet the Red Hood Gang, a crime syndicate on the rise. There’s also trouble afoot at Wayne Enterprises with Philip Kane in charge and a familiar face as his advisor – Edward Nigma!
BRUCE IS LEARNING THINGS THE HARD WAY!
Last time, Bruce was busy trying to take on Gotham’s underworld using some tricks of the trade we’ve come to know by now, including great face masks that cover his identity well and more up-to-date technology. He made mistakes, and that continues this month as well.
He’s not the only one who needs to “up their game,” as Bruce tells E. Nigma to do.
Bruce has been trained by the best around the world, but he’s still learning that even he can be surprised. The biggest reveal of the issue was Philip literally unveiling his nephew’s recent return to the city during a ceremony full of press and well-known celebrities in Gotham. Boy, is he shocked!
Another interesting portion of this comic shows Bruce appearing as Oswald Cobblepot when he encounters the Red Hood Gang in a dirigible flying over the city. “Red Hood One” has a rival mobster thrown out of that high-flying craft while telling him, “You forgot your chute!”
This book also makes me think that the aforementioned “Red Hood One” is actually the person who turns into the Joker later on. Mr. Snyder’s take is very different from Alan Moore’s origin story for Batman’s biggest foe. During The Killing Joke, the Joker is actually a patsy made to look like the gang’s leader and suffers the fall into a vat of acid while trying to escape, terrified. This time, “Red Hood One” is clearly in charge and already quite the nasty. The clues that make me think he’ll be the Joker are when he refers to Mr. Wayne as “Brucie,” a common phrase the Joker has used in the past, and the shape of his pointed nose when we see the character as a silhouette before putting his helmet on. He also considers “the vigilante” to be like him, both men on missions. We’ll see if I’m right or not.
Another interesting confrontation takes place between Bruce and Alfred, who is trying to keep Bruce from completely entering into a war on crime that the butler feels can never be won. Bruce is quick to anger at this stage of his development, and after Alfred endures the heat of an outburst and slaps Bruce in the face, he leaves Wayne Manor, something that Alfred would do in the future a few times. But this was the first! Bruce has a lot to learn about getting along with others!
The backup story shows Bruce learning how to apply his knowledge and problem-solving skills to help him escape from a deathtrap. “When you can wield the impossible,” he’s told, “you can create wonders.”
THE ISSUE’S ART SHINES AS WELL!
As always, Capullo’s art (with Miki’s inks) continues to be a perfect match for Snyder’s story, as it has since the two started working together when the New 52 began.
Every once in a while, Mr. Capullo throws some especially interesting use of graphics, as he did back in Batman #5. That entire comic turned upside, much like Batman’s world was doing at that time. This month, he illustrates an ongoing conversation taking place in a museum setting by placing it inside a wheel resembling an Aztec calendar, as it spins to the center. Each bit of dialogue is numbered, if the reader needs that to keep track of what’s being said to whom.
Also, Albuquerque’s art again fits the backup story. It’s 180 degrees different from last month’s action-packed tale, with this month being much more of a tale of suspense.
BOTTOM LINE: “ZERO YEAR” CONTINUES TO EXCEL!
Honestly, I had such high expectations after the “Court of Owls” and “Death of the Family” stories that I wasn’t sure “Zero Year” could match them. But I should have known better! Whenever you see the names of this issue’s creators on a book, buy it because it’s going to be great storytelling! Now I have to find the patience to wait a whole month for the next chapter. This issue gets five out of five stars.