By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki & FCO Plascencia
Batman the series, since the New 52 began, has been a great number of things; from being a stellar book that instantly leaped to the top of the DC heap to being a book that, for some, had grown stale with mountains of crossovers and oversaturation that eventually led it to being dropped off their monthly pull list. I fell into the latter category. Batman just wasn’t doing it for me; for one or more reasons it wasn’t hitting the marks that it had previously and having such a competitive market of comics it was quickly apparent that it was time to make room for something else. Don’t consider that a shot at any of the extremely talented names that put the book together, because it’s not. Everybody involved is a top notch creator in their own right and deserve all the praise they’ve gotten and will continue to get for their work here, or anywhere else for that matter.
Catching up on Zero Year in one quick burst that consisted of the last three issues, minus #28, seemed to do the trick. It gives better scope to something of this magnitude and will undoubtedly read even better in trade form—even if Snyder decides to mess around with his writing as he’s been known to do for a collection. After reading those issues, it was clear that dropping Batman was a mistake. Are all the issues perfect and amazing and worthy of being noted among the best stories ever told with Batman? Probably not, but together… well, together they’re something else entirely. To take the Bat-Bible, so to speak, that is Year One and flip it on its head and do Zero Year takes balls, guts, and a tremendous amount of skill. Why this preface? Why all this extra explanation in this review of issues #29? Simply put: I was wrong to doubt Batman.
The conclusion of part two of the three part mega arc Zero Year was nothing short of spectacular. The build up for the last three issues pays off big time as Snyder steers Zero Year towards Savage City and the finale of his, and artist Greg Capullo’s, take on the beginnings of The Batman.
Snyder’s Zero Year is an expansive take on not only the beginnings of Batman but the beginnings of some of his most notable villains. It’s interesting to see The Riddler and what he’s capable of, especially when you look at other portrayals of the character over the years. Snyder takes him very seriously, and rightfully so, considering how easily Gotham and its citizens, its police force, and even Batman himself, have played right into his hand from the start. On the other side of that coin (great, used that line and Two-Face isn’t even around) is how Snyder has portrayed this young, naive Batman who might be tough and he might be smarter than your average bear but he’s still got a lot to learn. It’s not often, if at all, that we get to see ol’ Bats make these kinds of mistakes and second guess himself or underestimate the villains around him because we’re all so used to Batman being fourteen steps ahead of everybody with every possible scenario mapped and planned out.
Now, you take a story like that which explores a naive Batman just starting out, a no holds barred Riddler and destruction on a massive scale and you put a group of guys like Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO on it and you have, quite possibly, one of the greatest looking issues from any publisher, ever. We all know this by now if we’ve learned just one thing from Batman, and that’s Greg Capullo pours his heart and soul into each and every line he puts to paper for Batman. This guy is an absolute superstar on a scale rarely seen before and one that we might not get again for a long, long time. His commitment to telling the story that Snyder writes and adding his own twists and turns just elevates everything to an entirely new level. Long before this issue came out, it was easy to say that Capullo solidified himself as one of the top Batman artists since his creation in 1939. Producing work like this is simply one more example of why that’s true. Batman, Doctor Death, Gordon, The Riddler, the storm and the destruction of Gotham are all just flawlessly done. Doctor Death in particular, as the issue goes forward, turns into something that Capullo probably could have drawn back in Spawn days and it would have been right at home. It’s twisted and gruesome and makes your skin crawl, but it’s just so fantastically done that you can’t look away.
We, of course, wouldn’t get the same look on Bats without the great ink work and heavy blacks of Danny Miki and the insane colors of FCO. Especially in Zero Year, it seems as though FCO has been experimenting with colors that are not often seen in the pages of a Batman book like lots of lighter colors, the purples and oranges and yellows, which really give the book a unique and different feeling than the Bat stuff that came before, even in this run.
These four are a force to be reckoned with. Batman is as good as everybody says, if not better, and Zero Year is here to prove it. This is an arc, and a run, that without a doubt people will be talking about for years to come, much like they talk of Frank Miller’s Year One. They’re tweaking this in the Batman mythos, and they’re putting their own stamp on it like, maybe, nobody else could. Truly, this is one of the best from DC and one of the best on the shelf and it was foolish to ever doubt that. In Snyder and Capullo we trust and with only a handful of issues to go in Zero Year we’re in for a spectacular finish.