“Zero Year” is the new telling of the origin of The World’s Greatest Detective: Batman, which spanned a year (June 2013 – July 2014). Written mainly by Scott Snyder and penciled by Greg Capullo, — but with so many other talented creators as well — this story gives us background to Bruce Wayne and his progression to establish himself as Batman. What can I say other than holy smokes this art is out of this world. I don’t know how many times I said to myself, “I need this print, seriously… Michelle get it.” The pencilling is phenomenal. Especially with the addition of the colors and contrast. I just can’t give it any more praise.
“Zero Year” expands on a theme of crime more focused on today’s issues that we feel and worry about. It hits home. We aren’t worried about nuclear war for example — we are scared of the unknown, the random acts of terror. The meaninglessness of it: destruction for the sake of destruction.
It also does a great job making the connection that Batman has to be accepted by the people of Gotham and he has to mean something to them. The repeating question, “What do you love about Gotham?” was building the connection to the people of Gotham: that he and them are one. Everyone has a reason they love Gotham, through the grit the grime, the terror and crime (that rhymed) there is something that they hold close to their heart, which is why they love the city. They feel inspired by this Bat-creature and through time he isn’t just seen as a vigilante, he is a symbol of Gotham.
The storyline follows Bruce Wayne and how he becomes The Bat in what is a very today’s kind of world. I’m sure every Bat-fan was skeptical about another origin story, but I remember hearing Snyder talk about what to expect from Zero Year at Boston Comic Con a few years ago, and I knew he would take it in an original direction, but with depth — and he succeeded. A must read for any fan.
Origins Within an Origin
I LOVED seeing some other origins that were not necessarily character origins. For example, ever wonder the story behind the Penny in the Batcave? Or how the Batarang came along? Fun little tidbits for any ultimate fan to know.
The Alfred and Bruce Conundrum
We all know Alfred is Bruce’s right hand man, but it wasn’t always like that, and Alfred did not always think Bruce was making his parents proud. Awesome to see the conversation that lead to their unbreakable bond and how Alfred promises to always be there to patch Bruce up.
Arkham and Bruce
The backstory of all backstories! Now we see that Bruce Wayne was actually a patient at Arkham Asylum. This intriguing backstory of Bruce battling with his mental health after his parents death and how he turned to Arkham for treatment. Woah! I’ve always loved thinking about the possibility of Batman / Bruce being “crazy” and I am pretty sure he is, but this makes Batman so much more human, and I love it.
The Search for Happiness
After dealing with death, any human has to find the motivation to move on, to find happiness and be content with living again once everything is stripped from you. I loved this story looking into Bruce’s motivation towards happiness. Batman is what makes him happy, “It’s all that makes [him] happy.” He is not just wearing his “formal wear” to fight crime and serve justice, and make sure no one ever goes through what he went through, but also to stay happy and somewhat mentally sane. The “Batman Cowl” is a mask to Bruce as much as the “Bruce-Wayne-billionaire-playboy-persona” is a mask to Batman. Brilliant.
Origin of the Batman
I loved seeing the resemblance to Year One, as the Bat flies into a window. I remember in my apartment growing up, a bat once flew in our window and I was dead certain I was going to be Batman. It’s iconic but Snyder gave it a little twist from the original reasoning which was well thought through.
Also one of the best things from “Zero Year” were the little short flashback stories of Bruce’s training. We go back to ages nineteen, twenty-one, and twenty-four, crucial years for every human growing up and seeing how he learned to drive, dealt with the unpredictable, his combat training, as well as the mentality to not kill and never give up.
All in all, a fantastic origin story that really gives Batman a sense of humanity and character depth, but in today’s culture. You need to read this.
ISSUES #21-#33 IN READING ORDER:
(Sources: DC Comics)