Main story by: Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Jonathan Glapion (inks), FCO Plascencia (colors)
Back-up by: James Tynion IV (writer), Andy Clarke (art), FCO Plascencia (colors)
The Story: A flash-back story of Bruce Wayne before he really was the Batman. Kinda Year One style.
Review: This is a tricky comic to review. It flashes back to a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne and shows him making awkward attempts to fight crime. We get to see early prototypes of the Batsuit (cool!) and an early rooftop conversation between Bruce and Jim Gordon (also cool). [In hindsight….this rooftop conversation is very clever. We all know that Gordon talks to BATMAN on the roof a lot, but he doesn’t talk to BRUCE up there much. But, it makes sense since Bruce hasn’t fully become Batman at this point in time. Snyder is a clever devil…] Then the back-up tale focuses mostly on Jim Gordon’s relationship with his daughter and young Tim Drake and Dick Grayson.
I came away confused. I didn’t understand the point of using the #0 issue to introduce a Red Hood character because I follow comic blogs enough to know that the next story is Joker-centric. So, where will this Red Hood material fold in? Knowing Scott Snyder, there will be some incredibly sophisticated and smooth combination of the stories at some point, but for now….it’s just kinda hanging there.
There isn’t even a lot to gawk at from the Capullo/Glapion/Plascencia art team because the comic is mostly talking panels. Making that portion of the comic interesting and smooth shows what gifted artists they are and it shows Snyder’s confidence in their ability. But, honestly–I read Batman to see someone getting punched in the face. Now, the silver lining here is that these quiet scenes allow one to really focus on how incredible Glapion is. He doesn’t get anywhere near enough credit for the look and feel of this comic. Look at all those delicate and nuanced strokes! You know how some artists look like they ink with a Sharpie? Well, Glapion looks like he inks with the finest brushes and pens he can find. It’s lovely.
The back-up is a nice story, but – honestly – I’m not really interested in reading a Tynion/Clark Batman story. I’ve reached the point in my comic reading where I’m down to a total of ~5 superhero titles that are all perfect storms of Writer/Artist/Character. I’ll buy Jason Aaron/Chris Bachalo/X-Men and I’ll buy Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo/Batman, but I’m just not interested in reading as soon as one of those items change when there are so many outstanding creator-owned comics out there. But that’s just me. The Batman devotees will probably love the Tynion/Clark back-up.
In the end, this issue really isn’t for people like me who have read hundreds of issues of Batman in all his different flavors: Golden Age, Silver Age, Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, 90’s, 2000’s, Elseworlds, Future-worlds, etc. “We” read this issue and probably shrug our shoulders and say, “But I already knew all of these characters basic backgrounds. What’s the point?” The answer is that it isn’t for “us”, this is a comic for people who only really started reading Batman with the #1 issue last fall. They don’t know about the Bruce/Batman – Jim Gordon relationship. They don’t know about Tim and Dick’s origins. And they really shouldn’t have to root through all those musty old issues to find that material either. I’d be tempted to tell them to go read Year 1 and the Knightfall-saga for all you need to know about the Bruce/Batman/Gordon/Tim/Dick relationships. But, it’s that attitude that’s hurting comics a little bit: “Go read these 76 musty back-issues and it’ll tell you all you need to know.” And, not to mention that although Year 1 holds up as a masterpiece, Knightfall is a silly story when viewed through modern eyes.
So, this is a good issue for what it is, but it’s just not for “us”.
Conclusion: A nice issue that could probably be skipped for longtime Bat-fans, but is very worthwhile for anyone new.
– Dean Stell