By: Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Danny Miki (inks), FCO Plascencia (colors) and Steve Wands (letters)

The Story: Batman tries to disrupt Riddlers plans for Gotham.

The Review (with SPOILERS): This story is really hitting all the high notes right now.  What strikes me the most is that it is great in spite of a few structural things that bug me.

  • Overall length of the story/Passage of time: If you read many Marvel titles or The Walking Dead right now, a comic like Batman that comes out every 4 weeks (like clockwork) seems a little slow.  But Zero Year has been cleverly broken into subcomponents so that no parts of the story seem elderly.  There is an art to a Scott Snyder story where you are rewarded if you remember details, but never punished if things slip from your brain.  It’s hard to put my finger on how he does it and I suspect that it isn’t easy or obvious even to other writers – or else everyone would do it.
  • Interruptions in the story: Those stand alone issues that have allowed Greg Capullo to maintain this incredible pace of storytelling have been perfectly placed.  They’ve broken the story into chapters and still been relevant enough to the overall tale to not feel like filler. Last issue was one of those issues and here we are coming back without missing a beat.
  • Lots of words: I usually like my comics to have fewer words to an allow the artist to do their thing.  But Scott Snyder has this easy and flowing way of writing that makes wordiness work.  It amazes me.  I mean, I write a lot for this blog (and others) and I tend to write in a more conversational manner, and I’m an acceptable writer.  But when I proof-read my work, I find all of these clumsy sentences, weird phrases, run-on thoughts…  Snyder just flows.  It’s one of those things where I look at his writing and remind myself to keep my day job.  I’m not saying that Snyder doesn’t work his butt off to get the story right, but I think he also has an innate talent for words that few other people can approach.

The art is glorious.  So much good stuff from the Capullo/Miki/FCO team.  Earnest faces, glorious colors, a monstrous villain.  It’s wonderful.  There isn’t a better looking comic on the stands and they do it all without sacrificing the storytelling.

The opening sequence is a great example of the excellence of the creators.  It’s just little Bruce talking to his dad about movies.  I mean, that could be such a crappy and boring sequence IF Scott Snyder weren’t such a smooth writer and IF the Capullo/Miki/FCO team were not so good at creating emotion from talking heads.  So many other great images in this issue: Bat blimps, Batman leaping through the storm, Dr. Death’s mutation-thing going bananas, the boulder poised over Gordon’s head…  Wonderful, wonderful art.

Conclusion: A great Batman story keeps getting better.  The creative talent on this comic is as good as it gets.

Grade: A

-Dean Stell