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

The Story: Riddler pulls his final move as Gotham descends into chaos.

The Review (with minor SPOILERS): I could almost copy and past the preamble to these Batman reviews at this point: This is another very, very good issue of Batman from Snyder, Capullo & Co.

We’ve now entered the final chapter of this very long Zero Year story and it’s all come down to Batman versus Riddler in a post-apocalypse version of Gotham.  Even though we have a young Batman and a young(er) Gordon, by now we have characters that long-time Bat-readers will recognize with Gordon and Batman working together as a team.  All they have to do is figure out a way to solve the riddle of the Riddler.

What makes this issue special is how smartly Snyder was able to include a post-apocalypse theme into a cannonical Bat-story.  I think we’ve seen Batman in a destroyed Gotham before, but it’s usually some old Batman in an elseworlds-type story.  I guess there was No Man’s Land, but that felt very different – the snow, perhaps?  Still, it was very clever to see this Gotham that was destroyed by Pamela Isley’s botanical research.  The way Greg Capullo depicts Gotham, it looks like something out of The Last of Us or countless other post-apocalypse stories.  I love stories of the apocalypse because they smash enough rules of society that we can see new constructs arise…

Enter the Riddler.  I really enjoy the bigger picture question that he is putting to Batman and Gotham in this story.  He’s basically tackling the problems of the modern world (pollution, climate change, wealth inequality, food production, overpopulation, etc.) by turning Gotham into a microcosm of everything wrong in the world and challenging someone to solve the riddle.  My goodness, don’t you wish we could chuck some real life politicians into this fictional Gotham and tell them that they cannot come out until they have fixed everything?

Comics are better when they are about something bigger than a villain who is trying to blow up the city and Snyder has found a way to add this to his wrinkle to a story with a lot of ancient characters.  Bravo!

Again, the art is glorious and lovely.  I love how Capullo and Company have managed to give parts of Batman a fluffy and ethereal look.  Usually “Batman” is all about harsh lines, lots of black and dark shadows.  It’s wonderful to see all these great images in a Bat-comic that aren’t just Batman striking-a-pose.  Even the little artistic touches are great, like that “evolution of man” that Capullo worked into the panel border.  Clever, talented and hard working, DC should give Capullo all the money so that he doesn’t draw some other comic.

Conclusion: Zero Year is powering to an excellent ending.  The story is entertaining, beautiful and even touches on some real-world problems.  Bravo!

Grade: A-

-Dean Stell