rating: 4The thing that I gripe about the most when discussing books in the New 52 is continuity. The problem goes deeper than just individual writers alluding to pre-New 52 events (either inadvertently or deliberately), but also from multiple books including the same characters. Keep in mind that in this volume of Batman, Bruce Wayne has only been wearing the cape and cowl for five years. This is why The Zero Year is going to be refreshing, and not just another redundant origin tale. So Batman has been fighting crime in Gotham for five years, but what about the villains which he fights? Snyder tackles some of the larger continuity errors that continue to plague the New 52 by focusing on what the villians have been up to in Gotham. He retells Clayfaces origins briefly enough so as not to distract from current events, while also adjusting Karlos story to fit the New 52. In reading Batman it suffices, but then when one considers if this backstory fits the lovestricken and manipulated Clayface from Detective Comics it brings contemplations upon continuity back into the question. Its unclear whether the lighter coloring palette is a result of the first act of this issue taking place during a daylight robbery, or the new ink and color team. It can be a bit jarring when you first open the pages if youre used to the more dark and brooding depictions of the Dark Knight. Then again, this isnt Batman or even Bruce Wayne that youre seeing rob a bank. In that regard I actually really like that the aesthetic is completetly different from what weve seen in this title. Its a wonderful juxtaposition of Clayface being Bruce Wayne, and the coloring not looking like the Batman that we are used to seeing. Speaking of Clayface, pretty much everyone called this one right when the gatefold was first revealed. Initial shock and excitement when the first half with just Bruce Wayne holding a gun had many speculating just how intense the fallout from Death of the Family was going to be. Of course, at the time no one knew that Death of the Family would end up being relatively tame when compared to the events of Batman, Inc. Then they revealed the second part of the gatefold and it ended up that Bruce Wayne was pointing the gun at non-other than perennial Batman ally Comissioner Jim Gordon. The shock didnt last long as many speculated that it wasnt Bruce Wayne on the cover at all, but rather Clayface. I enjoy that Clayface is the main villain in this two-issue arc that Snyder has deemd a mini-mystery because its nice to see Snyder and Capullo flesh out their use of the rogue gallery. Hes shown up in Detective Comics, but his role was relegated to more of a victim like status. While I enjoy writers taking creative leaps to depict characters in a manner different than that which we as readers are accustomed to (especially with the iron fisted grip that DC maintains on all of their intellectual properties), every now and then its nice to see them show up in their most glorious incarnations. This issue takes place less than a week after Damians death and Bruce is still struggling with the grieving process. Alfred is becoming a central character in this post-Damian landscape because, as he is the one person who knows Bruce Wayne better than anyone, he is noticing all of the changes of behavior. He is seeing parallels to the loss of Jason Todd, but on a much larger and more alarming scale. Because of Damians death Bruce is unable to attend the funeral of Brian Wade (and who could blame him?), but that doesnt prevent the worlds greatest detective from noticing that something isnt quite right about Wades supposed suicide. And thats what this issue focuses on the most Batmans keen detective skills. In fact, it almost reads like an issue of Detective Comics (keep in mind that is where Snyder got his start on Batman) as the Caped Crusdaer unravels the mystery surrounding the Brian Wade/Clayface plot, and theres a panel through Batmans view as he uses a facial recognition device in his cowl. Its something that is simultanouesly and paradoxically overstated and not stated enough Snyder and Capullo are so in sync when it comes to this title that each issue is something special. The back-up feature written by James Tynion IV has Batman and Superman investigating a bizarre and supernatural occurrence, while also keeping Damians death relevant. The way that Tynion writes Superman shows that he is one of DCs up and comers to keep an eye on. Superman tries to connect with Bruce, but he struggles with human concepts both physically and emotionally. He tries to let Bruce know that he can talk, but doesn't give him the space to grieve. He encounters very human experiences such as nausea and confusion, but is rendered almost incapable by them. With a spot open at Action Comics (hoping and praying that Lobdells run is only temporary) Tynion might finally be able to step out of the shadow of Gotham or , at the very least, make Red Hood and the Outlaws readable. Read this comic? Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.