Batman #21 - Zero Year Pt. 1 Review

CoverRating:˜…˜… Zero Year is off to a tremendous start. Not only do Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo come blasting out of the gate at full speed, but they obliterate any lingering doubts in their wake. Those who were apprehensive to €œanother Batman origin€ can go ahead and put those reseverations to rest, because Zero Year is a totally unique Batman experience unlike anything that€™s been done before. It€™s paradoxically unlike Year One, but enough like what audiences have come to expect from the caped crusader to prevent them from crying sacrilege. There is so much that happens in this issue that it€™s hard to really know where to begin. It might take a couple of readings to catch everything, but after you put this book down you will probably be eager to pick it right back up. Not only does the book contain the story about Bruce Wayne facing his first real battle after returning to Gotham, but it also has a lot of little references to various items of the Batman lore to make readers salivate. The light post on Crime Alley, the giant coin that will eventually adorn the Batcave, and the brilliant use of an old hat that belonged to Thomas Wayne as the origin of Robin€™s iconic €œR€ symbol all add up to show that Snyder is expanding upon the Batman backstory in an incredible way. brucedisguise Bruce has returned to Gotham to wage his war on crime and prevent innocent people from suffering. He has even set up his base of operations on Crime Alley to serve as a constant reminder and motivation. However, while he was gone he was declared legally dead, and he insists to Alfred that he is going to stay that way. His motives for wanting Gotham to not know that he is alive and back in town are never really fleshed out, but expect something to change in future issues because we all know that Bruce Wayne is a prominent figure in Gotham City. It€™s likely that Snyder is writing Bruce to be aware of the fact that reappearing in Gotham in tremendous shape at the same time that a new vigilante is sweeping up the streets makes it pretty obvious who€™s behind the mask. The middle of the issue shows that he has no problem bringing a reader€™s perception of the title into the story, and nowhere is this more apparent than when Phillip Kane explains to his nephew Bruce that €œThe city has always had a hard time trusting the Kane€™s. We€™ve had more than our share of scandal and controversy,€ mirroring the sentiment of many regarding the accuracy of €œBatman created by Bob Kane.€ dirtbike-->

Snyder had said that Bruce becomes Batman pretty early on in this story, and he wasn€™t lying. While the majority of the story in this issue is an expansion of what we saw from Batman #0 with the Red Hood gang, and Bruce€™s various facial masks, within the first couple of pages there is a huge panel of a fledgling Batman. The cowl is present, but no cape or gadgets. It€™s just Bruce on a dirt bike in military style clothing with his belt, and a lot of extra gear €“ similar to his first outing into the night in Batman Begins.

Remember during Death of the Family when Snyder had said that he wanted to do a Riddler arc in the future? Then he mentioned how he was working on his most ambitious Batman story to date? A lot of people had assumed that the Riddler arc was being shelved until after Zero Year wraps in a year, but nope! Not only is this Snyder€™s big and ambitious arc, not only is this the New 52 origin tale of the Dark Knight, but this is also the Riddler arc.


The reveal towards the end not only sets up an early villain (duration of conflict still to be seen), but also shows the size and scope of the story that Snyder is about to tell. The single panel of the Riddler€™s iconic staff as the mystery unfolds that Bruce€™s uncle Phillip is secretly planning to betray him, to the almost-splash page of Edward Nygma in all of his brilliance/madness, shows that a LOT is going to be uncovered in this arc. We€™ll see Nygma become the Riddler, and why, we€™ll see a conspiracy unfold that could be as grandiose as the Court of Owls and we€™ll see Bruce tackling a series of ordeals to expand the story of his training both in the main story and backup features.

So how does Zero Year stack up to Year One? While it€™s entirely too early to tell if Snyder€™s origin will eventually hold the same kind of importance to the mythology of Batman, what can be said is that it€™s shaping up to be just as good. Zero Year is going to be a huge, year long, eleven issue arc, and if it can maintain the momentum of the first issue then the next year is going to be something very special.


Christopher is an entertainment writer for WhatCulture and a contributing writer for He enjoys combat sports, comic books, video games and various other forms of entertainment where someone is getting punched in the face. Follow him on Twitter @Jonesy_859.