I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Scott Snyder has written a story that’s not the best one in its book. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Check out the official description of Batman #0 from DC:
• Bruce Wayne has returned from his worldwide quest to take the law into his own hands! • This issue reveals the early steps of building everything that surrounds Batman – the costume, the cave, the car, the gadgets!
The main story by Snyder is a vignette that, chronologically, would be set early in Bruce’s first year back in Gotham. But it updates the setting with some near-future technology and adds new details about Bruce’s relationship with Gotham, his family and its legacy, and Jim Gordon. We also get to see his first encounter with the Red Hood, who may or may not be the man who becomes the Joker.
It’s all interesting, and it creates a pile of new threads for Snyder to explore going forward, but the teaser line at the end reveals the story will be continued in 2013, so we’re essentially left hanging, with no clue if that continuation will be set in the present day or feature more flashbacks. Only the Red Hood element is immediately relevant (maybe), with the Joker returning next month, and even that may only be thematically tied to the “Death of the Family” arc.
After a whole year, everyone know that Greg Capullo draws some great Batman, but he doesn’t get much chance to wow us here. One page showing Bruce’s bunker hideout is cool, and the maybe-future-Joker’s exposed chin was so fascinating that I’m even more excited for next month. Capullo’s younger Bruce and Gordon were disconcerting, because they looked so similar to, but not quite the same as, the ones I’m used to.
Interesting as the main story was, it’s the backup by James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke that stole the show. Tynion picks a very specific moment – the first lighting of the Bat-signal – and shows where each of Bruce’s apprentices were at the time and how they reacted to it. Each of their situations perfectly reflects their character, as do their feelings about the signal: Barbara is fascinated, Tim is awed, Jason is unsettled, and Dick is… curious? I’ll go with curious. Andy Clarke’s art is introspective; it reminds me of Gabriel Rodriguez‘ work on Locke & Key (which is a good thing). He gives all the teenagers a great, gawky quality.
One final thing: the Tim pages of the backup are particularly satisfying, because they give us a little bit of the Tim we definitely haven’t been getting in over in Teen Titans, and they only further intensify my desire for a Red Robin solo book, for which Tynion would apparently be a great choice for writer.