Friday, July 25, 2014

Comic Book Review: Batman #33 and Zero Year as a whole

I'll leave my Batman #33 review in the video and just discuss the arc here. For the record, the issue got a 9.4/10.

As for Zero Year as a whole, I say it in the video, but this is both now my favorite Riddler story and my favorite Batman origin story. Yes, I include Year One in that discussion.

A year of glorious reading (Issue 28 not shown because
it wasn't part of Zero Year)
Part of my reasoning, I think, falls on the fact that Zero Year builds on the iconic scenes in Year One while replacing some of the more questionable sequences with development of characters.

Obviously, my biggest gripes with Year One - Jim Gordon's affair and hooker Catwoman - are gone here and instead, we get a look into how Jim dealt with the early corruption in the town. This version of Gordon seemed to be legitimately trying to avoid getting involved but had a 'look in the mirror' moment the day of the Waynes' deaths. I really like that development and it builds on the theme that Gotham brings out a person's character.

Maybe it's the length that helped it. After all, I take Superman: Birthright as the definitive Supes origin and it was a 12-issue series. Perhaps that length allows for a real cohesive story to come together or something...

One credit I'll say is lost when moving to Zero Year is the fact that Snyder tried to make too much happen on the day the Waynes died. It isn't much, but I don't think I need Bruce playing hooky being the reason they were at the movies. I prefer the day before being left to mystery like in Year One.

That said, one thing I still remember from the early part of this arc that sticks with me are the backup stories. Those sequences of Bruce training were aspects I've never really seen explored during the in-comic origin and I was glad to see them, especially the one where Bruce wins a 100-on-1 death match without dealing a single fatality.

I'm still very undecided on how I feel about the final addition to Bruce's pre-Batman days in the final issue. One one hand, it's great for the emotion of the story and I nearly cried at Alfred's heartbreak, but at the same time, I don't know if I want a Batman this broken. I am a big fan of 60s Batman and pre-Crisis Batman and though there was tragedy to the character, they were still capable of finding happiness in life and could have optimism about society while still acknowledging there is a big fight to maintain it.

Still, since this is pre-Robin and the rest of the Bat-family, I suppose I can let it go. Quite honestly, any complaints with any parts of this arc are nitpicks. Heck, my biggest complaint with Issue #33 is that three pages were spent on blank space. Yes, it was for artistic effect, but it threw me off my game for a minute.

All of that said, I truly believe Scott Snyder has finally told a complete arc that can stand toe-to-toe with 'The Black Mirror.'

I want to commend Greg Capullo and FCO one more time for the art in this book, which managed to tie into so much of the iconic Batman art of old while still giving it a modern take. And there are plenty of images I hope become iconic in the Batman lore as well.

Alfred slapping Bruce, the image of the penny on Lucius' car, the original Bat-signal, shaved head Bruce, and the criminals tied up in the shape of a bat. All were great images that really demonstrated these two at their best, and I didn't even count all the glorious panoramic spreads with oh so much detail spent on the background and texture.

This is the epitome of a book that is both expertly written and beautiful to look at. On the celebration of 75 years of Batman, I think the origin for Batman has been re-defined yet again.

Thank you, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, FCO and any others I may have missed. I look forward to the trade of this story.

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