The ongoing stars of the New 52 turn in another masterful chapter of Batman’s modernised origin, as Zero Year continues!
Continuing the events of last issue, our neophyte Batman finds himself ambushed and surrounded by Gotham City Police, who put the effectiveness of his body armour to the test under a hail of gun fire, including a devastating shot to the head. Cornered, wounded, with his equipment damaged, his suit in tatters and his tactics constantly frustrated by a prepared and disciplined force, Batman desperately attempts escape while the plans of Zero Year’s true villain begin to unfurl.
In Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo succeed in putting the Batman through his paces. Even in his present-day take on a character with a reputation for near-omniscience and unbeatable skill, Scott Snyder strikes the right balance between Batman’s ability and fallibility, with the balance tipped to the latter in this younger and more arrogant past incarnation. The challenges he faces in this story are genuine, and more than equal to the fledgling costumed detective, recently returned home from eight years of training, but with very little experience in the application of that training.
The other great moment occurs between Bruce and Alfred, whose interactions have been consistently engaging and one of the strongest arcs of Zero Year. In this issue Alfred chastises Bruce for doing too much on his own, admittedly not new to the superhero genre, however, Alfred’s thesis behind Bruce’s behaviour is not only damning, but also rings true emotionally for an angry young man who lost his parents and feels like the world has failed him. It’s a wonderful scene that adds new depth to a 75 year old character, suggesting that a man who travelled the world for years and becoming an expert in any number of skills to devote himself to a one man war on crime, wouldn’t necessarily be so magnanimous about it. That instead, a man would take pride and have vanity in those skills he acquired, and garner resentment towards others because of it. By merely hinting at these negative qualities, Snyder succeeds in humanising a character famous for his untouchable, aloof and single-minded nature, which often times can make him seem more alien than Superman.
Fans of action will get a thrill out of seeing this younger Batman fight with his back against the wall, and also those looking for a deeper insight into the character should definitely pick up this issue. Now bring on Part 8! Savage City!