Batman #0 ReviewOctober 5, 2012
Batman #0 is a fitting prequel to the legend of the Dark Knight.
September was Zero Month for DC Comics, heralding the release of numbered #0 comic books. #0’s are nothing new in the comic book industry and are normally utilized for origin stories or prequels to the main storyline. When Valiant Comics introduced their line of #0’s back in the nineties, they became highly sought after releases and fetched inflated valuations that could reach ten times the cover price. This, however, occurred during the much-vaunted comic book bubble era when speculations on values ran high and publications like The Death of Superman and Knightfall were being sold on release day for two or three times the cover price. Valiant’s Rai #0 was priced at $2.25. However, months after its release, I was seeing it with $50 price tags and hanging in mylar casings displayed on comic book stores’ walls. Since the bursting of that bubble, things have been dramatically different. DC’s releases are tagged at $3.99 each, and the company promises lots of surprises and first appearances within their covers. In the coming days, I’ll be reading and writing about a few of the #0 comics.
First on my reading list is Batman #0. Released September 12, 2012, it is written by Scott Snyder (Detective Comics, Human Torch, Iron Man: Noir), who has been doing a bang-up job when it comes to Batman comics. Delivering the artwork are artists Greg Capullo (X-Force, Spawn) on pencils and Jonathan Glapion (Superboy, Justice League, Aquaman) working the inks. Color is done by Fco Plascencia (Batman, American Vampire, Justice League International).
Before opening this book, my initial thought was: “Oh please, don’t tell me the ‘My parents are dead!’ story again.” We’ve been told this story countless times in numerous versions, and we get it. It was with a heavy sigh of relief when, only a few pages in, I found this to not be the case. The story is set after Bruce has gone through his world-hopping training regimen but before he realized the notion of donning the cape and cowl (his bumbling idiot phase). While this part of the Batman story has also been touched upon by various storytellers, this take on it is different and is a fitting prequel to the legend of the Dark Knight. The beginning of the Bat-family is also told in this book and we get to see the contrast in Robins before they become Robins. Conversational exchanges between the characters are nothing new or unexpected. Bruce’s change in demeanor as he switches between Bruce Wayne and the crimefighter (he isn’t Batman yet) is present. Alfred’s wit and sarcasm, Gordon’s hopefulness and detective’s inquisitive nature, Greyson’s arrogant quipping, and Tim Drake’s matter-of-fact deadpan are also all there. To me, this is a getting-to-know-them story. Again. While good, it’s nothing to blow me out of the water with.
I really like how the art goes with the story in this book, however. The characters are fleshed out with meaningful expression. The artists’ work on body language and facial reactions are worth noticing. This aspect of the illustrations is done really well, flowing naturally with the story. It was easy to disregard during the first reading because of how perfectly it fit.The book is also drawn with a lot of motion and those turned out great, too. The action comes off as plausible and realistic, with the movements easy to follow as you go from one panel to the next. Panel placement gave the comic the feel of a very well storyboarded TV episode. In fact, it felt like watching something instead of reading it. This, to me, is the mark of good comic book making and a credit to the book’s collaborating writers and artists.
While I’m not reading the #0’s in any particular order, Batman felt like a natural place to start. He is my favorite, after all. Fans of Batman, and especially of Snyder’s work, will not be disappointed. Although it’s just another retelling of the beginnings of the Dark Knight and his associates, it has a well-paced story bolstered by good and fitting artwork with enough differences to set it apart from the other versions. I hope this is a good indicator of the quality of the #0’s. I look forward to reading some more.