Wednesday, August 14, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman #23

As we left off, the Red Hood gang blew Bruce's apartment to hell, but he managed to shield himself from the blast, only to find the gang hovering above him, followed by a pretty big beating. The Red Hood tells Bruce that he should never have come back, but also thanks him for leading his parents out of the theatre that night, as it was that random act of violence which inspired him to create his gang. He talks a bit more about his and the gang's philosophy, but once the fire gets too bad, he quickly wraps up by telling Bruce he hopes to inspire someone they way he was inspired, and shoots Bruce twice, giving cheers to symmetry.

The. End.

Boy Zero Year sure is crazy!

...okay, he didn't die. Because Bruce Wayne is (or will be) the god damn Batman, he doesn't die, and manages to crawl all the way back to the manor, all while having flash backs to his father rescuing him from the cave.

Elsewhere, Philip Kane has a gun pointed at Edward Nygma, enraged that he sent the Red Hood gang after his nephew. Edward tells Philip he was doing him a favor, but Philip doesn't buy it. Edward continues, saying that if he ends up on the pavement, Philip wouldn't want the cops investigating his involvement in the company, but Philip has plan... He never let any of Edward's information leave his server, and without Edward's knowing, had a giant electromagnet installed beneath the floor, that could wipe all his hard drives and information clean, which can only be activated by a password only he knows. So, with all that laid out, Philip asks his former Strategist, given his contingency plans and his family's history in Gotham, is there any doubt he won't pull the trigger?

Well... too bad for Philip, Edward does know the password, which is "Cain." As soon as he says it, the magnet turns on, and Philip, who has an older metal plate in his skull, hits the ground. Edward then grabs a few things and offers his resignation, saying he may offer his services to the Powers family. Philip doesn't let Edward have the last laugh, pointing out with his history, he can only be an anonymous figure behind the scenes, and whats the point of all his intelligence then. He tells Edward that he'll always be "nothing but an empty question mark."

Bruce later wakes up in the manor, having been operated on and patched up by Alfred, who levels with Bruce. He tells the soon-to-be-Dark-Knight that they'll disagree, they'll fight, but no matter what he'll always be there to patch him up. That's his promise to Bruce.

Next is a familiar scene, Bruce, beaten to shit, alone in the Manor's study, speaking to his father about how he has failed, only this time, he's grabbed a few personal effects, one of which was that camera he had dropped down the cave all those years ago. The camera activates and starts to project the image of the cave within the room, bats and all.

Bruce sits down, and puts the camera on a table, where it rolls off and breaks. With the room returning to normal, a single (real) bat remains, and...

"Yes, father I shall become a bat."

This is followed up by the back-up where Bruce is in a king of the hill style fight for over 24 hours, with his master not allowing it to stop until he understands he must kill to finish it. Bruce obviously doesn't obey by this teaching, and it gets to the point that no other man will face him, because they all believe him to be crazy or some sort of demon.

The Good:

Zero Year is different, all sorts of crazy, and entertaining, through and through. While this was a lighter issue in terms of story, as most of the issue was dependent on the visuals, it offers up a few developments with some Joker flirtations, and the Riddler defining his path, along with the delivery of a pivotal scene. Despite the modern twist, that one scene remains intact, and was obviously treated with a lot of respect, which is greatly important, although I'm sure there will be the usual group of detractors.

As said above, this was a visual heavy issue, and despite the lack of large amounts of story progression, Capullo, Miki and FCO carried the issue perfectly, creating the sense of atmosphere and pacing that the issue needed.

The Bad: 

There is that part of me that is sort of rubbed the wrong way with the Year One stuff. Prior to this there was a lot of "this is it's own thing, Year One is still good" and recently there's been a lot of "Year One wouldn't work in the New 52," so I mean, which is it? In a sense, it's almost noncommittal in either direction, and I'd rather them just go all in on the changes rather than flirt with Year One, because if you change the context of the bat scene, then everything is changed from Year One, and you might as well not try and salvage it, and press on. That's pretty much the direction things are going anyways, and given that I have a TPB of Year One that I can read whenever, I don't really mind, I just kind of wish someone would come out and say "Okay, yeah, fuck Year One.  This is all us!" (not that rashly, just get the general point across).

Also, not a problem with the issue, but god damn it... I broke my rule with Scott Snyder, and listened/read some of his interviews, and here I thought he was playing everything close to the chest... but nope, pretty much just repeated the dialogue of that Joker Red Hood scene, which would have been great not to have already have heard going in. My exact reaction when I recognized that dialogue "Oh, fucking shit!" Sorry Scott, you're a cool dude, I like you and all, but I can't read any interview ever again.

The Bottom Line:

If I had to use one word to describe this issue, it would be "deliberate." The larger plot takes a back seat for an issue so the Batman team could really take it's time, and respectfully recreate their version of Batman's most pivotal scene. That's not to say there is absolutely no advancement of the story, but the deliberate intentions of this issue were abundantly clear. The portrayal of this moment in Batman's life was what it needed to be, respectful, but with the Zero Year twist.  Though everything was treated with the care and respect it deserved, there's still that part of me that sort of grins and bears it through all the changes. As a die-hard Batman fan, you can't help but be nervous about some of this stuff, but it's safe to say Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and company aren't exactly coming in with a sledgehammer, but instead are doing everything as delicately as possible.



  1. Given the back and forth between Bruce and Alfred as of late, that scene on the bed is pretty awesome. Also, for Alfred to admit his own guilt about not saving the Waynes is a great insight into why he will join Bruce on this crusade. Year One definitely doesn't really have such an admission and promise from Alfred. I get what you're saying about maybe being too delicate, but I liked that distinction between Zero and One. I think my real issue with how they dealt with the study scene is though it's visually beautiful, Snyder could have given a bit more internal monologue. Then again, that might just be because I'm so fond of Miller's writing in that scene.

  2. How awesome would it be to have Rafael Albuquerque on a regular Batman title?

    And ya I agree with you about the Year One seen. Either go your own way or leave it out completely. I dislike the magical crystal ball camera thingy. Seems too advanced for that time period and to be included in the Year One scene.

  3. What is up with that password?

    "Cain?" As in "Cassandra?"