Friday, January 13, 2017

BATMAN: ZERO YEAR - SECRET CITY by Scott Snyder

This year I wanted to jump back into reading about some of the superheroes that I loved when I was a kid, one of my favorites being Batman. Cause he's awesome. At first I was totally confused with where to jump in again, because there are so many damn comics. But after some research, I ultimately decided on reading the books from DC's New 52 relaunch as well as their recent relaunch, Rebirth. And the New 52 books had a well-received origin story arc so I decided to start there. Why not, right?

Most people with even a very pedestrian understanding of the Batman character from the comics, shows, or movies are familiar with the origin of Batman, and it's been revisited many times over. Frank Miller's great Batman: Year One is considered the definitive classic book on his origin. But, here, I like the fact that Scott Snyder decided play with it a bit, not rehash Bruce's family's murder, and start at the point when Bruce is back from his experiences learning overseas and is already awkwardly trying his hand at vigilantism in Gotham fighting the Red Hood Gang. He hasn't yet become Batman. And I like that, unlike Miller, Snyder barely focuses attention on Jim Gordon, which made Miller's Year One book less of a Batman origin to me.


I love Snyder's idea of showing Bruce using a variety of human costume masks while first trying to fight crime. I thought that was a cool visual idea and a believable disguise before Bruce decides that he needs something more effective. And while I do prefer my Batman stories dark and brooding, I appreciated that the book tried something else and went in a different route with the artwork, leaning towards a more colorful look that seemed closer to the animated shows and animated movies. And there are some really snazzy short extra tales at the end that provide some greater insight into what Bruce was doing in his world travels that led to his skills as Batman. I actually really wish that Snyder focused a bit more on that.

Snyder took his cue from a variety of other iterations of Batman stories like The Killing Joke in his depiction of the Red Hood Gang and the fact that the man that would become the Joker was under the mask at some point. But I loved the fact that he made it even more interesting by making it more ambiguous. Snyder combines standard ideas from early stories and puts his own stamp on Batman's first time in Gotham.


GRADE: B+

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