General Marvel

Review: Batman #21

Batman #21 CoverWitness The New 52 origin of The Dark Knight in Batman: Zero Year which begins here in Batman #21! Twists and turns are around every corner as Bruce Wayne takes the final steps toward his destiny! DC Comics has hyped this audacious plan to spend numerous months charting the “origin” of Batman. To take such a character out of regular continuity to present a flashback story, especially for a high-profile series, is a ballsy move. Usually you’d expect this type of story in a mini-series instead. But, knowing talented Scott Snyder, there’s a method to the madness and we’ll see some sort of impact once we get back to “modern” times.

As I’d almost expect, we’re thrown directly into Bruce Wayne’s nascent war on crime. This is really before the cape and cowl while he relies on masks of a different sort instead. This “first” issue is full of surprises as we’re presented a look into this chapter of Wayne’s life we haven’t seen at this point. And there’s numerous surprises.

First thing that immediately catches you is this is a very different Gotham City. Though it is only 6 or so years ago, the city is in full squalor with subway tunnels flooded and a world that reminded me more of the infamous storyline No Man’s Land than the Gotham we’re presented with today in previous issues or other series. It reminds us though that the city of Gotham is as much of a character in the Batman mythos as anyone else.

We’re also thrown into a world with a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne. This is Bruce who has just returned from disappearing and is just beginning his war on crime. Batman doesn’t exist yet. Instead he relies on masks of a different sort and is much more raw. If Batman is a ninja, then Bruce at this time is a bull in a china shop. Some of the toys exist, but none of the finesse is there. Over the storyline, I expect we’ll see his style and tactics evolve to what we know now.

What’s more interesting is the role of “Bruce Wayne” in all of this. In modern times it’s clear that Wayne understands he can wield duel powers. As Batman he lurks in the night with brute force fighting crime, but as Bruce Wayne he wields political and economic power to shape Gotham. In the beginning of our story he hasn’t embraced that yet. In fact it’s the exact opposite, he has clearly rejected his duality. When and why does a change occur? I expect we’ll find out.

Along with Snyder’s writing is the amazing art of Greg Capullo. The two have become one of the best creative teams out there today and with each issue of Batman deliver great story and great visuals. Capullo is an amazing artist and his Batman is awe-inspiring to look at.

Along with this story with get a back-up feature that spotlights a bit on Wayne’s early years. In this case we’re given an idea on how he learned to drive the way he did with a twist. It’s a nice addition, though the art by Rafael Albuquerque, another favorite of mine, is what really makes the story.

Overall, this is a solid start in the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman, but also how he became the Bruce Wayne we know.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Greg Capullo
Backup Story: Scott Snyder and James T Tynion IV Art: Rafael Albuquerque
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review