Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo/Danny Miki/FCO Plascencia
Ah yes, the revamped origin story. :: adjusts monocle, clears throat :: A risky venture, especially when a character like Batman already has a good one in “Year One” and an extremely terrible one in “Earth One”. And dedicating an entire year to tell said origin risks decompression/being drawn out.
That being said, the homies Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo aren’t in the business of telling bad Batman stories. Arguably the best book to come out of the New 52, Snyder and Capullo have been on a hot streak with this title, telling new types of stories that appeal to old and new readers alike, which incredible visuals and spectacular set pieces. What Synder and Capullo set out to do is bold -revamp Batman for a new generation of readers, while celebrating the character’s rich history.
I’m not kidding when I say this book covers the characters 75 years of existence. There’s nods from everything from the Bill Finger and real life super villain (shout out to Chris Sims) Bob Kane golden age material, to things like Batman ’66, Batman ’89 and The Killing Joke. Some of the references are only visual Easter eggs, while some other elements are woven into the narrative. But it’s done insanely well, which is the important thing.
The Secret City arc (aka Volume 1) covers young Bruce Wayne, fresh from his training all around the world/Liam Neelson, and his one man war with the Red Hood Gang. It’s a different Bruce we’re used to, as this Bruce is a brash jerk what yells at Alfred, and gets a John Cena-style haircut. We’re also introduced to Bruce’s Uncle Philip and his assistant, who may or may not end up being a major Bat-Villain (spoilers: He totally does). And most importantly, this whole thing starts off which Batman with a crossbow on a dirt bike, which is easily in the top 5 coolest things I’ve seen in comics this year.
By now you can probably tell I’m a fan of this story. Which in my defense, anyone who reads it should be, because it’s great. While it definitely pays some respect to the Chris Nolan “Batman Begins” film, it’s very much the opposite as well: loud, vibrant and explosive. With the aforementioned cameos, along with some incredibly well crafted action pieces, Synder, Capullo, inker Danny Miki and colorist FCO Plascencia take full advantage of the genre. The story fully embraces the fact that it’s a comic book and doesn’t have to worry about things like budget and what not.
And again, the coloring. I’ve been a fan of FCO Plascencia‘s work when I first discovered his work on Invincible and it’s nice to see him working on such a popular and beloved character like Batman. Unlike Year One, Year Zero uses brighter colors like yellow, orange, red and purple. The introduction pages use some really sharp green and blue for the environments and it’s really breathtaking.
It’s also worth noting that Greg Capullo and Scott Synder aren’t the only artist/writer team attached to this collection. Working with Synder, writer James Tynion IV and artist Rafael Albuquerque (Snyder’s collaborator on American Vampire) tell stories set in young Bruce’s training days, as well as the set up for the next arc. They’re all solid stories, and Albuquerque’s art is perfect for Batman.
As someone’s who’s not the biggest Batman fan, I really liked this opening arc. It’s a fun over the top Batman story that actually does a lot of things different for a Batman Origin story. It’s not afraid to try something new, which is more or less the point of the New 52 (At least in my opinion). If you have any interest in Batman or DC Comics, I can’t recommend it enough.