Batman #21 was the beginning of Scott Snyder’s next storyline in Batman, “Zero Year.” I guess he didn’t want to write a Year One story of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. So, he wrote a story that takes place before that. Before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. In which Bruce Wayne is already Batman. I’ll give you a moment. Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to me either, but I’ll deal. It’s only a title.
The issue starts 6 years ago, showing a kid catching a fish from a very flooded subway entrance. The kid is attacked by masked men, but is saved by Batman. The kid is very surprised to see Batman, because he thought “He” killed him. Batman is fine with people believing this, cause then “He” won’t see him coming. I want to pause here, a few pages in and make sure you noticed a line. Yes, the kid caught a fish from a flooded subway entrance. We’re talking about flooded all the way up to street level. And Gotham looks incredibly overgrown. Like, New York in I Am Legend overgrown. It’s kind of silly. But moving on.
We’re next taken to 5 months before that. So, we’re now 6 years and 5 months ago. Bruce Wayne is in disguise, and running from the Red Hood Gang (see issue #0). Even cornered in a box truck, Bruce is able to make a daring, and ill-advised escape. Back at…well, it’s not a cave. We’ll just call it headquarters. Back at his headquarters, Bruce and Alfred discuss not only the Red Hood gang, but also Bruce’s decision to stay legally dead. You see, he had disappeared for several years, and had been declared dead by his uncle (mother’s brother). Speaking of which, he (Phillip) had just happening to follow Alfred, and sees him with Bruce.
Phillip wants Bruce to return to the land of the legally living, and claim his rightful place as the head of Wayne Enterprises. However, Bruce tells him that he’s not interested, and has other reasons for being back in Gotham. Afterwards, Phillip meets with Edward Nygma, who tells Phillip that to ultimately reach their goals, they’re going to have kill Bruce Wayne.
For some reason, Snyder seems to be really interested in expanding the history of Gotham City. First, there was the Gates of Gotham mini-series. Then, there was the entire Court of Owls storyline. Now, he’s decided to give us an extended origin story. Will he stick with tradition and have the Joker be one of the Red Hood gang? I don’t know. But that’s not what I am looking forward to with the rest of this storyline. I’m more interested in what is likely to be the Riddler origin story.
We all know the most widely believed origin of the Joker. It’s not really going to add anything to the character to re-tell the same story once again. However, the Riddler’s origin isn’t as widely known. Hell, I can’t remember what the official version of it was pre-New 52. So that’s the story that I’m looking forward to. I’ll get more into critiquing the story once we see where exactly it is heading. If you’ve liked Batman so far, then there’s no reason you won’t like this issue.