Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year – Dark City (DC)
Written by Scott Snyder, drawn by Greg Capullo
Collects Batman #25-27, 29-33
I continue to fully enjoy Scott Snyder’s run on Batman for DC’s New 52 initiative. A while back I briefly talked about reading the first entry in the Zero Year story. I get that diehard Batfans don’t like how much he and artist Greg Capullo are straying from the origins laid down by Frank Miller in Year One, but I heard an interview with him somewhere where he said that he was equally freaked out by the idea, but was encouraged by editorial to blaze a bold new trail for a new universe. Thus was born Batman’s earliest adventures in a flooded Gotham City run completely by the Riddler.
While the previous volume felt a little more straightforward, I really enjoyed how Snyder played out the mystery of who Dr. Death is (and why he does what he does) while also laying down Riddler’s plans for keeping Gothamites docile. I appreciated that this story felt somewhat familiar — like No Man’s Land or Dark Knight Rises — but also blazed its own trail, kind of like a jazz solo in the middle of a standard (or maybe a familiar tune in the middle of a crazy jazz composition).
I also appreciate how Snyder disseminated the information throughout these issues, though I fully admit that they would have been lost on me had I read this book in monthly issues. All those little bits and pieces about how Dr. Death ties back to Bruce Wayne were super neat and compelling, but I doubt I’d be able to remember them over the span of eight months or so. This is why I love trades.
You also can’t talk about Batman without talking about Greg Capullo. I never read his Spawn stuff, but he just seems so perfect for Batman. I’m glad he and Snyder have been able to keep this run going together because it lends such a specific visual to this new take on Batman. They remind me of one another and pair so well that it feels like a complete thing made by two creators at the top of their game. The colors by FCO Plascencia are also off the wall in the best way possible. So bright and crazy at times and so subdued at others.
Batman Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift (DC)
Written & drawn by a lot of folks including Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo
Collects Batman #0, 18-20, 28, 34, Annual #2
While the previous five volumes of this collection all tell an increasingly c0mplex and cohesive story, Graveyard Shift brings together a variety of tales told in that time and during Batman Eternal, a weekly comic that was set in the present while “Zero Year” took us back to Batman’s earlier days. So, as you might expect, this book doesn’t have the feel of the previous one (especially because Snyder’s joined by a series of other writers and different pencilers plying their craft).
Even so, it’s impressive that this all still feels like part of the larger Gotham City Snyder and Capullo have been working on so far. In that way, it feels a bit like an anthology whereas the others are part of a sequential story. Oh, also, many of these stories take place after the much publicized death of Damian Wayne, which I haven’t read yet, but obviously knew about.
Personal highlights include Bruce Wayne testing his Batarangs in a flashback on the roof before Gordon pops up to ask him some questions, more Harper Row, Clayface drawn by Capullo, the nod to the Batman Beyond armor, Superman’s appearance, Mateo Scalera’s art and Batman’s new accomplice inside Arkham.
My only complaint about this collection comes from my weird need to know where every story actually comes from. They’re all credited as they begin, but they skip over which issues they first appeared in. That’s a pet peeve of mine (as is a trade filled with non-consecutive stories/skipping stories as they were originally published) but I still enjoyed the experience of looking at Gotham from a different angle, something I’m also experiencing in my re-through of Batman Eternal.