Batman #21: The last thing comics readers need is more material looking at the years before Bruce Wayne put on a Batsuit or his first year as the Dark Knight. It’s territory that’s well-trod by some of the best creators to ever handle the character. Yet, it’s also the most tantalising time period for someone working on Batman. Adding another beat to the song that’s Bruce Wayne becoming Batman? It’s too impossible to resist. So here we are, again: Batman: Zero Year.
I rolled my eyes hard when this project was announced but I can happily say that Zero Year doubles down on the thing that I’ve enjoyed most about Scott Snyder’s run on Batman: a more relatable, emotionally accessible Batman. Though he’s still pretty closed off, Snyder’s Bruce Wayne has generally seemed like he doesn’t want to be. Take the conversations with Alfred in this opening chapter. They’re less gruff, even as Bruce is brushing off Alfred’s desire for him to try and live a more normal life.
Pulling out the lens a little bit, Much of this issue’s success comes from showing Gotham City as we haven’t seen it. Drenched in sunlight, filled with people going about their lives, the Gotham on display here doesn’t seem quite as doomed. Greg Capullo’s great art makes you can understand why Batman so desperately wants to save it. We’ll see where Year Zero goes but my interest is definitely piqued.
Superman Unchained #1: Let’s be honest: Superman’s been a mess since the New 52 started. With the exception of some moments in Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run, the continuity reboot hasn’t really added to the canon of iconic Superman sequences. Unchained is clearly a book that’s trying to do that, pairing Scott Snyder with DC head honcho and legendary artist Jim Lee. The issue tries mightily to do two things: increase the scale and spectacle of Superman’s feats and give his personal life more resonance.
Snyder, Lee and crew do a fair job on the first one, with a huge pull-out sequence in the print edition — where Superman saves a falling space station — that feels like a herculean effort. But the moments where Clark interacts with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen feel like they’re trying to hard to get us to care. I found myself flashing back to the Adventures of Superman anthology book, which isn’t as concerned as making Superman seem mythic, and that title feels more energized as a result.