The Dark Knight reborn in Issue 24
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 00:10
After months of hype and speculation, the first issue of the “Batman: Zero Year” story arc has officially begun. Considering that this represents DC Comics’ first major attempt to rework the Dark Knight’s iconic origin story since Frank Miller’s landmark graphic novel, 1987s “Batman: Year One,” the creative team behind “Zero Year” has some understandably high expectations to live up to.
The first part of this new chapter in the “Batman” mythos is titled “Dark City,” of which Issue 24 consists of part one.
Showing a 25-year-old Bruce Wayne, shortly after becoming Batman, Issue 24 packs a huge amount of backstory into a single issue. The story follows Batman’s efforts to stop Gotham’s notorious “ Red Hood Gang”. Following a somewhat slow-paced intro to the comic, we see Batman have some of his earliest encounters with Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham City Police, and what can now be assumed as the canonical first appearances of both the criminal who will one day be known as the Joker and Edward Nygma, a.k.a. The Riddler.
The comic gets off to a bit of a slow start, but after the pace picks up the issue is full of action-packed, nostalgia-inducing scenes expertly balanced with quieter moments providing character exposure.
For those not in the know, the DC Comics’ universe had its continuity somewhat rebooted a few years back, re-launching new volumes of all their major titles under this new timeline. Issue 24 does such a fantastic job of re-introducing audiences to Batman, its somewhat puzzling as to why DC waited over two years to re tell the character’s origin story.
While not destined to be a literary masterpiece, this first piece of the “Zero Year” storyline manages to cover a lot of ground in the span of a single issue, without feeling rushed or condensed. The issue is enormously respectful of Batman’s established character history and ends up retreading a lot of previously covered ground. Notably, only the Joker’s origin has been significantly altered. No longer a tragic victim of circumstance, Issue 24 firmly establishes the character as a criminal from the get-go.
Writer Scott Snyder shows his strength in soliloquies delivered by Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth, which establish the underlying sense of optimism in the face of darkness that drives Batman’s mission.
The art in the issue is a refreshing change. Often, drawings appear “rough” and “unpolished” but rather than serve as a distraction for readers, they appear unique and have a sense of “age” that isn’t often found in the perfectly polished comics of today. That said, sometimes drawings of characters appear “off model” in comparison to their depictions in the rest of the issue, providing an irritating, minor distraction.
In the end, Issue 24 of “Batman” doesn’t tread much new ground, but rather gives readers a fresh look at an iconic character’s origin. Despite a few minor hiccups, the issue stands as a great success and a great starting point for new readers to jump into the “Batman” mythos.