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DC Comics: Zero Year by Scott Snyder

DC Comics: Zero Year

by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo (Illustrator), John Layman (Author), Danny Miki (Illustrator), James Tynion (Author)

Other authors: Rafael Albuquerque (Illustrator), Marc Andreyko (Contributor), Marguerite Bennett (Contributor), Brian Buccellato (Contributor), Juan Castro (Illustrator)42 more, Keith Champagne (Illustrator), Vicente Cifuentes (Illustrator), Andy Clarke (Illustrator), Will Conrad (Illustrator), Denys Cowan (Illustrator), Victor Drujiniu (Illustrator), Jason Fabok (Illustrator), Jim Fern (Illustrator), Ivan Fernandez (Illustrator), Júlio Ferreira (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator), Justin Gray (Contributor), Jeremy Haun (Illustrator), Kyle Higgins (Contributor), Allan Jefferson (Illustrator), Van Jensen (Contributor), Aaron Kuder (Illustrator), Rob Lean (Illustrator), Jay Leisten (Illustrator), Jeff Lemire (Contributor), Aaron Lopresti (Illustrator), Francis Manapul (Contributor), Christy Marx (Contributor), Trevor McCarthy (Illustrator), Scott McDaniel (Illustrator), Romano Molenaar (Illustrator), Travis Moore (Illustrator), Andrea Mutti (Illustrator), Tom Nguyen (Illustrator), Pat Olliffe (Illustrator), Greg Pak (Contributor), Jimmy Palmiotti (Contributor), Eduardo Pansica (Illustrator), Fernando Pasarin (Illustrator), Cliff Richards (Illustrator), Daniel Sampere (Illustrator), Bill Sienkiewicz (Illustrator), Andrea Sorrentino (Illustrator), Chris Sprouse (Illustrator), Karl Story (Illustrator), Art Thibert (Illustrator), Robert Venditti (Contributor)

Series: New 52, Batman, Batman: New 52 (24-25), Batgirl: New 52 (25), Batwing: New 52 (25), Batwoman: New 52 (25), Birds of Prey: New 52 (25), Catwoman: New 52 (25), Detective Comics: New 52 (25), The Flash: New 52 (25), Green Arrow: New 52 (25), Green Lantern Corps: New 52 (25), Nightwing: New 52 (25), Red Hood and the Outlaws: New 52 (25), Batman: Zero Year (companion)

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Access a version of the below that includes illustrations on my blog.

This book gives snapshots of the early lives of a number of superheroes, framed by two parts of a Batman origin story. Someday I will read the full Batman: Zero Year story, but I liked what I got of it here. The book opens with Bruce Wayne as Batman taking down the Red Hood Gang, in what seems to be one of his first real superheroic actions. It's hard to judge the writing, since I only have a snippet of the story, but I really enjoyed Greg Capullo's art and Fco Plascencia's colors. This is a moody Gotham, but in a very different way to that of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. This is a harsh, dynamic, neon Gotham-- a purifying crucible for the weird. The story ends with a little epilogue that introduces the idea that a giant storm is about to hit Gotham... and some fellow calling himself the Riddler has deactivated the electrical grid.

This provides the setup for the stories that follow, as various young heroes who either live in Gotham or come to render aid to Gotham each has their own experiences during the hurricane. I think there are about twenty-five different stories, and as you might imagine, that results in quite a range of quality, andI don't think I could point to any I found outright terrible, though many are somewhat generic, which is perhaps worse.

I'll focus on the positive here. The best stories were the ones that approached the storm as a testing ground or a crucible, a horrific event that allowed the hero in question to demonstrate who they really were deep down. The very best was, unfortunately, the first of these, a story of Superman. Eager to prove he can do something other than smack on criminals well below his weight class, young Clark Kent flies to Gotham to battle nature itself, and learns that there are limits even to his own power, as much as he still attempts to be the best person he can possibly be. It's a dynamic, involving story: Aaron Kuder does surprisingly good action sequences, and Greg Pak really captures Clark.

I also really enjoyed the story of young Barbara Gordon. With her dad having to do police stuff, Barbara is left at home to protect her brother-- but when their apartment gets evacuated, this turns out to be harder than she thought. There's no big moment where she decides she's going to be a superhero one day; it's simply Barbara deciding to stand up for what she believes in and protect her fellow human beings because it's impossible for her to imagine doing anything else. It's a well-drawn, well-scripted story of how we find who we are during the darkest of times. Literally!

There's also a James Gordon story. It's a little too focused on cop corruption, and not very focused on the storm, but it has its moments, and some of them are great. But then, I always like a little bit of James Gordon. The Kate Kane (the future Batwoman) story isn't very complicated, but it is a good depiction of two women finding their way toward heroism.

The ones I found less effective were either the ones that seemed to contrive the situation to make this moment significant in the life of its hero, or the ones where the fact that there was a giant storm came across as nothing more than incidental set dressing. An example would be the Flash tale: though it makes sense for policewoman Maggie Sawyer from nearby Metropolis to be deployed in Gotham to help out, or for Marine John Stewart to be sent in to help evacuate, it stretched my belief that that an unpowered forensic scientist would be sent to Gotham all the way from Missouri or Ohio (or wherever Central City is), and I sort of rolled my eyes when it turns out that this is when Barry meets Iris West for the first time. Plus the story is all about a weird drug, and very little about the city's crisis. Not that it's a bad story, and given that it's partially drawn by Francis Manapul, it certainly looks good, but it didn't take advantage of the setting in a compelling way.

I didn't care for a significant part of Green Arrow's backstory happening to occur in this place at this time, but Andrea Sorrentino's amazing artwork almost makes me want to pick up the Green Arrow comic book again. The backup tale from the same issue shouldn't have been included here, though, as it has nothing to do with the Zero Year story beyond taking place "in the past."

What's weird about the book is how it ends, with another chapter of Snyder and Capullo's Batman story... but one that clearly takes place before the two dozen stories you've just read, as the storm hasn't hit yet! But it ends with Batman being abducted, so it's unclear to me how it lines up with Batman's cameos through Zero Year (he appears in the Jim Gordon, Green Arrow, and Batwing stories, for example). Maybe this is explained in the next issue, but if so, why wasn't it included here, and why weren't these tales put in order?

Overall, though, this is a surprisingly effective glimpse at a formative time in the new new new DC universe.

DC Comics Crises: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
  Stevil2001 | Jan 29, 2017 |
A new start point for a variety of characters in the DC universe & in particular, the Batman Mythos. An interesting, yet not entirely convincing start to the majority of those mentioned in this anthology of stories, set as a super storm is about to hit Gotham & it's immediate aftermath. Some work well, & I'm thinking if the Comissioner Gordon & Green Arrow storylines here. Some aren't so good, like the Batwoman, & Red Hood & Nightwing storylines. Some of the art is excellent, some poor, but the majority above average. The whole thing can be read quickly as I did, or could be read in more episodic chunks. There seems to a fad these days for more realistic streetwise heroes, & this certainly plays to this. For some of these heroes, that works. For others it doesn't. However, overall though, worth a look. ( )
  aadyer | Jan 11, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Scott Snyderprimary authorall editionscalculated
Capullo, GregIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Layman, JohnAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Miki, DannyIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Tynion, JamesAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Albuquerque, RafaelIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andreyko, MarcContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bennett, MargueriteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buccellato, BrianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castro, JuanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Champagne, KeithIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cifuentes, VicenteIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clarke, AndyIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Conrad, WillIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cowan, DenysIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drujiniu, VictorIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fabok, JasonIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fern, JimIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fernandez, IvanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferreira, JúlioIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glapion, JonathanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gray, JustinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haun, JeremyIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Higgins, KyleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jefferson, AllanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jensen, VanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kuder, AaronIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lean, RobIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leisten, JayIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lemire, JeffContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lopresti, AaronIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Manapul, FrancisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marx, ChristyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCarthy, TrevorIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDaniel, ScottIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Molenaar, RomanoIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, TravisIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mutti, AndreaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nguyen, TomIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Olliffe, PatIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pak, GregContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Palmiotti, JimmyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pansica, EduardoIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pasarin, FernandoIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Richards, CliffIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sampere, DanielIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sienkiewicz, BillIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sorrentino, AndreaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sprouse, ChrisIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Story, KarlIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thibert, ArtIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Venditti, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140124937X, Hardcover)

Six years ago, the legend of Batman emerged amid the greatest catastrophe Gotham had ever endured. A maniac calling himself The Riddler shut down all electric power mere days before a terrifying superstorm. But the Dark Knight isn't the only hero to surface during this moment in time known only as the ZERO YEAR!

Journey back to the Zero Year to see the early tales of heroes and heroines such as Nightwing, Green Arrow, Batgirl, Superman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman and more!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:55 -0400)

"Six years ago, the legend of Batman emerged amid the greatest catastrophe Gotham had ever endured. A maniac calling himself The Riddler shut down all electric power mere days before a terrifying superstorm. But the Dark Knight isn't the only hero to surface during this moment in time known only as the ZERO YEAR! Journey back to the Zero Year to see the early tales of heroes and heroines such as Nightwing, Green Arrow, Batgirl, Superman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman and more!"--… (more)

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