Monday, July 15, 2013

Batman #22 - A Review

When I first heard about Batman: Year Zero, I must admit a part of me rolled my eyes.  Aren't we all familiar enough with the origins of Batman by this point that we don't need to retell them anymore?  What more can possibly be said? 

Plenty, it turns out.

Scott Snyder avoids the usual traps by focusing not on Batman and the villains he fights but on Bruce Wayne before he even conceived of the idea of a Batman.  The conflict here is not between Batman and the mysterious Red Hood gang - it is between who Bruce Wayne is becoming and who Bruce Wayne should be.  This conflict is beautifully summarized by Alfred, who makes the point echoed by so many critics of the superhero genre - couldn't Bruce Wayne do more good with his fortune than through vigilante justice?  

The stylized artwork by Greg Capullo and Danny Miki remains as strong as Snyder's scripts.  Capullo has a unique sense of aesthetics and design, which is given free reign to play throughout the issue.  Perhaps the best example of this is a sequence where an ancient Eygptian board game becomes the panels for a circular conversation between Bruce Wayne and a pre-Riddler Edward Nygma.  

The back-up story, with art by American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque proves equally skilled and enjoyable.  Co-written with collaborator James Tynion IV, Snyder tells another brief tale of a young Bruce Wayne's travels around the world. This time, the young Wayne is learning the fine arts of mechanical engineering with an ex-Soviet scientist who also teaches Bruce an important lesson on the value of creative thinking.

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