BATMAN VOL. 4: ZERO YEAR – SECRET CITY
Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Art by Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: May 7, 2014
Snyder and Capullo are brilliant storytellers. We all know this by now, but with Zero Year they are changing the status quo, diving back to the start of the Batman, and the early days of Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham. This volume features excellent character analysis, and I include Gotham as a character in that statement. The city itself is different than present day, post-Bat Gotham, and it is fascinating to read about a Bat-less Gotham. Snyder deftly crafts the tale of a city overrun by the Red Hood Gang, an almost Hydra-like gang that is infiltrating every aspect of the power base of the city. Snyder gives readers a Bruce Wayne who is learning, which is fun to read when we are so used to see Batman in control at all times. This is not a Batman comic at all, really, it is a Bruce Wayne tale. We’re in on the ground floor, and Snyder writes the dialogue of these characters, in their younger days, very well. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce is forming, and this young wannabe hero is challenged by two very formidable villains. The Red Hood is a dynamic villain, the perfect foe for Bruce to earn his wings against. Edward Nygma is maniacal, his insane charm bringing ever panel he’s in a dynamic energy. This volume of Batman feels as though it is building the base for the character for years to come, and Snyder’s storytelling abilities have never been stronger.
Greg Capullo is Scott Snyder’s partner in crime, and there are few partnerships in comics quite like this one. One of the most successful creative pairings since the New 52 relaunch, Snyder & Capullo’s storytelling grows stronger by the issue. Capullo’s artwork highlights the emotions of characters brilliantly, adding elements to the story that the dialogue never could. The body language of characters sheds light on who they are, with young Bruce and Alfred’s dynamic very different than the one we know now. Capullo’s take on The Riddler, and The Red Hood, for that matter, is so masterfully executed that it feels like the modern take on these villains. He is defining these characters in the New 52, and he is doing a damn good job with it. His style is unique, and unlike any other artist in the DC stable, making this Batman story look and feel very special. This is a run for the ages, and Capullo has elevated himself into the upper echelons of artists to have ever drawn the Bat.
James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque deliver strong backup stories in this volume, with details that strengthen the story being told in this volume and plant seeds for events occurring in Batman Eternal. These backups are more than just filler, built with care and attention by the creative forces that are all throwing serious heat in this collection. There isn’t a creator in this volume that drops the ball, and Batman has never been stronger.
This volume of Batman is a must read, plain and simple. This is career defining work by two of the best creators in comics, working on the most iconic character of them all. Do Batman a solid for his 75th and give this a read…you’ll be happy you did.
The Verdict: 10/10