That title is probably going to freak a lot of you out. I am a huge Batman nerd. I talk about it a lot. And I was wondering what the hell Zero Year was going to be. It seems obvious in retrospect: we’re getting another Batman origin story.
I cannot begin to describe how utterly mind-boggling it is to me. It was the perfect origin story for a tragic hero – parents killed in front of him, goes off to train, comes back and uses family money to stop crime and help others. But, DC seems intent to continue taking ideas and just throwing them against the bat signal to see what sticks. And now, we’re getting even more ideas jammed down our throat. I’m going to be spoiling a lot here, so if you haven’t read it, but want to, go ahead and just close this page now.
For those of you who remained, thanks! Anyway, the origin of Batman is complicated enough. Now, DC is working up what is essentially a Pre-Year One account of Bruce Wayne. Set in the ever fluctuating timeline of the New 52 DC era (which has been the most confusing thing ever), Zero Year begins “Six years ago” where a sleeveless Batman on a motorcycle saves a kid. After a brief exchange, we’re suddenly five months before that. For those of you who do not have an abacus, we are now six years and five months in Batman’s past.
Suddenly, Bruce Wayne is wearing a torn latex ginger mask and flipping off the Red Hood. No, not the person, the gang. And it’s led by someone with a personality that easily matches the Joker’s (I hope I’m wrong because, Jesus, I don’t want two origin stories in one arc, especially his). Anyway, so there is this back and forth between Alfred and Bruce, the former trying to convince the latter he’s stupid and also to stop being legally dead. Because Bruce was declared dead after he left the city (Hi, Nolan). He is then met by his uncle (on his mom’s side) who essentially says he’s been stalking Alfred to find Bruce. The uncle wants Bruce to come back to life (legally) and take over Wayne Enterprises. Bruce says no.
The whole, overarching theme of this issue is “WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE CITY, BRUCE?” which is an actual thing that appears a lot on one of the pages.
What does he love about the city? He can be anyone, of course! He explains that to his dad in a flashback (there are a lot of those, but then again, this whole arc seems to be a flashback within a flashback) and then Thomas is called off to the hospital.
At the end of the issue, the uncle is talking to a mysterious person who was apparently hired on as a consultant. If you thought two origin stories in one arc was annoying, check this out: that mysterious man is Edward Nygma (AKA THE RIDDLER LATER SPOILER ALERT) and he says that the uncle must kill the nephew. You know, Bruce Wayne.
This is where DC is going: We’re going to get an origin retelling of Batman, the Joker and the Riddler. Knowing DC’s Go Big Or Go Home And Ignore Your Confusing Failures policy, I can assume we’ll see origins for Two-Face, Penguin, Clayface, Scarecrow and the rest. We are one issue in and I am really, really confused. I am also agitated. I don’t want another origin story. I want to continue to see Bruce battling his issues over losing his son, Damien, and I want to watch him try to make things right with the rest of the Bat Family. But, instead, DC interrupts all that loveliness with an origin story. Or multiple origin stories. I can’t tell yet.