Pretty much everyone knows Batman's origin. As a child, his parents were gunned down in front of him. He vowed vengeance against the criminals of the world and spent years training to become Batman. That may be the case but Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (along with James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque) show us we don't have all the facts.
BATMAN #21 is set to go back six years ago, one year prior to the birth of heroes in the New 52 Universe. This is an opportunity to find out what happened before Bruce Wayne became Batman and how that came about.
This remarkable issue is one Bat-fans can't afford to miss out on. This is establishing the new history of the Dark Knight and what Snyder is setting up is shaping up to be pretty epic. There will be some spoilers for BATMAN #21. We won't spoil everything so you really need to make sure to check it out.
Gotham City is Ravaged
What a way to start a new arc. As soon as you open the comic, the very first page catches you off guard. Something bad is headed Gotham's way and seeing how this happened and how the city manages to overcome this trial is reason enough to read the story.
We don't see right away what was the cause of this catastrophe. It's more than just a flooding of the city as we even see buildings have been ravaged. It's a pretty big set back for the city and will take a miracle to set things right by the time JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 is supposed to take place.
Bruce Wayne Started His War Before Becoming Batman
We know in BATMAN #0 Bruce Wayne had infiltrated the Red Hood Gang. He still apparently hasn't become "Batman" but was already up against the gang. He was wearing a mask, only not the Bat-cowl, but it was a mask to disguise his appearance.
In his encounter with the Gang, we see he's a little more reckless. He's less calculating and more likely to take risks, including putting others at some risk. He hasn't quite developed the respectful relationship that he has with Alfred and is even willing to make rude gestures in public.
The Leader of the Red Hood Gang is Unknown
We've seen the Red Hood Gang before and also in issue #0. We find out what Bruce has uncovered about them. It seems no one in the gang knows the identity of the leader. He always keeps his mask on and members of the gang are unaware of each others' identities as well. Bruce was able to figure out that the members aren't actual criminals but instead middle and upper class men and woman. It seems they've been coerced or blackmailed into wearing a mask and joining. It's possible the leader of the Gang has a huge collection of "sleeper agents" he can fall forth at anytime.
Bruce Wayne Was Ready to Give up Being Bruce
During Bruce's travels, no one really knew where he was. Bruce's Uncle Philip tried keeping tabs on him but had him legally declared dead. This was actually fine with Bruce as he prefers the lack of ties to pursue his guerrilla warfare tactics. To him, 'Bruce Wayne' was simply a distraction. Bruce wanted to devote his entire time to his fight against crime. He didn't want to have to put on an act or come up with cover stories for his normal life.
Philip Kane and the Kane Family Scandal
Who is Uncle Philip?
We find out that Philip Kane was Martha Wayne's brother. Bruce barely knew him and mentions only going to the Museum of Natural History once the week after his parents died. Kane has been running Wayne Enterprises and merged Kane Chemical into the company. They are doing research and have become a "leader in protective technology." Bruce makes it clear he doesn't want anything to do with the company.
Philip mentions that Martha knew he'd make a terrible father to Bruce. The reason Philip had Bruce declared legally dead was so he could build up the company and Wayne legacy. Apparently the Kane family is not seen too favorably in Gotham. They have had their "share of scandal and controversy." Philip believes that because of the Wayne popularity, it would be great for the company to have a Wayne back at the top of the company.
Developing protective weapons will be the least of Bruce's concerns when you find out who Philip is working with and is considering doing (I told you we weren't going to spoil everything!). You'll have to read the issue to find out about that as well as get a glimpse into Bruce's childhood and a 'lesson' he had while he was away. Zero Year is just beginning and it looks like we're just started to see the complete picture.