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Five Developments from BATMAN #21 - Zero Year

You may think you know the whole story of how Batman got started but this issue offers some big surprises.

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.

What Else?

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.

49 Comments
Posted by InnerVenom123

The Leader of the Red Hood Gang is Unknown

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure he is.

Edited by inferiorego

The idea that Bruce wanted Bruce dead and buried was my favorite moment of the issue

Staff
Edited by AmazingWebHead

Philip Kane? Could they possibly make a more obvious reference? (Not that I'm complaining)

The Leader of the Red Hood Gang is Unknown

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure he is.

He's the most likely suspect.

Posted by bobbyaddams

@amazingwebhead: What are you talking about? Bruce's mom has always been named Martha Kane.

Posted by lightsout

Haven't read it quite yet (& just scrolled past the article), but "you may think you know..." - I think this is a duh/not-needed statement, in that of course we wouldn't know - it's a reboot. Granted Batman was not rebooted in the way most of the titles were, but the new 52 is still an opportunity for writes to throw w/e the hell they want into continuity (Tim never being "just" Robin, Joker having a hand in Jason's pre-Batman life, etc etc). So of course anything we find out in Batman 21 is new to everyone because his origin is being re-introduced by a new team of writers. Also, I would say since I don't have a lot of respect for the N52 in general (& many others feel the same way), I would say "yes, I do know Batman's origin" because whatever changes/tweaks I find in this issue I'll likely take with a grain of salt.

Posted by G-Man

Philip Kane? Could they possibly make a more obvious reference? (Not that I'm complaining)

What do you mean? The character and the fact that Martha's maiden name is Kane is old news.

Staff
Posted by RedK

awesome issue, really wana see him incorporate those boots he was testing into his suit, or his fighting style and the hats with the R were a nice touch

Posted by Kangaxx_54

This one seem too interesting to wait out. I've always wanted to read more of the early years. And it's out now! I thought it would be a while yet before it came out (I usually only buy trades).

Edited by doombot890

@amazingwebhead: i think it was proven that he was the red hood in new 52 in one of err red hood's (jason todd) flashbacks. you know the one where it basically says that joker had been a fundamental part in jason becoming robin..and red hood.

Posted by TheeOmegaGhost

@innervenom123 said:

The Leader of the Red Hood Gang is Unknown

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure he is.

Idk they could pull a new 52 twist to red hood gang's leader.....

Edited by StMichalofWilson

I wasn't sure I would be interested until the end with Riddler. I'm not going to spoil it! Still it will be interesting to learn how it this story arc ties in to the origins of Riddler and the Joker. Maybe even feature appearances from other classic characters.

Posted by Gotham331

Can't wait to read it

Edited by The Stegman

Bruce flipping someone off was priceless.

Posted by fallbrigade

It'd be pretty great, in my opinion, if Snyder was able to add in a nod to TAS and Mask of the Phantasm and add Andrea Beaumont for a future Phantasm appearance or story! That'd really make my day.

Posted by ScarletBatman

@amazingwebhead: i think it was proven that he was the red hood in new 52 in one of err red hood's (jason todd) flashbacks. you know the one where it basically says that joker had been a fundamental part in jason becoming robin..and red hood.

Not to mention the stunt that the Joker pulled off with Harley in the Batman Comic (i.e. sticking the red hood helmet on her).

Still, it doesn't mean the Joker was the first Red Hood.

Posted by FastestBlender

I agree with @lightsout. The only reason to read this story is to be entertained, not to find some lost details of the definitive Bruce Wayne Origin. I just read Batman Earth One, why can't that be the new definitive origin? The way the new52 is headed, this stuff will be out the window in 5-10 years, not 15-20. The stuff that remains are the big beats (parents murdered in alley, trained body/mind to peak condition, ect.)

Edited by blkson

The beginning of this issue looked as if Gotham had a hurricane. Kinda had a post hurricane Katrina/Sandy feel.

Maybe the hurricane is why the city is so violent. The hurricane displaced a lot of people, so a lot folk have to resort to stealing and crime, just to make a living. I'm really interested to know what actually happened to ravish Gotham like that.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

I thought the issue was Good. Noting amazing. I am guessing it's gonna get real good. That's how Snyder does it.

Edited by FoxxFireArt

Bat-fans can afford to miss this. BATMAN: YEAR ONE is the definitive story to me. The Year Zero is just an attempt to replace Year One due to the altered time line and the "5 year" mistake. Just the concept that all the Earth's heroes popped up at once is laughable. I don't understand the desire to have all the heroes being in the late 20s early 30s range.

Was that Censored bar in the comics or added for the article? I ask, becasue there was so censorship on the scene of Catwoman being shot in the head image in the previous article. That's far more graphic.

Posted by Trodorne

@g_man: You could assume in the part where Gotham was ravaged. that 6 years ago the events of No Mans Land could have happened where an earthquake could have hit gotham and the rebuilding was underway.

Edited by blkson

@foxxfireart said:

Bat-fans can afford to miss this. BATMAN: YEAR ONE is the difinative story to me. The Year Zero is just an attempt to replace Year One due to the altered time line and the "5 year" mistake. Just the concept that all the Earth's heroes popped up at once is laughable. I don't understand the desire to have all the heroes being in the late 20s early 30s range.

Was that Censored bar in the comics or added for the article? There was so censorship on the scene of Catwoman being shot in the head image in the previous article. That's far more graphic.

Even though ALL of this is true (especially the part in bold)...I'm still gonna read it :)

To answer your question, yeap apparently flipping the bird should be censored and not the violently supposed death of a woman with blood splattered everywhere. Stay classy DC.

Posted by ravisher

some of that stuff isnt new

been done in earlier batman comics

Posted by FoxxFireArt

@blkson:

I'm not trying to make some case that people shouldn't read this is they enjoy Snyder's work. It just shouldn't be looked upon as a replacement for YEAR ONE. It's little more than an attempt to try and fit an origin and a lot of history into an impossibly small period of time.

Putting censor bars in comedy is funny, becasue it leaves things to the imagination. Using it to block something in a drama is idiotic. It diverts you from the moment and undermines the meaning of the scene. If the editors didn't want that, then they should have had the panel removed or changed completely. That panel right there is yet another reason why you can't take this seriously as an origin story. This is a comic that's trying very hard not to take too many risks.

I don't even understand why Bruce would be so reckless and arrogant 'after' his world travel and training.

Posted by MrShway88

The Leader of the Red Hood Gang is Unknown

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure he is.

You don't know how much that made me laugh.

Edited by wade_wilson22
Posted by DanteTheRedKnight

I liked it! I'd give it a 4.5/5. It was better than Superman Unchained which I gave a 4.

Edited by tupiaz

@blkson:

I'm not trying to make some case that people shouldn't read this is they enjoy Snyder's work. It just shouldn't be looked upon as a replacement for YEAR ONE. It's little more than an attempt to try and fit an origin and a lot of history into an impossibly small period of time.

Putting censor bars in comedy is funny, becasue it leaves things to the imagination. Using it to block something in a drama is idiotic. It diverts you from the moment and undermines the meaning of the scene. If the editors didn't want that, then they should have had the panel removed or changed completely. That panel right there is yet another reason why you can't take this seriously as an origin story. This is a comic that's trying very hard not to take too many risks.

I don't even understand why Bruce would be so reckless and arrogant 'after' his world travel and training.

The panel that is censured seems to be the middle finger. I bet it is done by either comicvine or DC press release and it is not so in the comic. The reason is oblivious not to get parents angry. What I don't like is the whole beginning with 6 years ago. Why don't just tell the story in stead of all this 6 years ago crap. unless it fastforward to the currrent time it doesn't make sense. The should just tell the story without making any reference to the future present. If I want to read Year Zero and then year one and go forward in time like that, the six years ago reference doesn't make sense. Don't understand why DC is pushing so hard with this five year time line. A lie don't become more true just because you keep telling it.

Posted by Sleepbutnodream15

Development #6: Batman rides a dirtbike.

Posted by TakeLuutzen

Did anyone read the Director's Cut edition?
Are there any differences from that issue compared to the normal one?

Posted by Dark_Vengeance_
Posted by Batman404

In order for Bruce to do what he was doing while he was away he'd need a lot of money. Wouldn't his uncle and Alfred notice he was using Wayne funds therefor know that he was alive? They may not be able to track him all the time but they'd know he was syphoning money from the family accounts.

Posted by Mrgreenlantern

@blkson: when the actual scene of flipping somone off is added thats plain as day saying Fuck You! now how would you feel if your 8 or 9 year old came in flipping you off?

Edited by The_Vein

@foxxfireart: The giant censored bar was funny. Dramatic stories can have funny parts in them. Stop being so critical.

Posted by blkson

@blkson: when the actual scene of flipping somone off is added thats plain as day saying Fuck You! now how would you feel if your 8 or 9 year old came in flipping you off?

What are you talking about? My response was sarcastic in nature. I'm not sure if you're agreeing with what I said or not. I'm confused.

Posted by weenman1

Ugh....more Snyder. Can't wait for the new 52 to crash and burn. They should bring in some new ideas like adding Angela the Violator! Better yet they should boot Snyder and give the writing to Brandon Graham with art by R. Grampa.

Posted by fragmentmind

I would have accepted this story more if it were written 10 years in the past. It would be awful for fans of the robins, but DC - if they're going to push the effort with the Nu52 - needs to erase the robins. What I mean is, make them influenced by Batman and not have been raised. It'd make so much more sense that way.

Edited by The_jackolantern

That is a funny panel with the censored bar.its to show that batman was more reckless back then. Stop by dicks about we panel.no wonder people hate comic book fans

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

LEader of the Red Hood Gang? Joker of course! Has to be! Other great revelations from this storyline, especially the panels showing a ravaged Gotham.

Edited by NightFang

I'm hooked all over again!

Edited by thebluedragon07

@innervenom123: Hmm I just recalled something, if any of you have read The Killing Joke you'll find out that there was two Red Hoods, I'm suspecting that this Red Hood was the original leader, and that something happen to him, before some of the gang members approach "Jack Napier" (a possible alias for the Joker before he became the Joker) to be used as a scapegoat to target instead.

Posted by TakeLuutzen

@darkknightdetective: I think i'd read somewhere that Snyder and Capullo said that there would be a director's cut.

Posted by SavageDragon

That is a funny panel with the censored bar.its to show that batman was more reckless back then. Stop by dicks about we panel.no wonder people hate comic book fans

Is that supposed to make sense?

Posted by XXkaeselXY

I don't think the city got hit by a hurricane, I think it got hit by the Joker blowing up the dam.

Edited by John Valentine

Best issue of Batman in months!

Posted by Durakken

Yay Snyder can't keep his own timeline correct.

Bruce left Gotham 4 years ago from the 6yr ago setting yet Phillip was looking for Bruce 7 years ago v.v Also this issue takes place after issue #0 which has Bruce already known to be back and alive yet this one says that Bruce is "dead" and hiding still.

If you can't even keep the basic timeline straight you shouldn't be writing something that is supposed to establish time line stuff.

Posted by zarrarzeez

@durakken: I heard it's supposedly going to go back 5 more years... so 11 years total. I hope there is a fix to the timeline issues that are being shown right now

Edited by Durakken

@zarrarzeez: Bruce left Gotham 10 years ago from 2011 and is used as the reference point (though currently it would be 2 years after 2011 in the comics now). He came back and became Batman 6 years ago which is when year 0 takes place. That is both issue 0 and issue 21 explicitly states it is 6 years ago and all supporting evidence from other comics say it is 6 years ago. Issue 0 explicitly states that Bruce had been away from Gotham for 4 years in the conversation between Bruce and Gordon. In Issue 21 Bruce isn't "alive" so Gordon wouldn't have had that conversation with him in issue 0 and Phillip has been looking for Bruce for at least 7 years even though he's only been gone 4.

Also the backup story has Bruce being out and about at age 18 (or 19. Not looking at and haven't committed it to memory) This means that during those 4 years when he was away he was 18 which means we have a good range for his age presently which is (12+18) ± 2 = 30±2 (For those of you who can't read that It means between 28 and 32)

Also, I've been keeping a Timeline with all the data I can ferret out and make work. I haven't gone back and re-read some issues since i started doing this so that's why some info isn't there like Superboy's 6 months ago creation which is listed in issue 1, but I haven't gotten around to scanning those issues for the information yet so not added... Also I haven't added the Green Lantern Billions of Years ago stuff because it switches between billions and millions and doesn't give exact numbers or if it does it switches so I just ignore it mostly... Here's the link. It has a list of all the issues included with date information that i know is there but can't use in green or so messed up and unusable that's in red (Batwing v.v) :

DCnU Timeline