Earlier this week we heard that BATMAN writer, Scott Snyder, was planning on devoting eleven issues to Batman's "Year Zero." What this means is we'll see what happened right before Bruce Wayne became Batman. How did he build the Batcave? Where did his gadgets or costumes come from? How long had he planned on actually taking crime fighting into his own hands? Or at least we can assume these are the sort of questions we'll have answered.
In a sort of related area, I had pondered over the possibility of going back even further. It was the recent three part story in the LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT digital comic written by Joshua Williamson. In this story we see a younger Bruce Wayne and Alfred traveling around the world. It's Bruce's aim to learn everything there is to learn about life. He may not have decided he would become a costumed vigilante but he has decided to try to learn all he can about self defense and more.
Just as "Year Zero" marks untouched territory, going back even further opens the door to other stories.== TEASER ==
Similar to the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a series set in Bruce's younger years could show us what exactly he did in the years after his parents died and the moment before he decided to become Batman. We could see more of Bruce (with a younger Alfred as well) traveling the world, learning how to become the greatest hero ever. We've seen snippets of his travels in the zero issues back in September 2012 but for Batman to have mastered all the fighting styles he has and to have learned all his detective skills, it would take more than just a couple years. Despite his desire to keep any close connections away, we know there had to have been moments where he might have had a chance at having a little more humanity.
It's clear we already have plenty of Batman comics. It could be argued that we don't need yet another one. Taking place during his younger years would mean no crossovers overs with the other titles. This is one of the selling points (for me) of the upcoming ZERO YEAR story in Scott Snyder's BATMAN.
As for the target audience, there's two ways this could go. This could easily be an all age book, allowing younger readers to see their favorite hero in an age closer to their own. As LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT showed, even at a young age with very little training, Bruce Wayne is no stranger to action. We might have stories with Bruce wearing the cowl but this gives an opportunity to see more of his training. He would still have to do some schoolwork but some of his studies could involve his detective training. The idea may have been that Bruce traveled the world for a few years alone once he turned eighteen but a more realistic idea is that he's been learning different martial arts ever since his parents were killed.
Of course the biggest drawback would be the fact that we would never actually get to see Batman in the comic. This could be a deterrent for some. Despite this, younger readers do enjoy kid adventure stories. My daughter has gobbled up the Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket and Spiderwick Chronicles books, which all feature young characters facing great adventures with few grown ups involved. It's also not just kids that enjoy these stories. Seeing a younger Bruce Wayne in comics wouldn't mean long time fans couldn't appreciate them.
What wouldn't make sense would be having a young Bruce Wayne meet up with other heroes or characters in the DCU. Bruce running into Clark or Diana wouldn't fit with the current New 52 continuity. But there is still so much of the New 52 Universe we haven't seen. There are so many dark corners yet to be explored. Having Bruce build up more experience and being able to become more familiar with the world would add to his repertoire of knowledge Being thrown into different adventures at a younger age would further allow him to constantly be prepared for anything.
We might not ever see a series like this. Again, not having Bruce in the cowl could be a deterrent. Others may feel we already have way too many Bat-titles. A miniseries could be fun but would likely be too condensed and only feature one or two 'adventures.' Some may feel having Bruce go on adventures at a younger age might take away some of the mysticism of his character. I feel it would add to the believability that he truly is the best trained hero there is. This isn't something that could simply be accomplished over a few years after high school. It makes more sense that he would've gained more experience at a younger age.
We already have problems with so much in the New 52 being crammed into five years. A series like this could help to strengthen Bruce's training years and it could give younger readers a place to start reading comics as well.