Villains Month delayed Zero Year, but that is all made up for in Batman #24. We get a double-sized edition, concluding the first chapter of Zero Year and introducing the second. Scott Snyder had hinted that this issue would see the Batman’s debut and reveal something of the mysterious link between the Red Hood Gang leader and the Joker. So how does this work out? Warning: this review may contain spoilers.
I’ll be honest; I didn’t want the leader of the Red Hood Gang to become Joker. Not because I don’t like the idea of Joker having an origin story or of writer’s (re)defining his origin (as I pointed out in my review of Batman #23.1). However, we just had an intense Joker arc with Death of the Family and I thought it would be better to give the spotlight to a different (kind of) villain or villains in Zero Year. Snyder solved my troubles in a mind-boggling way. We do get a very strong hint that the Red Hood will in fact become the Joker towards the end of the issue. However, a plot twist opens up a whole range of possibilities for the identity of the man beneath the hood at that time. I probably said too much already, you should just go and experience this yourself. This is exactly why I love Scott Snyder; he sticks to the original stories, but gives it his own creative spin.
Also the rest of this 64 page issue is cleverly written. We finally get to see Bruce pick up the Bat-suit and the way that Batman incorporates his symbol across town is sure to make you smile once or twice. We even get to see an early Batcave, with Bruce working on a couple of laptops! Gordon meets Batman for the first time and the uncle Kane storyline is brought to a dramatic climax. All in all, these are 64 pages of high-paced writing with classic and iconic moments all over the place. If this isn’t worth the couple of extra dollars, I don’t know what is.
As always, Greg Capullo proves his worth with consistent and befitting art. He makes every scene come alive before your eyes and he knows how to make even the most iconic of moments seem fresh. Even Bruce’s haircut and the Bob Kane-style gloves make sense. The action feels dynamic and Capullo really make you feel the magnitude of everything that’s happening.
The jump from Capullo to Rafael Albuquerque’s art in the last ten pages is quite rough. I realize that this makes sense with this part of the issue being more of an afterthought for what happened before and simultaneously an introduction to Dark City. However, it feels too sudden a transition after the big climax of the issue.
I was a little hesitant to pick up the issue in fear of the answer to the dreaded question: will the Red Hood Gang leader become the Joker? However, this fear was crushed by Snyder’s brilliant writing, which is really something you should experience yourself. This is a comic chockfull of great writing, dynamic art and iconic moments in the Batman mythos. Both the debut of Batman and the climax of the Red Hood Gang storyline are satisfying, but the issue offers so much more. If you are wondering whether this is worth the extra dollars, the answer is a huge and definitive yes.