Pretty much everyone knows Batman's origin and the story of how he became the Dark Knight. His parents were killed in front of him when he was a child. He vowed vengeance against evil. He traveled the world to train his mind and body to reach perfection. He returned to Gotham City and became a masked vigilante after being inspired to take on the form of a bat.
With the New 52, we have seen some changes and tweaks in the origins of characters. It turns out there is a little more to Batman's story. The details now revealed offer insight into the little moments in between what we already knew. Some are clarifications while others are brand new facts we can now see unfold.
There will indeed be spoilers for BATMAN #0. We won't give away everything. You will definitely want to buy this issue for yourself to see how the history of Batman (and Robins, plural) unfolds in the New 52.== TEASER ==
The Red Hood Gang
The existence of the Red Hood Gang isn't new. We've seen them before and we know Joker was involved. The telling in THE KILLING JOKE made it so the 'leader' wore the helmet but that person was really meant to take the heat if the police arrived. Joker wore it and was meant to be a patsy. Of course whether or not that was his true origin was left vague as Joker admitted he sometimes got his facts incorrect. In the original first appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS #168, "Red Hood" was also revealed to be the Joker who eluded Batman and Robin for a bit.
In this issue, the leader has a slightly modified helmet. He does appear to be fully in control of the other "Red Hoods" in the gang. That marks another difference, everyone in the gang wears a red mask. If the Red Hood here is indeed Joker, he's not the sniveling sop that was portrayed in THE KILLING JOKE. They're a deadly crew. Killing is not an issue and Bruce has made it his mission to try to stop them.
Batman and his Gadgets
This was a time before Bruce even came up with the Batman guise. He has a pretty fancy looking motorcycle used to get away when things heat up. There's also a ton of equipment (see image below) that shows the beginning of his arsenal.
Bruce has been busy in gathering the tools he'd need to fight crime. Because he's just starting out, he needs to be careful with what he uses. Later when Gordon visits Bruce, he mentions the mysterious vigilante using some serious tech.
Bruce Lived in the City Rather than the Manor
In DETECTIVE COMICS #0, we witnessed Bruce Wayne returning to Wayne Manor where Alfred was tending to everything. Here we find out Bruce has decided not to live in the mansion.
As Bruce prepares his 'war' against crime, he felt it was essential to live in a brownstone in Crime Alley, where his parents were killed. It did allow him to be closer to the city but also added another element to arouse suspicion over why rich Bruce Wayne would choose to stay there instead of his mansion.
Bruce Wayne was the Mask Already
We all know that Batman is the real identity and Bruce Wayne is the mask. Batman is who he is. Even before that fateful night when Bruce is pondering what was the extra thing he needs to bring fear to the criminal scum and he discovers a bat, Bruce Wayne was already gone. It could be said that Bruce Wayne did die Crime Alley the same night his parents did.
If this is the case, who did he consider himself? Batman wasn't officially born just yet. But he clearly knew that he wasn't Bruce Wayne.
Gordon Was Suspicious of Bruce
Bruce was away from Gotham for four years. When he came back, Bruce Wayne didn't make too many appearances. Moving to Crime Alley and not getting involved in Wayne Enterprises made people, Gordon included, wonder what Bruce was doing with all his time. The fact that there was a vigilante with big resources easily made Bruce a likely suspect. Gordon warned Bruce that anyone discovered to know anything about the vigilante or offering aide would go to prison as a public example.
What we don't know is what made Gordon change his tune to becoming Batman's biggest supporter (perhaps the events from BATMAN: YEAR ONE).
"Five Years Ago" - What Were the Robins Up to?
We finally have clarification on how long there has been a Robin.
Jason Todd is trying to survive on the streets and has resorted to robbing convenience stores with a buddy (it doesn't go well).
Tim Drake is a top student at Graystone Academy. He's clearly brilliant and very tech savvy. He has no problem standing up to authority as well as carrying out a certain sense of justice.
This isn't everything that happens in the issue. There's also a conversation between Barbara Gordon and her father that should be checked out. The first use of the Bat-Signal is here as well. It seems rather than have so many current Batman titles, we could benefit and enjoy a series taking place in the past (as I suggested in December 2011).
The zero issues are showing that there is a lot of history that could be explored and clarified. Perhaps someday we'll get all the answers we're looking for.
Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter@GManFromHeck. Most likely there are events in his past five years that are unknown...only because he's forgotten about them.