First Review: Batman #23

imageWill Romine writes;

Hello friends!

It's your old pal Will Romine here with a shocking bit of news that the non-disclosure agreement says I can now share. I was on the short list of candidates to play the new Doctor. Admittedly, I don't have the acting chops to carry a 40 year old franchise. Hell, I'm not even British. What I do have over any of the other 13 Doctors is that I actually do have mastery over space and time. Unfortunately, what I possess in raw power, I lack in ambition. Rather than preventing assassinations or visiting bygone eras, I prefer to use my powers for the little things, like making a sunset last a little longer, or getting in a few extra minutes of sleep. Lucky for you, I've used my abilities today for semi altruistic reasons. I've traveled a day ahead in time to read Batman #23 and share my thoughts with you. Don't all thank me at once.

Batman #23 is the third part of the "Zero Year" arc captained by Misters Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Yes it's an origin story, but is that such a bad thing? Every so often, writers and artists will revisit the roots of a character and add their own spin. When it's done well, we're left with something that adds to the original without altering the fundamentals of why we love the character. What Snyder is doing isn't rehash, it's jazz. Just like Coltrane's rendition of "My Favorite Things" can be enjoyed as both an independent and derivative of the original, so too can Zero Year be enjoyed alongside Detective Comics #33, Year One, or any of the other books tackling Batman's origin story. They can be read separate from each other, or together as one single tapestry.

However, Snyder's contribution to Batman's origin story would be a waste of ink and paper if it didn't contribute anything unique. Gus van Sant's rendition of Psycho did nothing to further the legacy of Hitchcock's original precisely because it was a literal shot-for-shot reproduction. Zero Year is anything but. What Snyder adds to his take on this 75 year old story is to frame Batman as Gotham's natural, almost biological response, to the plagues that affect her. The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne affected more than just one eight year old boy. It hurt a city. In a previous review, I discussed this concept of Batman as Gotham's t-cells. This issue introduces some of Gotham's other immunological responses. The thing about immune systems: sometimes they attack healthy cells. Read it and you'll see what I mean.

Overall, the issue was enjoyable. It's not an Earth-shattering, game-changing issue, but with long form story telling, not all issues should be. Instead, it gives the reader a chance to catch their breath and put together the pieces for what promises to be a rollicking good time onward.

Also, I have to give praise to the masterful artwork of Greg Capullo. The way he drew a pulverized Bruce Wayne could only have come from either too many Rocky marathons on TBS or a place of deep, personal pain. WHO HURT YOU MR. CAPULLO?!?!?!?!?!

Well friends, it's getting to be dinnertime here in Dhaka, so I'll take my leave. Did anyone find the Batman Beyond touchstone in this issue? If you did, let me know @notacomplainer If you didn't find it, ask your ol' pal Will Romine for help @notacomplainer. Ta!

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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