The Teeth Of Batman #21 And The Beginning Of Zero Year

Will Romine writes;

Hello Friends!

It's your old pal Will Romine here with a review of Batman #21, which marks the beginning of Zero Year. My LCS proprietor was negligent enough to let me root through the Wednesday offerings a day early. My moral lapse is your gain!

Scott Snyder has a penchant for rewording the titles of seminal Batman stories. First we had Death of the Family, now we have Zero Year. Snyder's method is inspired. He plays on our familiarity with the eponymous story to go in depth with characters and settings and shows us that maybe there's something more to be said that hasn't been said in the past 75 years. When The Killing Riddle comes out, you can bet I'll be first in line to buy a copy.

Where Death of the Family showed us what Batman's supporting cast brings to his mission aside from crime fighting skills and specialty weapons, this first issue of Zero Year explores the inter-regem period between Bruce Wayne's return and Batman's emergence. Zero Year examines the inevitability of Batman. Joe Chill may have lit the spark, but the fuse leading to the donning of the cape and cowl was long and twisting.

Snyder's greatest contribution to Bat-lore has been in exploring different aspects of Gotham. Court of Owls showed us Gotham as a keeper of secrets. Death of the Family drew parallels between Gotham and a medieval court. Zero Year, I believe, is meant to show Gotham as a living, breathing organism that responds to its own illnesses. Read on, and I'll go through my reasoning. You just might learn something!

Now I'm no doctor, but I've watched enough House to piece together how an immune system works. If there are any MDs here on Bleeding Cool, please feel free to chime in. Also, I have a suspicious-looking furuncle I need you to check out. (Sidenote: Don't Google Image Search "furuncle".)

Essentially, the immune system operates on two levels, the innate and the adaptive. The innate immune system is usually the body's first response to a pathogen. It senses that something's wrong and sends out a non-specific response to that threat. This response lacks subtlety. It comes out guns-a-blazing and delivers its payload in one shot. It also lacks memory. When the innate immune system wins, it has no memory of the win and no way of ensuring future victories.

The adaptive immune system, on the other hand, is targeted towards the specific threat. It delivers its viral-fighting payload strategically and over an extended period of time. If the adaptive immune system is successful, then not only is the pathogen defeated, but the body learns how to defeat that pathogen in the future.

BM21 #1 (1)Batman is Gotham's adaptive immune system and the GCPD is the innate immune system. Think about it. A police force is a city's typical, catch-all response to crime. Furthermore, Gotham's police force is frequently depicted as a phalanx of reactionary, trigger happy jackboots who respond to all threats the same. Batman, on the other hand, studies the threat, develops a specific countermeasure, and develops techniques to counter that threat in the future.

I believe that Zero Year will chronicle the time when Gotham's innate immune system was unable to handle a pathogen and developed a targeted response to its maladies. In this arc, someone has realized this and connected the dots. He is sharp enough to has read the signs and realizes what Bruce represents to Gotham's status quo. What pathogen could possibly trigger a radical change in Gotham's immune response? We'll just have to wait and see. Much like antibodies indicate the presence of a disease, Gotham is developing its own signs. Greg Capullo's art shows a Gotham that is subtly trying to nudge Bruce to his inevitable destiny and develop the appropriate immunological response to a new type of virus. I've made a collage to show you what I mean. Not spoilerry, but lots to chew on.

BM21 #2On a side note, Kevin Smith's podcast Fatman on Batman recently featured Greg Capullo. If you've heard it, you'll have a better appreciation of the image below. If not, go listen. What am I, your maid?

Now THAT's a set of teeth. Not a symbol of teeth, but teeth I may actually seen and definitely exist. Again, listen to the podcast and you'll totally get it.

Well friends, that just about does her. Definitely pick this one up. Capullo and Snyder make a great team and have had no finer an hour than this issue. Also, I made a quasi-prediction a while ago.

Read the last sentence here, then read Batman #21, then tweet me right at @notacomplainer.

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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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