Author: John Bierly
April 11, 2013

SYNOPSIS: Who would cause Bruce Wayne to use a gun?

With all the talk lately about the upcoming ZERO YEAR story in the pages of BATMAN and how it's set to supplant the sacred YEAR ONE as Batman's origin for the New 52, the two-issue tale beginning here in #19 has slipped under the radar. And that's probably a good thing, because its pages are packed with the unexpected.

The story opens with Bruce Wayne dragging a hostage out of the bank he just robbed, shooting Commissioner Gordon with a shotgun, and then running over Gordon with a motorcycle.

The following pages descend six days into the past, where Batman tussles with a villain from a controversial storyline that some of us have been trying to expunge from our memories. (Feel free to ask my why sometime. I understand what its author was trying to do, but it just never worked for me.)

Still staggered by the grief of losing Damian, Bruce tries to channel some energy into looking into the death of an old friend and finds himself mired in quite a mess. The less said about that mess, the better. Just experience it for yourself.

But I will say one thing. Remember how Chris Nolan's Batman movies treated technology? They'd present a gadget or a vehicle that was grounded just enough in real science to make sense but still outlandish enough to remain fantastic and exciting. Scott Snyder does the same thing here with science fiction, grounding a major plot element in real folklore to bring a certain kind of sense to one of Batman's villains who's kind of ridiculous on paper. You'll see what I mean.

BATMAN #19 Cover by Greg Capullo
(Click on the image to purchase this issue!)

He also plants some curious story seeds, with Gordon mentioning the phrase "Zero Year" to Bruce Wayne. So that means it's going to be more than just a title. Knowing that it was some kind of event just ratchets up interest for the upcoming story even more.

As always, artist Greg Capullo juggles scenes of action, horror, and emotion with clear, capable ease. Danny Miki steps in on inks, highlighting all the right lines while appropriately knowing when to drench certain details in bottomless pits of black. The inks really make FCO Plascencia's colors pop.

The backup story written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Alex Maleev (who inks himself with moody colors by Brad Anderson) is weird beyond description, and all the better for it. Without spoiling it, it mixes two very distinct elements -- science fiction and horror -- in a way that brings out some really unique aspects of each other. It looks awesome, it reads awesome, and it ends on a strong cliffhanger that's set to resolve next issue.

Rest assured, this issue isn't just biding its time between big storylines. It's all kinds of awesome. Grab it! - John Bierly


John Bierly still can't believe he
gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.

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