Author: John Bierly (Follow @JOHNBIERLY)
July 24, 2014

SYNOPSIS: Itís been one hell of a year in Gotham City, and it all comes down to this: Batman vs. The Riddler! Gotham City and The Dark Knight will never be the same! Donít miss this special, extra-sized finale of ZERO YEAR!

How about that cover to ZERO YEAR's big finale in BATMAN #33? We've got Batman clutching halves of The Riddler's question mark scepter, flanked by lions in front of an overgrown Gotham that fulfills the phrase "urban jungle." It's utterly insane and infinitely exciting, just as this entire storyline proved to be.

As a trio of F-22s streaks toward Gotham to bomb the ravaged "Savage City" into oblivion, Batman must beat not only the clock but also Edward Nygma in a last-ditch battle of wits. Can Jim Gordon find a way to keep the planes at bay long enough for The Dark Knight's brain to win the day? And even if Batman solves a series of riddles, you'd better believe that Nygma's got some kind of nefarious fail-safe in play.

How far is Bruce Wayne really willing to go to save Gotham City? We all know the answer to that question. But writer Scott Snyder finds all kinds of fun and original ways to get us there, just as he's done throughout this wild new spin on Batman's origin. The tension is real because we really don't know how this era of Gotham's history ended, and the story pushes all of our heroes to their physical, emotional, and even spiritual limits.

As good as all of that is, the real star here is the epilogue, which uses the arrival of a familiar face to beautifully summarize the relationship between Alfred and Bruce. We also find out why a younger Bruce tried to hire a homeless man to be his new butler in issue #32, and it's the kind of answer you'll either love or hate. I didn't really care for that particular bit, but I do understand why Snyder did it and appreciate the chance he took in saying it. What matters most is that glorious final page that requires the invention of a new kind of punctuation that looks like an ellipsis made of exclamation marks. It's so good.

BATMAN #33 Cover by Gregg Capullo

And the art! THE ART! Greg Capullo doesn't raise the bar. He launches the bar into deep space and laughs with the good cheer of a circus strongman as it melts inside the orbit of the sun. He may occasionally mention on Twitter that he hates drawing cityscapes, but I'd challenge any artist to render buildings and skylines with this much variety and character. He nails every access panel, gun port, and stealth serration on the F-22s, and doesn't skimp on a single mechanism inside their missile bays. (The missile itself looks more like an air-to-air Sparrow than an air-to-ground weapon, but that's okay.)

Every one of Capullo's impeccably rendered actions and emotions gets the proper accent from Danny Miki's precise inks, while FCO Plascencia's colors blossom with variety and vitality.

I'm really, really going to miss ZERO YEAR. But if it never ended, I'd never have gotten to absorb those final four pages, which tell us everything about Batman that we'll ever need to know while cementing why we'll never stop wanting more. I hope Snyder doesn't feel as if he should normalize things a little when the book gets back to the future, because the kinds of chances he and his art team keep taking are what make these characters and stories truly everlasting. Bravo as always, good sirs. - 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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