“Batman #21” Introduces Batman’s Origin in the New 52

Batman #21
“Batman #21”
(w) Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
(a) Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque
DC comics
$3.99

Spoilers!

Batman is a boy’s only club. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Let’s really look at the inevitable comparison to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Year One story that this one book will be compared to. Honestly, you really can’t compare the two. About the only thing that connects them is that they are a story about Batman’s origin after a reboot of the DC Universe. Miller and Mazzucchelli’s story was a flashback that brought Batman into the world of the DC Universe that inspired a major change for how creators approached Batman from that point forward. That is a lot for Zero Year to live up to.

But Zero is a flashback, to a flashback, to a flashback. We start out six years ago, then go back five months before that, then travel even years before that. At the rate this story is going, we will be seeing Bruce in diapers, then a flashback to Thomas Wayne becoming a doctor, then a flashback to young Thomas and Martha Wayne meeting for the first time.

Year One had a focus on Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne coming to Gotham and both’s story of how they rose to the characters they would become. Zero Year is more of a focus on Bruce and what he loves about Gotham. For what Snyder has written about in past issues of Batman and making Gotham a living, breathing character, it makes sense to take the story down this path. That is really the point that the two origin stories take their different paths.

The ultimate touch that this comic has compared to previous issues is the coloring for this issue. It is bright and vibrant. Thank Colorist Fco Plascencia for the job well done. You never really realize how well a colorist’s job is done until something like this really sticks out at you.

Granted, Capullo’s work is as excellent and as consistent as any previous issue of the series. I often can’t decide who has had the better look for Batman in the New 52 world: Capullo or Patrick Gleason. Let’s just say that both have their strengths, and Capullo definitely brings his A-game to the book once again.

There are a couple of points in the story that does clear up some matters of family relations in the New 52. The first is that Martha Wayne’s maiden name is Kane, and yes, that does make her a part of the famous Kane family of Gotham. Who else in the Bat-universe is a part of that family? Kathy Kane, Batwoman. I’m sure this is a story point that will come about in future issues of either series.

Just like in other Batman issues, we get an origin story for another Bat-cave relic. This time it is the giant penny. We also get lots of sights that show the many uses of the Bat-toys, some in their early stages in this issue, including the eventual costume. And I must say that I liked the throwback to the purple gloves that Batman wore in his first appearance, as well as the introduction to the Bat-bike.

There definitely was a feeling that I had while reading that conjured up an amused emotion in me. There were a couple moments that I thought This is cool, but I never had a jaw dropping moment while reading the book. But, like all books that I review, I re-read the comic a couple of times, just to really soak it in. There was one glaring omission that I thought was awfully done in this book, and that is the total lack of any female characters.

Mind you, we get mention of Martha Wayne and get a lot of her backstory revealed, but she has no appearance whatsoever. Thomas Wayne gets an appearance and scene in this issue but nothing for Martha. In fact, I went through the book just to count how many female characters appeared in the first story, and there were three that you could make out in the background of some crowd shots of Bruce in Gotham.

But wait, there is a back up done by Snyder and James Tynion IV, with art by the excellent Rafael Albuquerque. Surely they must have some females, right? Just two, in crowd shots, which was the same situation as in the first story. Which is kinda sad, because I really dug the story of a young Bruce Wayne who travels the world and is testing out his vigilante roots. I believe that there was talk or a series like that for Bruce Wayne when Smallville was popular, but we got Birds of Prey instead, which wasn’t too bad of a glimpse into the female characters in Batman’s world.

The first time a female speaks in this comic is in the Channel 52 segment that is in all DC books to promote what is going on in the New 52 world. The two-page spread features three female appearances and has speaking roles for two of them, one of them the newscaster.

Just for curiosity’s sake, I check out the first issue of Year One. You know, the issue that reveals Catwoman as a prostitute and, coincidently enough, a female news reporter with a speaking role.

I guess this issue of Batman had something in common with Year One after all.

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Sometime in the late 1980s, a Batman comic fell into David Jetter’s hands, and he hasn’t put it down since. Jetter dove into sequential storytelling headfirst and is a fan of any creator that will use the uniqueness of the medium to tell a great story. News Editor, fan, and an eye to the history of the industry is what Jetter brings to the table for Capeless Crusader. Catch him on Twitter @djetter0801, or via email at djetter0801@gmail.com

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