Before Zero Year began, I was honestly worried about it treading the same ground as past origin stories. Now, two issues in, I’m convinced that this is most certainly not the case with this massive, year long event. That’s not to say that Zero Year isn’t hitting some of the same story points as past origin stories for Batman, because it certainly is. However, Scott Snyder is able to put his own twist on the character’s origin, and – dare I say it – he’s actually having fun with it.
Mostly, this fun element rests on Edward Nigma, and his scene with Bruce. This may just be because of the excellent page that Capullo does, with their conversation winding around in a snake form, which is probably the best page in the book. It’s also probably one of the coolest pages I’ve ever seen, and it involves, of all people, the man who will become The Riddler. Everything about his character is so routine, so repetitive, that Scott Snyder having some fun toying with a younger version of the character is refreshing to no end.
And, like Edward Nygma, Bruce Wayne is also young and naive at this point. What we see here is a Bruce Wayne who is struggling to find his identity. He’s not Batman, and he certainly doesn’t want to be Bruce Wayne. More than anything, this is unfolding as a story of him trying to find his identity, something to separate him from everything else.
Of course, we know where that is headed, but this isn’t a story about the pay off. When that moment of transformation comes, it will be a fist pump moment. But this story is about the journey that Bruce takes from where he was at the beginning of issue 21 to where he is now.
As of right now, it looks like Alfred is going to play a large part in that journey. Right now, his interactions with Bruce speak volumes about where both characters are, and it all comes to a head as Alfred calls him a coward. Then, of course, there’s the small matter of the Red Hood game, who are already a different type of criminal organization. There are so many plot points, that, at times, it feels like it could all topple over. Snyder, however, keeps it all together in this issue, and that is just a testament to his skill as an author.