Batman: Zero Year – Secret City Vol. 4
Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: May 7th, 2014
After Death of the Family, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo had a very serious plan to change things up a bit. Possibly reflect upon the roots of the bat and begin to shine some light on how the Batman came to be. Another possibility is that the timing was right after marinating on a couple of years of solid Batman work to really tell you who they think the New 52 Batman is and how he got his start. I have been reading all of the Batman New 52 series through trade paperbacks and it is a great way to read this new series as all the stories are together in one cohesive package (until recently when Endgame released which has been a fantastic beginning to what looks like a crazy story to unfold. The following is another spoilerific review of Batman: Zero Year – Secret City Volume Four.
The story opens up with a 8 page glimpse of a Batman that will come to be in the future. This is quite a cryptic sequence portraying a wild jungle that is Gotham, but quickly that is put aside as the story then shifts via credits page into an earlier Bruce Wayne who has recently returned from a 25 year disappearance from Gotham. The story tells of a hardened Bruce who has yet to announce that he has returned but he is more focused with ridding the latest plague in Gotham City…. the Red Hood Gang. He has costumes, gadgets and he kicks ass. Bruce Wayne returns home to Alfred where he soon sets out to be a vigilante in his city, a city he would dream about as a child as well as escape to. Bruce’s uncle Philip greets him and brings him to Wayne Enterprises to offer him a future at the company but Bruce Wayne soon rejects this offer. After being declined, Philip returns to an office where we are introduced to his personal assistant, Edward Nygma.
Being the mastermind that he presents himself to be, Edward Nygma knows that Bruce declining the offer is a warning that Bruce can not be left alive as he has potential to inherit Wayne Enterprises from Philip. We are soon left with Philip inviting Bruce to meet up at a museum to talk but once inside Bruce is welcomed by a big reception to announce his arrival back into Gotham City and that he is alive. When trying to escape and run away from the reception, Bruce runs into a room with a giant Sphinx and locked doors. Nygma then shows up and greets Bruce with a riddle but also a tip that his uncle Philip has been selling Wayne Enterprise weapons to the Red Hood gang. This is taken with hostility to Bruce and so he solves Edward’s riddle and escapes by climbing the sphinx to the sky window. Bruce leaves the museum and arrives at his condo in Gotham to find another unwelcome and very suspicious looking reception.
Bruce Wayne’s apartment explodes as he enters, and Red Hood One and his gang are seen outside about to enter Bruce’s condo. When they enter, Bruce fights a few of them off but is quickly beat down by the gang with various weapons found in the condo. Beat down and woozy, Red Hood One shoots a picture of Martha and Thomas Wayne to symbolize that Bruce’s parents had then been killed twice. Left to die, the Red Hood Gang leave after fatally injuring Bruce. Being the resilient bastard that Bruce Wayne is know to be, he crawls to safety where Alfred finds him and patches him up to recovery. It is in this physically shattered state that the comment that Bruce isn’t more than what he currently is as a symbol for the city, and witnesses a bat fly from a bust of his father. This inspires Bruce to take up the cowl and the responsibility as saviour to Gotham with all his wisdom at his disposal, as Batman.
Thought to be dead, Bruce Wayne comes back at the Red Hood Gang in a very unexpected way. He calls a public meeting with all the televised media present at the ACME Chemical Plant where he announces that the Red Hood Gang is currently inside and working on a plan to blow up parts of the city. After an attack had occurred on the protest outside of the chemical plant Bruce runs inside the plant in which he has an elaborate plan set up to convince the gang that Bruce and this Batman are two separate people. Batman eventually has Red Hood One on the ropes in a final clash between the two but because of the sky-walk being blown up by an exploding vat of chemical acid, the two are separated mid fight. Red Hood One refuses Batman’s attempt to save him and drops into the vat of acid smiling back at Batman.
Shortly after another sort of doom lurks around the corners who reveals himself to be The Riddler, a new villain who not only takes over all of the screens in Gotham to broadcast his warning and riddle to the city, and explodes all the screens in the public to injure the citizens. This ending is a great lead in part for the next volume of Batman that is to come. As a bonus, at the end of this act, you are given three stories which showcase times in Bruce’s life where he trained to learn some unique techniques for what is to become his life’s work. One of the stories titled “Bruce Wayne” features Bruce Wayne at the age of nineteen working with a master thief at being a professional getaway driver as well as thief. The other two stories showcase Bruce at other ages learning to master different crafts that would eventually shape Bruce into Batman.
The first part of Batman: Zero Year is a fantastic story and one that will go down as one of the most well put together origin stories of Bruce Wayne that have ever been written. The art has a lot of contrast in it’s colours and everything is drawn in such a great style that is pleasant and well detailed. A lot of questions are left to be answered that will drive all DC fans crazy such as, is the Red Hood One that fell into the vat of acid The Joker? I believe this is suitable as an origin story for The Joker as it really gives a credence that he will come back for Batman and his body even escapes the vat of acid. This is a great jumping on point for new readers and is highly accessible as a book to get to really know your favourite Dark Knight. I rate this book an infinite number over the highest possible rating as trade paperbacks also give you extra art and in this case a written first draft of an issue in Zero Year. Pick up Secret City at your local comic book shop today!
~ Tyler Head