Batman #21 Review: (Zero Year) Secret City: Part One

by Gilbert Rivera
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Batman #21 kicks off Batman’s origin for The New 52, but can Scott Snyder take us on a new journey without stepping on some toes?

Secret City: Part One begins the tale of a young Bruce Wayne freshly back in Gotham.  In it, we find a man with aspirations to destroy crime from the inside out.  Bruce is shown living in the heart of Crime Alley, literally feet from where the tragic events that inspired him took place.  We are introduced to never before seen characters in Bruce’s life, and also meet a familiar face for the first time, a man that Bruce will have to take on, as he quickly becomes the target of  Edward’s devious scheme.

The Good 

“Then he won’t see me coming.”  This book opens like nothing else before it.  From the first page you are in a world like you have never seen.  While this is set in the past, Gotham is a post apocalyptic land, and Batman looks like a true survivor in it.  This is what Snyder does best, he teases the huge things to come, then pulls back and makes the trip there just as captivating.

“What do you love about The City, Bruce?”  At its core, Secret City: Part One is a tale of lost innocence and growth.  The tale juxtaposes a very young Bruce Wayne, that explores the world around him with naivete and genuine curiosity, with an adult Bruce Wayne, whom is now a man with a mission.  But it is through these flashes of the boy that we see how “adult” Bruce took those lessons he learned so young and is applying them to his goals.  Coupled with the hardened Batman glimpsed at the start, Snyder masterfully shows us how we are dealing with a Bruce that is still naive, without having to beat the reader over the head with it.


The Bad

“Master Bruce, don’t!”  There’s no kidding around, Zero Year kicks off with a bang, and its nearly impossible to find something bad with it.

The Mediocre

“Oh, we’re going there. Yes we are.” While this may seem a bit like nitpicking, if there is one weak spot in this issue, it would be in the call back.  We get a glimpse into what we can assume is the climax, only to be thrust back into a different climax.  The story proper begins with the resolution to the story that began in Batman #0 (you see what they did there) but suffers from not being fresh in the reader’s mind, especially after the intense arc that was Death of The Family.  This, however, is only a minor inconvenience and can be easily enjoyed even without prior knowledge.


Final Thoughts

Batman  #21 is an amazing issue.  Snyder is once again right on point in constructing a wonderful start to a story arc, all the while eliminating any concern of re-treading.  The teases, glimpses, and hints at things to come serve to excite readers, both new and old, and have me chomping at the bit for the next issue. Capullo’s art is amazing and its exciting to see him work with such vibrant colors.  This issue is an absolute must read.

GRADE: 9.5/10

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