Review: Batman #0

Published on September 18th, 2012

Batman #0 takes place six years before the events of Batman #1, which launched a year ago with the New 52.  If you’ve been following this book then you know that next month the big storyline in the series starts and that it’s going to focus on the return of the Joker to the Batman/DC Universe. Where did he go? What has he been doing all this time? Who knows? Last time we saw him his face was nailed to a wall at the end of the first issue of Detective Comics.

The issue introduces us to the Red Hood Gang who at the start of the comic are knocking over a bank.  If you know anything about the Red Hood and the history of that character in the Batman universe then you know that this whole situation is being done for a specific reason. After some pretty horrifying happenings it is revealed that Bruce Wayne has infiltrated the group and is found out. Bruce and the leader of the Red Hood Gang have a face off where he tells Bruce, who is in disguise, to kill himself because he thinks he’s a cop. Bruce manages to escape and head back to his apartment in the city to regroup.

The reason I bring up the history of the Red Hood because in old DC continuity the Red Hood was the Joker before he became the Joker. His introduction here makes it pretty clear that this is a pre-Joker Joker.  His first line in the issue is a knock-knock joke, and his first appearance you can clearly see a big smile on his face.  The rest of the scenes he’s in make him seem as a pretty ruthless character but also smart. He has complete disregard for life, his own men included but he’s also the one to figure out that Bruce isn’t who he says he is, knowing that the henchmen that Bruce is ‘playing’ is left handed rather than right handed. What goes against my thinking that this is The Joker is that at the end of the issue it says that this story will be continued in 2013.

I will say that if this is the Joker then this will be the first time that Batman and Joker face off in the New 52 Universe. I think that it is really clever and cool that these two characters are at odds with each other and are already in that life long battle of good vs. evil, long before they are even recognized as the representations of those words.

The rest of the issue is really great as well, Bruce is already in full war mode against the underbelly of Gotham and he’s not even Batman man yet. He does mention to Alfred that crime fighting is his life and that Bruce Wayne is the mask and isn’t important, to Bruce at least. We get to see this mask in play when Lt. Gordon stops by to have a ‘friendly’ conversation with Bruce Wayne.

The back up story, written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Andy Clarke, takes a look at what Tim Drake, Jason Todd, Dick Grayson, and Barbra Gordon were up to five years ago, before they took their place in the Bat Family. I thought the stories for each character were great, especially since the story only had eight pages. I think some might worry about continuity and where everything fits in but honestly, I thought Tynion and Clarke did such a great job letting us know who these characters were in just a couple of pages that I don’t care where it fits in, I’m in this for the story and the characters, why waste effort trying to figure out where it goes in a time line.

Antonio P. Cuneo
Antonio@ComicImpact.com