Monday, May 19, 2014

Booknote: Batman, Volume 4: Zero Year-- Secret City

Scott Snyder, Batman, Volume 4: Zero Year-- Secret City. New York: DC Comics, 2014 ISBN: 9781401245085.

Part of The New 52 titles, this volume continues Snyder's on Batman, and it deals with Batman's origin story. If you are keeping track, it collects comic issues 21-24, #0, and Batman Annual #2. For those of you who may not be regular readers of the comic, Snyder is basically "rebooting" or "retconning" the origin story. I really wanted to like this one given how I enjoyed the Owls' series, but compared to those, this volume was mostly a mess.

The opening story of a flooded Gotham in a near future seemed out of context. Whether this comes from Volume 3 or not, it does not really matter overall because Snyder just plops it in then moves on to the Red Hood gang story. By the way, as an aside, this Red Hood villain has nothing to do with Red Hood member of the Batman family (as far as I know. That little detail did make me wonder if DC is running out of names for characters). In other words, regarding the flood story, it could have been left out of this volume, and it would not have affected the main story in any way.

The Red Hood story was good, though it did take me a bit to realize that it was an origin tale. I did not expect a big road sign, but given how the story just started pretty suddenly, I figured out the origin angle a bit into the story itself, and it was mostly subtle things at first. So, some clarity would have been nice. Still, it is a pretty well-paced action story with a good overall plot. The art quality from Albuquerque remains very good, certainly a reason to pick this up. Batman fans will likely enjoy this. More casual readers may want to pick up the previous New 52 volumes.

Overall, I liked it, but not as much as previous works by Snyder, so in the end I am giving it a 3 out of 5 stars, mainly because the art is good, and the overall story was good. But the confusing elements and the superfluous opening story just served as distractions.

On a final note, I am not sure about the publisher description that came with the galley and is found in the publicity materials. The story, as described by the publisher, is of Batman trying to solve a robbery by Bruce Wayne. There are robberies in this story, but they are not by Wayne, and he is not being framed or such for them neither. This added some further confusion as what they described did not match what I read, and it added to my rating of the work as average.

Disclosure note is where I get to tell you that I read this as an e-book review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. This was in exchange for an honest review. There, we have appeased The Man once more.

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