DC Zero Issues Review, Week 2, Part 1 (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Source: Mania.com

To mark the one year anniversary of DC Comic’s New 52, September has been tabbed as Zero Month.  The New 52 titles will be getting #0 numbered issues all month featuring stand-alone stories that tell the origins of a character or team, or offer surprising new details about the New 52 Universe.  
 
Deathstroke #0
Written By: Rob Liefeld,
Art by: Rob Liefeld
Grade: C
 
Deathstroke #0 is everything that is bad about the New 52, unfortunately.  It not only retcons Slade Wilson’s history from starting in the Korean War to the modern era, but also retcons him as a member of the mercenary group “Team 7” now that the Wildstorm universe has been incorporated into the DCU for no good reason other than to lend some credibility to the Wildstorm side of things.  Slade’s origin is mostly kept intact…He lies about his age to join the military at age 16.  He catches the eye of Captain Kane, a female officer.  The two later fall in love and have two children.  But in the revamped origin, Slade loses his left eye saving an old comrade while in the original, it was Slade’s wife that shot it out, attemting to kill him after she blames him for the injury to their son.  Liefeld’s new origin is pedestrian to say the least.  The origin of Slade’s enhanced powers is also roughly kept the same although in Liefeld’s story it’s suggested he was an unwilling or at best, an unwitting participant.
 

There’s very little here that Liefeld can call his own and what is was changed for seemingly no reason at all.  But then, and believe me I am not trying to pile on the bash Liefeld bandwagon, but as a writer the guy makes a good artist.  I’ve never felt that any of his comic writing was the least bit compelling and Deathstroke #0 hasn’t changed my opinion.  As an artist, Liefeld has a better grasp of the anatomy than he did years ago when his figures were often out of proportion and top heavy but I do still have one complaint.  If you get this book open it to page four where this is a half-page portrait of 5 soldiers, one is wearing a bandana, one is African American and has close-cropped hair, the other three Caucasian men all have EXACTLY the same hair style except the coloring is different.  And this is the same style of hair that Cable used to have and the same style of hair that seemingly every other male character has that Liefeld draws.  Jeez…how about a mullet to break up the monotony. 

 
Batman and Robin #0
Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Pat Gleason, Mick Gray
Grade: B
 
Ok, I know as a reviewer I’m supposed to be objective but I’ve always hated the idea of the idea of Batman having a son with Talia Al Ghul, and that son, Damian, becoming the new Robin.  This is one idea that I hoped would be scrapped with the New 52 but no such luck.  Despite the fact that previous Robins Dick Grayson and Tim Drake are a part of the New 52 we still get Damian and it’s still a BAD idea.  
 
The zero issue traces Damian’s life from infant to somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12.  Curious about who his real father is, Damian questions his mother but is told she will only reveal the name of his father once he can best her in battle.  Every year mother battles son on his birthday until finally on his tenth birthday, after training for years with the League of Assassin’s, Damian defeats his mother and finally learns about his father.
 
I just love the art by Gleason and Gray, particularly the narrow columns in the middle that show the battles between Talia and Damian.  It’s a brilliant sequence conveys so much powers in such small panels.  While I might not like the general idea of Batman having a son and becoming Robin it’s easy to see from this issue where Damian got his murderous skills and cold demeanor.

 
 
Batman #0
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
Grade: A-
 
Believe it or not if there’s one character’s whose background has always needed a little fleshing out it’s Batman.  His original origin had him watch his parents murdered as a boy and then year’s later as an adult, a bat crashes through the window of Wayne Manor and he thinks, “That’s it!  I will become a bat.  The Batman!”  Literally, that was it when it came to his origin.
 
Batman’s history has remained unchanged for the most part but with more of those years filled in.  Snyder’s story takes place after Bruce Wayne has returned from his self-imposed exile (and after the events in Detective Comics #0) but before he has taken on the Batman costume.  Wanting to be close to the action and criminal element, Wayne leaves his mansion to take up residence in a Gotham City brownstone where he and Alfred constantly monitor police and criminal activity.  Wayne infiltrates the deadly Red Hood Gang to try and end their spree of bank robberies with near disastrous results.
 
Well considering Bruce Wayne went from a boy to a young man in a page back in the Golden Age, there are a lot of years to fill in.  Snyder’s story shows a progression in Batman’s tactics.  His epiphany with the bat flying through his window can still take place, yet before that we have a crusading Bruce Wayne utilizing his wealth and technology to fight crime.  Snyder does what you would wish all of the Zero issue writers would do…fill in some gaps without sacrificing the source material and original origin.  

 

 

Batgirl #0
Written by: Gail Simone
Art by: Ed Benes
Grade: C+
 
Talk about a strange trip, Batgirl truly has gone full circle.  From getting shot and paralyzed by the Joker in The Killing Joke and then becoming Oracle, Barbara Gordon is once again Batgirl.  And yes she was still shot by the Joker, still paralyzed…but as with the villager from Monty Python and the Holy Grail who got turned into a newt…she got better.  Barbara has regained the use of her legs and once again taken the mantle of Batgirl.
 
Gail Simone’s tale takes us back to Barbara’s college days before she donned the cape and tights.  Working on a paper for her criminology class she is on a tour of the Gotham PD and catches a glimpse of several detectives discussing the new vigilante known as “Batman”.  They even have a mockup of his costume as they determine he’s using high tech gadgets as opposed to having any true super powers.
 
Barbara’s eavesdropping is interrupted as the police bring in a dangerous serial killer who has a cult of followers that attack the station to try and free their leader.  Ok, so remember that mockup of a costume I mentioned…yep.  Barbara throws it on, utilizing the years of martial arts training she’s had to take on the killer and gets a pat on the back from Batman.
 
The action in Batgirl #0 is heavily forced.  I’m not buying that cops are going to escort a dangerous killer inside the station and then let him stop to small talk with the young college student…especially when that student is the daughter of the Police Commissioner.  This felt like a reach by Simone to add some oomph to Batgirl’s background.  Solid art by Benes though, ups the grade.

 


Mania Grade: B-
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