DC Zero Issues Review, Week 4, Part 1 (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Saturday, September 29, 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.  Today we’re looking at some issues of the core members of the Justice League of America including The Savage Hawkman, Aquaman, Batman The Dark Knight, The Flash, and Superman.
Savage Hawkman #0
Written By: Rob Liefeld, Mark Poulton
Art by: Joe Bennett, Art Thibert
Grade: B
As you may know, Rob Liefeld recently left DC Comics over a dispute with his editors and his final work for them was the zero issues.  And if this is Liefeld’s last work he at least goes out on a bit of a high note.  I’ve been critical of his storytelling in the past but here he delivers a tale with depth of both story and character.  Hawkman, along with Aquaman are what I have playfully referred to as DC’s lovable loser characters.  They’ve been around forever but have never had lasting success in their own titles.
The story picks up before Katar Hol discovers the Nth Metal and becomes Hawkman.  He is the lover of Shayera, the daughter of Thanagar’s ruler, and thus accepted as a member of the royal family.  A deadly plague envelops the planet, killing millions including Shayera’s father and leaving her brother Corsar as the new ruler.  Corsar does not share his father’s peaceful ways and soon begins mining deep into Thanagar’s bowels to uncover the legendary Nth metal which he intends to use to build up Thanagar’s war machine.  Katar opposes him and when the Nth metal is discovered, he finds it has a strange and wondrous effect on him, imbuing him with powerful new wings and armor.  But the discovery will leave Katar as a wanted man…uhhh…Thangarian
Liefeld presents a true origin for the new (old) Hawkman and makes it a Shakespearian-style familial tragedy complete with a dead father, a dispute between brother and future brother-in-law with the daughter caught in the middle.  The art, mostly thanks to Thibert’s incredibly intricate finishes is tope of the line.

Aquaman #0
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado
Grade: A-
I’m a big fan of Geoff Johns and think he’s one of the best writers in comics today but I have not been crazy about all of his stuff in the New 52.  But the fact that he’s made Aquaman readable is a feat that is simply incredible.  Just goes to show that even the silliest characters can succeed with a good writer.
Johns’ zero issue story takes Arthur Curry back to his boyhood and the tragic death of his father.  Rumored to be an Atlantean and hounded by the press and the locals and flees into the oceans where he first discovers his ability to telepathically communicate with sea life.  But it’s a chance encounter with a fisherman that leads Arthur across the world to a man named Vulko, also rumored to be an Atlantean.
Finally tracking down the reclusive man, Arthur learns that he is indeed the son of Atlanna who was murdered by the younger brother he’s never met.  Arthur is the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis and he intends to claim it once and for all.
The creative team of Johns, Reis, and prado pickup right where the left off with the regular series to deliver a poignant yet powerful story of young Arthur coming of age and discovering the treachery that will finally take him back home.  This is one of the handful of zero issue titles that I felt had a strong tie to its ongoing title.  Aquaman is relevant…maybe for the first time.
Batman The Dark Night #0
Written by: Greg Hurwitz
Art by: Mico Suayan, Juan Jose Ryp
Grade: C+
If you have the other main Batman zeros issues like Batman and Detective #0, chances are you’ve already read them.  But if you haven’t, then you should probably read this one first.  The events in this issue directly lead into those stories and while it’s not a major requirement it does make it more cohesive.  
Batman The Dark Night #0 explores the events immediately after the murders of Bruce Wayne’s parents.  Young Bruce deals with his trauma, largely on his own.  He returns to the seedy alley where his parents were gunned down in cold blood, looking for answers as to who murdered them and why.  He encounters a whino, living in the alley and confronts him over what if anything he saw but the young Bruce Wayne is hardly an intimidating figure.  
Jump ahead several years and Bruce is now a young man who is now able to deal with the vermin of Gotham’s streets somewhat better.  He again tracks down the man from the alley and this time is able to get a name out of him…Joe Chill.  But Bruce is not prepared for the revelation once he meets Chill.
You know the problem I had with this story is that it’s simply a little hard to believe.  Alfred is always looking out for Bruce, even when Bruce is the Batman in the prime of his career.  Yet here a 12 year old Bruce Wayne is able to slip out and travel to the very streets where his parents were murdered all by himself?  Not likely.  I’m all for a young Bruce displaying future detective abilities but this is stretching the imagination a little too much.

Superman #0
Written by:  Scott Lobdell
Art by: Kenneth Rocafort
Grade: D+
Perhaps this one should have been called Jor-el #0 as it’s Superman’s father who is front and center in this story.  The brilliant scientist Jor-El has traveled deep inside the core of Kryton, chancing his own fate, to confirm his terrifying theory…that Krypton is indeed a dying planet and there’s nothing he can do to stop it.  So ok…we know this already.  Lobdell’s story might introduce a few more details but these are largely superfluous and don’t add anything to Superman’s background.
The only conflict in the story is a forced and silly encounter between Jor-el and his wife Lara and a group of armed thugs who work for the Eradicator.  Why they’re after Jor-El and Lara is never made totally clear other than one of them exclaiming, “You vowed to the Eradicator that you would bring Jor-El to Heel!”  Oooohhhkay.
I wish I could say that was the worst example of Lobdell’s poor scripting but it’s not.  Earlier when he’s deep in Kryton’s core he becomes his own third person narrator saying, “What started out as mild scientific curiosity has become a matter of life and death.”  I mean…WHO talks like that?  Uggh!  The only saving grace is Kenneth Rocafort’s artwork but that can only carry the book so far. 


Flash #0
Written by: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by: Francis Manapul
Grade: C
Flash #0 follows the same template as Aquaman #0, and Batman The Dark Knight #0, taking Barry Allen back to his youth through flashbacks.  The young and bright Barry is a good student and well cared for by his mother.  However Barry is soon to be dealt a blow that will scar him to his very soul.  His mother his brutally murdered and his father is accused of the heinous crime.
The story darts back and forth from young Barry to adult Barry, visiting his father in prison, determined to find the evidence that will clear his father.  But his father implores him to stop trying.  Is it because he wants Barry to live his life or because he knows there is no such evidence because he is, in actuality, guilty of killing his wife.
This story didn’t have the impact of either the Aquaman or Batman stories.  First off, I’ve never liked Barry’s background changed to have his mother murdered and father accused.  It added a completely unneeded wrinkle to the Flash. Must every character today have come from a tragic childhood?  This was not Geoff Johns’ finest moment as he was the one who came up with this angle during Flash; Rebirth.  Perhaps Manapul and Buccellato didn’t have a choice and this might have been forced upon them.  Either way this amounts to change for the sake of change.



Mania Grade: B-