Johnny Destructo reviews BATMAN 0 and BATGIRL 0!!!

Title: Batman 0
Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciler: Greg Capullo
Back-up Story Writer: James Tynion IV
Back-up Story Artist: Andy Clarke
Published by DC Comics
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo

For the first time, I actually WANT a Point One issue! Sadly, that’s a Marvel thang. At any rate, this hero’s Zero Issue was aces. The bee’s knees. The tits. That is to say….great!

At the first, we are treated to a heist that is as engaging and stressful as the bank job from Nolan’s Dark Knight. The Red Hood and his appropriately titled Red Hood Gang are looking to make some bank by robbing one. As you probably expect, things don’t go as expected, but not in the way you might be expecting. As anyone who has read The Killing Joke might notice, this Zero Issue wasn’t just a look into the early career of the Winged Rodent, but of his most infamous yukster. This is a tense opening with only one problem. The Red Hood’s …hood. Not sure why the decision was made to have it fit him the way it did, but sweet sassafrassy did it give me eye-giggles.

After the Bank heist S hits the F, the F has even more S dolloped onto it in the form of a young Lt. Gordon, sporting his adorable and in-no-way-creepy ginger-stache. Ok. I can’t keep a straight face, I’m a ginger myself and even I can’t condone a red-head with a molest-stache. I can only assume that like Turk from Scrubs, he has some horrible talking mole under there that he has to keep hidden. That’s the only excuse. In all seriousness though, the rooftop chat that takes place is wonderful. Not only is the tension maintained due to a great little ticking timebomb of sorts, but the conversational minefield amps up the scene’s heart-rate as well. What does Gordon suspect? What does he KNOW? It’s clear that this version of the character doesn’t get to be commissioner of the world’s most violent and corrupt city by accident.

And then…and THEN: the Robin back-up story. Finally, we get to wet our beaks a little bit about how all of the “intern” Robins start to work on the new time-line. Now, I know some of you Tim Drake fetishists are going to get pissy about this portrayal of his attitude here, but this was honestly one of his best scenes so far. He has a bit more gumption and sass than I’m used to from him, but I’m loving it. We also get a great Jason scene and an …interesting new Flying Grayson outfit, that kind of bugs me just a lil bit. It makes sense given his eventual career path, but one of the only ways I was able to accept the silliness of the Robin outfit was that it was inspired by his circustastic past. There’s also a nice little framing sequence that directly references Batgirl #0, which is pretty cool! Which brings us to:

Title: Batgirl 0
Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Ed Benes
Published by DC Comics
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo

Overall, this is a solid issue, but much like the average teenage girl, some of it didn’t make sense to me. Bab’s characterization seems on point, and I liked reading about her shenanigans. She clearly loves and respects her father, the previously mentioned ginger be-stach’d Lt. Gordon, but isn’t above playing the Daddy’s Little Girl manipulation game to get what she wants. She is drawn by Ed Benes in a way that I’m not used to: respectfully. Nothing against Mr. Benes ,but he does like his cake with a fair share of cheese. But there is nary a panty-shot to be seen here. She is strong, motivated and perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

While this is definitely Barbara’s story, Gail does a really fine job of throwing some creepy bits in there involving her little brother, James Jr. I must confess that I have yet to read a full story involving that fella from the pre-DCnU (The before time…the long-long ago) but I am aware that things did not go swimmingly for his sanity in the long run. Intelligent, yet distant..and even this issue’s baddie Harry X can see “what he is.”

All of these things are positives and drew me further and further into the narrative, which is the most important thing. Actually, to go back just a sec, the name Harry X was the first problem I had with this issue. Sometimes I have difficulty figuring out if a character has a terrible name simply because the writer can’t think of a good one, OR if the writer is making a statement about the character by having that character call himself something dumb. This remains a mystery, but seemed worth mentioning. What’s really important about this character is that he’s big as a mountain and would be more than any normal teenaged girl could handle, so when she wins the day (Spoiler Alert? I doubt it) it’s all the more impressive.

But what really left me troubled was this Harry X spends most of the issue going after Babs and then (SPOILER ALERT I GUESS) she shows up in a Bat-outfit and beats him senseless with Bat-fu. Ok, standard stuff. But isn’t Harry going to piece it together when he sees a red-headed Batgirl Bat-fuing other criminals that OH HEY MAYBE IT’S THE DAUGHTER OF THE COP THAT I ATTACKED BUT THEN SHE PUT ON A BAT OUTFIT AND BAT-FU’D ME IN THE FACE A WHOLE BUNCH?? No? Well, maybe a guy who calls himself Harry X isn’t that bright. OR…like many of the 0 issues, maybe it’s setting up something for a future storyline where good ole Harry comes back armed with secret identity knowledge?

Also, in this issue, Harry calls Babs “Kid of the Commish”. So it looks like continuity-wise, Gordon was Lt. 6 years ago, and was made Commissioner over 4 years ago, FYI.

Despite my little quibbles, this was a really solid issue and a great jumping on point, obviously! So…um…jump on it!

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating/inking for a living, and Booking his Face off at http://www.facebook.com/jaydotdeedot. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD

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5 Comments to “Johnny Destructo reviews BATMAN 0 and BATGIRL 0!!!”

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  1. Pink Apocalypse says:

    Point of clarification: I don’t know how old she is in the zero issue, but Barbara is currently 26. I would have to dig around to find the source if you don’t believe me, but it was valid to me at the time. I just don’t recall exactly where.

    A lot of people seem to be under the mistaken assumption that she’s a teen or something, and that’s not the case.

  2. JD (Host) says:

    CRAP. You’re totally right. So in this issue, she was 22. And it’s clearly stated that she’s in College studying Criminology. I guess it’s the visuals that threw me off. The pink shirt with all the stars and hearts on it, the fact that she tapes news clippings to her wall, the teddy bear on the bead.

    Thanks for setting me straight!

  3. Pink Apocalypse says:

    But…I have a pink shirt with a talking phone on it, and pin newspaper clippings to my wall, and *still* buy teddy bears :( , am going to college…

    Never underestimate the power of immaturity.

  4. JayDee says:

    I still wear band tshirts and usually have a mohawk and wear a Boba Fett hoodie. So I’m right there with you, lol.

  5. Icarus says:

    Batgirl #0

    Ok. AFTER the review we can tell without a doubt that A: Pink is immature and B: JD is just a very strange man (then again, no surprise there, right?). :-)

    But, as for the issue in question…

    This was one of the best #0 issues I have read so far. Gail Simone (man, I MISS this woman in BIRDS OF PREY) hook me up from the very beginning, and I loved the fact that Batgirl’s “origin” (for the New 52, anyway) felt so REAL. It was smooth, believable, and there was nothing in it that felt out of place, or that would make you feel nostalgic for the “old” DCU. Simone definitely has a knack for writing this character, and I don’t think it has never been so obvious for this past year as it was on this issue. Even the “Killing Joke” last panel fit perfectly with the story.

    James Gordon – Without pushing the envelope, maintaining a great balance within the origin story, Simone managed to give James a personality, and make him creepy as hell without going overboard, but using the right amount of “creep factor” to let us know there is something wrong with this kid. This is not an easy task, being this subtle in a comic book, and I think Simone pulled it off beautifully. It is obvious she has plans for James Jr, and I can not wait to see what she has in store for Barbara’s brother.

    As for the “Harry X” name, I don’t believe she intended him to be anything more than a generic thug just tough enough for Barbara to have to take matters into her own hands, AND give BATMAN a chance to make a cool cameo. Granted, I agree that she could bring him back later with the ‘Red Headed Cop’s Daughter” stuff. Hell, for that matter, officer Dwight could come back as a villain, having been humiliated by “a girl” having to pull his fat out of the fire, but the way the story moved made both of this possible future plotlines moot. Barb made one hell of an impressive debut.

    I usually like Ed Benes art, but I have to say that, as good as it was here (and I DID like it), it felt a bit weird in some of the panels. I can not quite put my finger on the reason why, but it just didn’t seem consistant, and I didn’t like the way he drew Batgirl’s earliest uniforms, but that just a minor quibble.

    Overall, Batgirl #0 was one of the very best #0 issues this month, and I would recomend it to anyone out there, whether they love Barbara Gordon as a character as much as I do or not. Gail Simone and Ed Benes truly gave us something worth our hard earned dollars, and I for one can not wait to see what else she has in store for Batgirl. Excellent issue!

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