Zeroing In: DC Zero Issues Reviewed (Part 2)

 

I sincerely apologize for being so late on these posts, a lot of big things are going on for me right now and it’s with great dissatisfaction that I often end up neglecting the blog for a time. I’ll continue to try to keep the posts coming as quickly as possible, and thanks to everyone for your continuing patience!

DC’s Zero Month continues with three more Issue #0 reviews.

Batman #0

Batman 0A bank robbery at the hands of the ravenous Red Hood gang proceeds as planned…until millionaire Bruce Wayne appears to halt the assault. After making his escape, Bruce returns to the Batcave to continue planning his undying war against crime. Later, Commissioner Gordon pays a visit to Wayne Manor to ask Bruce about the mysterious vigilante known only as the Batman.

What exactly is it about Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s work on Batman that’s so widely hailed? Issue #0 makes the third issue of their New 52 run I’ve picked up, and it’s a middling read to say the least. Sure, we get to see Bruce in action as a ninja-like warrior, blending into his surroundings, seeing him struggle with inexperience and such. We also have a new Red Hood design that looks like the villain’s wearing a big, red plastic condom over his head, coming down just above his mouth.

And as with their other Batman issues, Snyder writes Batman too talky, too social and open about his feelings, not the haunted, brooding creature of the night we’ve come to expect. Capullo’s art feels, on the whole, too much like he’s trying to put his own spin on these characters, to varying levels of cartoonyness. Issue #0 also includes a backup story detailing the origins of all three past Robins, streamlining them into all one time block. It’s more a sad commentary on DC’s pathetic attempts to smooth out the muddled history of its characters than anything.

I continue to fail to see what is so special about Snyder’s run that everyone’s raving about. With all the great Batman runs there’ve been over the years, I have high standards for what constitutes a great Batman story and an incredibly run-of-the-mill one. Snyder falls in with the latter.

Team 7 #0

Team 7 0As superheroes begin to pop up around the globe, the government begins to pull together a team of extraordinary individuals to deal with potential superhuman threats to the US, among them Dinah Lance and her husband, Deathstroke, Grifter, Amanda Waller, and more.

Team 7 #0 is a painfully generic issue that fails to have a real reason for existing. Joining together a lot of C and D-list characters to form an obscure team few have fond memories of isn’t exactly the basis for a great title…where’s the intrigue, the draw, the iconography? I suppose I shouldn’t be chiding Issue #0 for its largely dull exposition being a zero issue and all, but does the setup really have to be so labored? Jordan takes his time with each an every individual character, yet fails to make a case for why any of them are worth following on their own, let alone in a team.

The real draw of the book for me was checking out Jesus Merino’s consistently great artwork. Having done some excellent work on Superman all last year, Merino is definitely an artist to follow, and once again proves his considerable talent on Team 7. Other than that, I just don’t find most of these characters particularly interesting. Let’s hope next month’s Issue #1 cuts to the chase and gives us the real meat of the story.

Justice League #0

JusticeLeague 0Young Billy Batson enters a mysterious realm occupied by a strange wizard who, after an exchange debating Billy’s worthiness, ultimately grants him magical powers based on the teenager’s past good deeds. Billy has other impulses, however, and returns to Earth a new man with new opportunities.

Let’s be clear about this: Justice League has been an awful, awful book since the New 52, but I’ve been following it in recent months for Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s much-needed revamp of the Shazam characters. Sadly, Issue #0 is not all that it could be.

To start, Billy’s interactions with this supposedly wise, all-knowing wizard are borderline ridiculous at times, with some of the laziest dialogue I’ve read from Johns yet. Billy doesn’t even receive his powers because he’s special – literally, his receives them because the wizard had already rejected several other potentially worthy candidates simply because they were flawed, and Billy was the first to point out that everyone has flaws. It’s a cheapening of the mythology; Billy doesn’t have any special qualities about him, he’s chosen merely because Black Adam is free and there’s no time left.

This miniseries has gotten a lot of criticism over the fact that Billy is kind of an awful kid, but I didn’t see it until this issue’s ending. Really, the way Billy chooses to use his powers is legitimately awful. You’d think he’d at least have some inkling of, you know, what being responsible means. Gary Frank’s artwork is also a bit off. Here’s he’s trying to draw a balance of both Billy and the original Captain Marvel into a single person, to wildly inconsistent effect panel to panel. I appreciate the attempt, but it’s useless when the seams are showing so conspicuously.

It’s all topped off with a pretty unremarkable cliffhanger hinting at the fate of another member of Trinity of Sin, who already seems to be going through some rather uncharacteristic changes. Either way, Justice League #0 is brought down a lot by lazy storytelling and unbalanced artwork, but I still find it more readable than the “Holy Moly!” incarnation of yesteryear. Despite its flaws, a lot of the way Billy is treated more like how an actual kid might act works really well. I can’t give Issue #0 a recommendation, but I do insist checking out the overall arc to see what further awaits in the change-up.

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