Review by Paul Bowler
Gotham has been plunged into darkness by the Riddler, leaving the city in the grip of a frenzied crime wave as the GCPD resolve to hunt down the Batman. With a major storm set to hit Gotham in the next few days, Batman investigates a series of grisly murder scenes as he waits for the Riddler to make his next move. Old wounds are reopened when Bruce clashes with Lieutenant Gordon, the Batmobile takes to the streets of Gotham for the first time, and a new enemy prepares to strike at Bruce Wayne from the shadows…
Batman #25 starts with an intriguing prologue in Nigeria before Snyder and Capullo’s Zero Year: Dark City returns us to the streets of Gotham, where the CGPD are going all out to capture Batman and his new Batmobile! After evading the GCPD, Bruce returns to the Cave to evaluate the Riddler’s plans with Alfred and find out what killed the two Wayne Enterprises researches. Both victims were injected with a formula that caused their bones to grow rapidly, tearing their bodies apart, and it seems the serum was developed by a former Scientist at Wayne Enterprises…
After a tense meeting with Lieutenant Gordon, where secrets about the murder of Bruce’s parents are confronted but left unresolved, Bruce goes to Gotham University to meet Lucius Fox. Knowing that Lucius was trusted by his father, Bruce asks him about the scientist who was hired and the formula he developed. As he learns the truth about the serum, Bruce is shocked by betrayal and a new adversary is revealed…
Batman #25 is a great example of how Snyder and Capullo’s new take on the Batman’s origin continues to thrill and surprise at every turn. This issue is much more than Batman roaring around Gotham in his brand new Batmobile, which is great fun, and Snyder and Capullo ingeniously orchestrate how the vehicle escapes the GCPD. The “new” Batmobile itself is very much a reflection of this younger Batman’s personality, as is the way he drives it, and I think Capullo’s early version of Batman’s iconic vehicle is absolutely brilliant!
We also get some great scenes with Lieutenant Gordon as he investigates the gruesome murder scene, and later when he almost stumbles on the entrance to the Batcave. This leads to a superb moment between Bruce and Gordon, where it becomes clear there is a lot of bad blood between them, due to Gordon’s involvement on the night Bruce’s parents were murdered. The dialogue in this scene crackles as Bruce makes no attempt to hide his animosity towards Gordon, and we are left wondering for now exactly what happened to cause such rift between them.
It’s no secret that Poison Ivy would be making her debut in this section of Zero Year, and Pamela Isley does indeed appear, but it is the unexpected introduction of another villain from Batman’s past that will surprise many. It’s great to see another of Batman’s villains redesigned by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, especially as it embraces so many elements of the past, while fitting in perfectly with Zero Year and their new approach to Batman’s early career.
The art by Greg Capullo is as awesome as ever, with inks by Danny Miki, FCO Plascencia’s colors, and letters by Nick Napolitano. With the Riddler’s attack on the cities power grid causing a blackout, Capullo makes the Gotham skyline seem even more menacing than ever before. The spectacular opening, where searchlights from the GCPD blimps cut through the darkness as they attempt to track the Batmobile, is really effective. You get a real sense of a city on the brink, with Batman maintaining order as he runs rings around GCPD, before we come to that aforementioned scene with Bruce and Gordon that really heightens the dramatic tension – and the excellent use of tone and color by Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia accentuate every scene perfectly. The gory murder scenes are also vividly detailed, with the corpses horribly twisted and distorted almost beyond recognition.
The back up story for Batman #25 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, with art by Andy Clark, features a young Harper Row and her little brother Cullen who are left on their own by their father during the blackout caused by the Riddler. This is a great little tale, were Harper looks after Cullen when he is afraid of the dark, and it also nicely illustrates how Zero Year is about to spin-off into a number of other DC titles as Harper fixes a lamp.
Batman #25 is another exciting and compelling issue by Snyder and Capullo. Zero Year continues to impress, offering new insight into Jim Gordon and the events surrounding the Wayne’s murder, a fleeting glimpse of Pamela Isley, and the surprise appearance of an old villain from the past makes Batman #25 unmissable.