Batman #33 marks the end of Zero Year, which has chronicled the Batman’s first year in Gotham City. The last battle in the Ridder’s war of the mind takes place here. If Batman cannot solve twelve riddles, a squadron of jets will destroy the centre of Gotham City. The clock is ticking. Batman #33 offers:
- Tension filled artwork
- A great value discussion: Zero year represents a personal struggle against pain
- A suitable comic for students studying perseverance, resilience, and symbols of strength in comics.
- A worth story to celebrate 75 years of Batman comics
A series of very close shots build tension in the early pages. The Riddler’s exotic and toxic green colours dominate this comic. Black pages also appear, which are important to Bruce Wayne’s backstory.
Scenes in this comic relies on very close shots at dramatic points to punctuate the story arc. Particularly when the ending approaches. This restricts what the reader can see, and adds to the tension. It is not until the end of the comic that the comic pages allow the artwork to flow widely across the page.
Green dominates the comic book. It’s the Riddler’s influence. Early on in the story, the Riddler plays a game with Batman. The colour of his green suit seems to flood the panels, saturating the air with neon green light, and even warping the colour of his eyes. Scenes where Commissioner Gordon stands outside in the bright afternoon sunlight contrast with their variety of colours.
It’s also worth noting the blackout. Two pages of the story are blacked out. They only have a small amount of dialog. They tie into Bruce Wayne’s backstory, which sets up the comic’s values.
Without his guardians – Commissioner Gordon, Lucius Fox, and Alfred – the Batman would be unable to confront the Riddler.
In a long speech delivered close to the finale, Bruce Wayne comments that zero represents nothingness. All throughout his conflict with Edward Nygma – The Green Suited Riddler – The double meanings of seemingly everyday and ordinary objects, names, and places has become clear many times.
Through Bruce’s complete backstory, the value of zero becomes more clear.
Lucius Fox and Commissioner James Gordon are heroic, and Alfred is a lifesaver to the Batman. There is no way that any of the Riddler’s plans could be foiled without these three men supporting Bruce. They are his guardians, and have a lot to teach him.
The comic values facing pain, rather than becoming numb to the world. Zero year becomes a symbol of the battle for identity and personal strength against pain. Batman becomes a symbol of strength.
A major secret in Batman’s past is revealed. The pain he went through after the murder of his parents reached a point so intense, he voluntarily sought electroshock therapy. His plan was to be rebooted. Like an appliance, the brain runs on electricity. Bruce almost went through with the therapy to reboot himself. To delete himself, and the pain as well.
He decided to remain Bruce Wayne at the last moment, and find the reason to keep fighting and living. Before he could articulate what he wanted, Bruce states he knew he needed something important: he called it the “crazy thing that keeps me from going crazy”. Many years later, the Batman arrived.
This is a story about identity, and symbols. The Riddler’s attempt to deprive Gotham city of light and technology – resetting it back to zero – is defeat. Batman’s fight across zero year symbolises the fight for identity and personal strength against giving up, and defeat, in the face of pain. The Batman became Bruce Wayne’s reason to keep going – a symbol of strength he could use to protect Gotham City.
It’s a fitting anniversary story to celebrate 75 years of Batman comics.
Batman #33 is published by DC Comics ($4.99 USD). Scott Snyder (W.) Greg Capullo (P.) Danny Miki (I.) FCO Plascencia (C.) Dezi Sienty (L.) Cover artwork by Capullo, Miki, and Plascencia.