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Thursday, September 13, 2012

DC: The New 52 Zero Month - Week 2

This week's Zero Issues are a mixed bag. What was expected to be excellent was, and then there's everything associated with Team 7...

Batman #0. Riddle me this: When does the back up story actually eclipse the main story? Nothing against the very good Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo tale that takes place during the Year One time period (established as 7 years ago.) In that one, the Red Hood Gang (yes, Joker under the hood, it's strongly implied), with echoes to the Heat tribute heist that opened The Dark Knight, robs the Gotham National Bank. The Red Hood quickly and cleverly determines one of his gang is an impostor, and he is - Bruce Wayne, pre-Batman. Bruce has all the tech and resources he needs but not the symbol he can become. A tense meeting with James Gordon then leads to a cliffhanger that will be continued... in 2013? Wha--?

The backup by James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke is excellent. Set five years ago, Gordon is in full on "I love the Batman!" mode, and explains to Barbara Gordon why the Batsignal is so important to Gotham. We see who Tim Drake, Jason Todd, and Dick Grayson were and where they were in their lives concurrently when Gordon lights the Batsignal for the first time, and how it affects the three future Robins and the future Batgirl. Just terrific.

Batman and Robin #0. The secret origin of Damian Wayne from test tube incubation to the day he met his father. You want fucked up motherly love? Look no further than Talia al Ghul. First revelation: Talia had her nursemaids breastfeed Damian; she protects her nipples first and foremost. No other mother would sword fight duel her son every year on his birthday, dangling the carrot of telling him who his real father is if he wins. But it does seem like the question of when Bruce Wayne impregnated Talia is moot - no doubt they had sex in their past, but Damian is clearly referred to as "scientifically created", so Talia never actually was pregnant with him. All she needed was Bruce's DNA to mix with her own in a cocktail. Thus, the most messed up, violent little Robin of all. I liked this a lot, just as I like Damian Wayne a lot.

Batgirl #0. No, we do not find out how Barbara Gordon is able to walk again. The issue ends with Joker appearing at her door in "The Killing Joke", but the story here is set four years ago when Barbara was in college. She and James Jr. were at Gotham City Police working on one of her school projects when the station is attacked. A killer named Henry X stalks the young Gordons through the station and Barbara dons a mock costume of Batman the Police were using for a briefing (the Batman is an urban myth at this point) to fight off and beat Henry X. Then Batman arrives and gives her an attagirl. We learn Barbara was taken under Batman's wing as Batgirl and fought crime with Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson) for one year. Then she retired to concentrate on school. Then Joker shot and paralyzed her. She was never Oracle, apparently, though she worked with the Birds of Prey in some capacity. It's as fine an issue as Gail Simone's run has consistently been since Barbara Gordon came back in black.

Deathstroke #0. Horrible. The details of Slade Wilson's origin are rejiggered a bit: He was an exceptional soldier who served under Adeline, who would become his wife and mother of his two children Grant (Ravager) and Joseph (Jericho - not mute). Slade joined Team 7, was injured in combat, and experimented on to gain his superhuman strength and reflexes. Then he became Deathstroke the Terminator, the world's greatest mercenary. Rob Liefeld writes and draws it and it's no good. For one thing, the book can't even decide how old Slade is by his hair color. He's blonde in some scenes and then white haired in others and then blonde again. The details are incredibly sloppy. We find out Grant fought alongside Deathstroke and then the next panel later, there's an offhand mention that he's dead or something. Slade suddenly has an eyepatch with no explanation of how that happened. Deathstroke was such a cool character under the classic New Teen Titans but whatever was great about him is just lost now.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #0. I dropped Frankenstein a few issues into its run even before Jeff Lemire left the title. This deals with the origin of Frankenstein, you may have heard how it goes. Mad scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a creature out of dead body parts (his machine is powered by souls of over fifty people he murdered). The creature, also referred to as Frankenstein, breaks free. Victor hunts him all the way to the Amazon. Frankenstein actually walked there UNDER the Atlantic Ocean and communed with The Green, setting up his role in the upcoming Rotworld Animal Man/Swamp Thing cross over. Then we find out how killing Victor got Frankenstein hired by S.H.A.D.E. Still a weird ass book, man.

Green Lantern Corps #0. The secret origin of Guy Gardner is now as follows: Ever watch The Wire? It's a little like that. Guy is part of a legacy of cops in Baltimore. His dad, older brother and younger sister (all with initials G.G.) are cops. Guy is a washout. All the best future Green Lanterns have daddy issues. Guy saved his brother from being killed by black street gangs when the Power Ring arrived (who's ring?) and made him a Green Lantern. After training with Kilowog, Guy stopped an alien killer and earned his badge, then changed his costume to the vest and moon boots. And he never got along with Hal Jordan from the start. So Guy, who couldn't be a Baltimore Cop, is now a space cop.

Suicide Squad #0. Basically, the secret origin of how super action spy Amanda Waller decided she needed a Suicide Squad after she gets involved in some crisis that ended up getting a friend of hers killed. Waller decides it's better to have people she doesn't care about and are expendable risk their lives on these missions, which would be super villains they have incarcerated. This is mainly notable for how many times "Team 7" is mentioned in the book. It's a broken record. Team 7. Team 7. Team 7. Team 7. We get it, there's a new book you're putting out you think is important called Team 7. Which brings me to...

Team 7 #0. This is one of the next wave of 52 books and it's set five years ago at the dawn of "the superhuman crisis" when the Justice League's appearance, the reality of aliens, and the discovery of the metagene caused the US government to freak out and come up with protocols to deal with all of these new threats. A team is recruited and formed, innovatively called Team 7, consisting of Black Canary and her husband Kyle Lance, Deathstroke, Grifter, Amanda Waller, and some new characters. It's really light on compelling characterizations and I don't think I'm into the spy genre within The New 52. Team 7, A.R.G.U.S., N.O.W.H.E.R.E., whatever, none of it floats my boat.