Zero Year comes down to Batman #33, as Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo bring the year-long story arc to a close. The Riddler has Gotham in an iron grip. He’s shut down all electronic communication, deflected every rescue attempt, and holds Batman hostage as fighter jets travel to decimate the city. This seems like a lot to bring together in a successful conclusion, yet Snyder does it with great prose and action.
Really there couldn’t be a better issue to come out on the anniversary of Batman’s creation. Snyder expertly brings everything that is great about Batman and his 75-year chronology together in Zero Year conclusion. As Batman faces off with the Riddler in a classic battle of wits, Snyder shows us that it only seemed like the Riddler was always one step ahead. Batman plays into Nygma’s hand, allowing himself to be captured and pulled into a riddle competition with the fate of the city at stake. The outcome proves why Batman has no need for superpowers; his intelligence and quick reaction time is clearly the only power he needs to overcome evil.
After the final confrontation, Snyder moves the story into an aftermath chapter that is heavy on exposition, but provides a deeper look into Bruce Wayne’s motivations and his relationships with those around him. Snyder skillful weaves Bruce Wayne’s city rebuilding project ideas into Batman’s desire to strike criminals down through fear by uncovering a more emotional, fragile side to Bruce than readers are accustomed too. Snyder shows Bruce at a moment of weakness, wishing he could forgot everything about his childhood and emphasizes a life he could have if he wasn’t so determined to be Batman. These characterizations fit perfectly into the established mythology and leave the reader feeling closer to the Caped Crusader.
Capullo’s art is consistently magnificent. There’s uniqueness to his character representations that connect so well to Snyder’s prose. Edward Nymga’s crazed intelligence, Jim Gordon’s quiet strength, Alfred’s strong concern, and Bruce’s vigilant drive are all present in Capullo’s art. His background work is also awe inspiring. Whether it’s the overgrown wasteland of Gotham or the high-rise, laser-ridden setting for the final showdown, Capullo makes it feel lifelike.
Snyder so carefully builds the conclusion to Zero Year into Batman’s continuity that it feels like we are witnessing the birth of a superhero. Doing this with such a strong established history should be tricky, but Snyder makes it seem easy. The story and art together in Batman #33 make Batman more human, which is an amazing accomplishment for a superhero. Batman is all at once stronger and weaker, which makes him that much more entertaining to follow.