Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira
Zero Year Crossover
Spoilers ahead! You have been warned!
The writing team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti rarely disappoint, so when Judd Winick left Batwing and there was a little bit of panic for me as one of seemingly very few fans of this title. But lo and behold, hope arrive in the form of a new creative team (that I actually like and respect) as well as another surprise: A new Batwing. Enter: Luke Fox, one of Bruce Wayne’s greatest ally’s sons. Needless to say, I’ve remained a supporter of this title, even though I think it would have probably made more sense to start it over with a new number one issue. This issue, told almost entirely as a flashback tale, is a wonderful jumping on point for new fans or even skeptical lapsed ones. The art team of Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira do a wonderful job complementing Gray and Palmiotti in a special Batman Zero Year crossover issue.
The issue, narrated by Luke, spotlights the hero who is destined to become the second Batwing. Taking place years ago, we witness Luke and his friend, Russ, training in the bad part of Gotham City. Luke wants to become a fighter and Russ just wants to become someone who doesn’t get bullied and ridiculed on a daily basis. Cut to the subway ride home, where Luke single-handedly takes out a dangerous (not to mentioned armed) gang of thugs who are hassling the two. This forms a rift in the two friends’ relationship, as Russ just wants to be left alone and thinks that Luke has created yet another set of bullies. We then witness a week in the life of Russ, and to be completely honest, I don’t buy it. Kids are cruel and can be mean, but this scene (and later motivation) just simply didn’t seem real to me. The dialogue just took me out of the scene. Kids don’t talk that way. But before I could be completely taken out of the book, I was pulled right back in by the scene where Luke teams up (if you can call it that) with a young Batman against the same thugs he fought earlier in the issue. Before he can celebrate or even fathom that he could one day be just like Batman, Luke is immediately locked into combat with Russ, who has used his brain to become a giant hulking and venomous monster, hell-bent on not only taking out the bullies who tormented him in his past life, but everyone else in Gotham as well. There’s a pretty cool fight that escalates quickly once the cops arrive, and we see Luke accidentally triggering a bomb that seemingly kills his once friend, giving him the almost obligatory tragic beginning to his heroic career.
The greatest strength of this issue is its reliance of character-driven and well-written dialogue. Excluding the stereotypical “bad guy motive” scene, it’s a pretty solid script. The art is consistent and action-packed throughout. And even though it’s only a couple pages at the very end, it was a nice touch having Russ narrate the finale of this one-and-done story. Setting the final pages in modern-day gives this issue a much-needed reminder that the series is still going. And Russ will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later, to wreak havoc on not only Gotham City’s “bullies,” but the man who killed him: Luke Fox. It’ll be interesting to see how Gray and Palmiotti handle the “bully becomes a murderer” arc. I have faith in them to do it with taste and believably. This issue successfully did two things that I thought were impossible: It made Luke a little more likable and it didn’t even make me regret the completely unnecessary extra dollar on the cover price. Count me in for the next storyline.
My Rating: 4/5