Batman #33 review

As the Zero Year storyline concludes, Batman is finally face to face with the Riddler, but it’s Edward Nygma who has the upper hand. The Riddler has a proposition – if Batman correctly answers 12 riddles, a dozen weather balloons won’t rain death down on Gotham’s citizens. 

Even if Batman succeeds, the city isn’t safe – government jets are heading for the metropolis to lance what has become a boil on the American landscape. Only a desperate Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox and a SWAT team stand between Gotham and a quick end. 

And so the year-long storyline, which has been broken down into three acts, comes to a satisfying conclusion. 

I was dubious about Zero Year when the sequence was announced, as it sounded like we were getting a verrrrry long version of Batman’s origin. Happily, that initial impression was wrong. What writer Scott Snyder and penciller Greg Capullo have given us is a fascinating look at Batman’s beginnings which, while dipping into existing parts of the legend, has added detail here, finessed aspects there, and introduced enough new elements to keep the most jaded reader on board. 

The conclusion again provides reasons to cheer both cast and creative team, with my favourite moment being Batman delivering his own punchline to the ever-smug Riddler’s conundrum. Little mysteries are explained, subplots addressed and, finally, the ad hoc adventurer who has struggled against both his villains and himself emerges as Batman triumphant, swinging towards his destiny. 

As he’s done throughout, Snyder scatters his script with fun facts, making a thrill ride educational too, while dialogue and action succinctly define the young Batman and Riddler, establishing a new dynamic to carry them forward in the recently revised continuity. 

Supporting characters are treated equally well, with the aforementioned Jim, Lucius and the indispensable Alfred claiming their places in the Batman legend. (I may be reading too much into it, but a scene in which Jim receives much-needed inspiration looks to me like a subtle callback to a well-known night at Wayne Manor.) One of Bruce Wayne’s lesser-known girlfriends also shows up, slightly different to her traditional mode, and I can’t wait to see what plans Snyder has for her. 

The artists’ work on this final chapter caps a Batman run that looks like no other. Capullo and inking partner Danny Miki provide fine storytelling filled with memorably attractive images. They visually define and redefine Gotham and its inhabitants with craft and style.

I don’t know whether the business with the Riddler’s hat, cane and laser beams, for example, was originated by Snyder or Capullo, but the artists pull the scene off with all the intelligence and talent we’ve come to expect. 

Throughout the storyline colour artist FCO Plascencia has veered away from what we think of as the 21st-century Batman palette with winning results, and he sees that experiment through to the end. From the naturalistic hues used for the urban efforts of Lucius and Jim, to the neon nightmare of the Riddler’s lair, the colour work sings – if ever justification were needed for DC’s recent decision to give colourists cover credit, here it is. 

Credit, too, to Dezi Sienty, whose always sharp lettering makes for an easy read. 

The cover could be more of a summation of this chapter – it’s a beautiful illustration, but one fitted to Batman’s lion wrangling of an issue or so back – but let it pass. 

The entire creative crew has produced consistently fine work, resulting in a story that belongs in every Batman fan’s library. 

Zero Year? More like Hero Year. 

9 thoughts on “Batman #33 review

  1. It didn't work for me
    The confrontation with Riddler was nice but when he finally got the chance to put the hurt on him I REALLY wanted him to put the hurt on afterwards with the hiring a new Alfred and the electro shock therapy seemed rushed and slapped together and it just took me out of the story completely.
    Had he gone thru with the electroshock maybe and still couldn't shake the memory of his parents death it would've connected with me better but it didn't and so for me Batman Begins and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm are the best origin stories for me


  2. I can see why you might want Riddler thoroughly bashed by Bats, but I don't like him getting overly brutal. Now if the Gothamites had surrounded him …

    I liked Mask of the Phantasm but just hate what I've seen of the Nolan films (the first one and enough of the second to have me walking out).


  3. What didn't you like about the Nolan films?
    I was kind of annoyed with the suit in the 2nd one since we couldn't see the Bat on his chest and the surviving the fall onto the taxi cab
    3rd the suit can fall out of skyscraper but Bane can break his back in it? How does that work?
    Reading Batman #33 again I get he doesn't have time to hurt riddler just the way Capullo draws him and Snyder writes him plus the colors in this issue alone that made him look so menacing and intense when he's a smug, annoying little $&@$& who needed his put kicked. Definitely would've loved if the Gothamites got their hands on him


  4. Why didn't I like the Chris Nolan film? It took itself far too seriously, with it's growling Batman who can barely move his head, a stupid non-Batmobile and a striving for realism that sucked the joy out of the character. Which film was The Joker in? He was just a boring psychopath, with none of the mercurial nature my favourite Jokers have.

    Oh I'm moaning, I don't want to think about the Nolan films, Sam! They're comic book that seem ashamed of their origins.


  5. It's the Lazarus out isn't it?
    Joker not being dropped in a vat of chemicals?
    The stupid erase all program Catwoman was after?
    Ok I'll give you all of that it had some dumb plot idea all for the sake of being real which was stupid
    But I like Tumbler, Bale's Bat voice and Ledger's joker so as far as a real live action batman goes I love those films (DKR could've been better) I have to agree thinking about all that yeah they are ashamed of the comics.

    But what about a show being ashamed of its character? Arrow borrow heavily from the Nolan films and even stealing majority of its villains from Batman and Teen Titans instead of using Arrow's villains and his supporting cast…seems dc keeps working with studios who are either afraid of the character or the source material


  6. You're not wrong, Sam. From what I've seen of Arrow, it really does want to be Batman; now I hear there'll be a Felicity Smoak-centred show called Oracle. Mind, Silver Age GA was a right old rip-off, so there's form.

    And I'm glad you like the Nolan stuff, I don't want others NOT to have fun. I think I want a Moench/Colan-style screen Bats. Maybe one day …


  7. You have got to be kidding me with this oracle stuff
    I know silver age Arrow was like Bats but he eventually came into his own seems a shame to me but no one seems to mind

    I've probably read issues here and there of Moench/Colan any suggestions?


  8. I couldn't get behind it. I thought Court of Owls was good ( 'cept the Robin/Talon nonsense ), but I think Snyder's Batman takes a nose-dive from there on. he fairly ruined the Joker for me, & the Riddler's a mass murderer now? not having it.

    regards, Green Arrow. the one thing that completely kills the show for me is the abscence of the Ollie/Dinah dynamic from the comics. the domesticity of his relationship with Black Canary is, to me, at least, one of his defining attributes, the loving each other to the point where the two of you get on each other's nerves, Mike Grell nailed Green Arrow, for me. seriously, if you've not read Grell's run on Green Arrow, first as artist/writer, then as writer, it's a stand-out series, probably the first to really embrace the whole “realistic” superhero idea that would later be rinsed to death by shows like Heroes and Alphas and Tomorrow People, and hammered out mercilessly by Chris Nolan. if I remember right, Grell manages to go for something like twenty or thirty odd issues without once referring to any of the characters by their superhero names – even when Green Lantern guest stars, he only ever referred to as “Hal.”


  9. Hi Joe, I can take the Riddler as a killer, he seems to change every few years so give it a while and he'll be a nice guy again.

    I've heard that bit about lack of heroes names in GA previously, I don't know why but that rather impresses me; I wish DC would do an Unlimited deal, I'd certainly track that run down. Dinah without Ollie and vice versa certainly means we don't get the best out of the characters. I can't tell you how happy the Dinah/Ollie scenes in the recent Black Canary/Zatanna made me.


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