Let me start off by getting my criticism off my chest because I’m pretty sure it has a lot more to do with DC editorial and their stupid timeline stuff in the New 52 rather than anything having to do with Scott Snyder. The whole Batman timeline is screwed beyond all comprehension at this point. Over in Batman and Robin #0 it’s pretty clear (or seems to be) that Damian didn’t grow up at an accelerated pace. He had a birthday every year (in fact, a key point of the issue). So if Batman’s been Batman for like six years - when the hell did he have sex with Talia? When did prove himself so awesome to her father? And how the eff did Batman go through five (or more?) Robins in all this time? And how did he develop such a strong relationship with them? Marvel may have many things they’re doing wrong (for one thing - death seems to be a lot cheaper in Marvel than in DC), but at least they tend to avoid all this stuff by mostly just being vague about timelines. (And kinda just ignoring certain things like Frank Castle being involved in the Vietnam War or Fantastic Four mostly making sense with 1960s science) And that doesn’t even take into account that Battle for the Cowl still happened so Batman was still dead and Joker still crow-barred Jason.
Now if we forgot about that whole paragraph above and just take this issue at face value, it’s a great issue that only has one thing I don’t like about it and I’ll get to that in a second. I was afraid Scott Snyder might suffer from the same problem that Jonathan Hickman has. Hickman is awesome at the huge, multi-year story, but his one-shot issues since then have been somewhat lacking. Having only read Snyder in arcs that were all building up for a long time like The Black Mirror in Detective Comics or The Court of Owls in Batman I wasn’t sure how he’d do with this #0 issue. It turned out to be great because Snyder is such a Batman fan. The pages oozed with his happiness at being able to tell the stories of Bruce/Batman’s past.
The issue was broken up into two stories. The first story picks up where Detectice Comics #0 left off - Bruce is back in Gotham, but he hasn’t assumed the mantle of Batman yet. There are echos of Batman: Year One, but Snyder’s great story-telling (backed up by Capullo’s great art) does a great job of condensing all of that into a half an issue. He manages to hit the same beats - Alfred’s skepticism, Bruce attempting to do things not as Batman, a corrupt Gotham in which Gordon is an exception. This caliber of story-telling makes me really wish that Snyder would remain on Batman forever. Unfortunately, he revealed on twitter that he’s only confirmed on the book through the end of 2013. The issue reveals the existence of the Red Hood gang which is important in Batman mythos for involving Joker in at least two of his origin stories. And that’s why it’s such a kick in the pants when Jason adopts it as his moniker when he comes back from the dead. Does it involve Joker this time around? Perhaps? The one thing I didn’t like about this issue is that the story is continued in 2013. My guess is that this is because it’s going to tie into Joker and Scott Snyder doesn’t want to reveal that before his Death of the Family storyline.
The second story was basically giving us where all the Robins were around the time of Justice League #1. Given that I already complained above about the compressed Robin cycle that DC’s Five Years Ago Policy causes, I’ll not worry about that here. Instead I’ll focus on how Snyder does two things. He focuses on Gordon and the symbol of hope that Batman represents. The scenes with the Robins-to-be are fun and semi-easter egg filled. Notice, for example, what Jason Todd is wearing. The new compressed timeline appears to have erased Barbara and Dick’s relationship. Look back to what was given to us in an early Gail Simone issue and you’ll see now how the new timeline doesn’t really give them all that much time to flirt - much less for Barbara to find a half-naked Starfire at the door when she goes to confess her love for Dick. At any rate, given what Snyder writes here, I’d love for him to pen more stories that take place in this time where Batman was first getting started. In other words, I think a Scott Snyder Year Two or Year Three (so we can see the new early years with the Robins since the old stories apparently don’t really apply). I also don’t want Snyder to spend too much time in the past if he’s going to leave in 2013. Therein lies the dilemma! I know I did an article on here about whether there were too many Batman books, but I’d actually buy a Snyder-penned book about Batman’s early years. I’d drop just about any other book to read that.