Marc Andreyko, Trevor McCarthy, Andrea Mutti, Pat Olliffe, Jim Fern
Zero Year Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Recent headlines aside, I’ll be the first to welcome aboard new writer Marc Andreyko to the book he was destined to write. Ever since his long-running fan-favorite title, Manhunter, I’ve been a fan. He has, in my opinion, written one of, if not the, best single issue superhero comics in the last 30 years. His Nightwing annual back during the One Year Later storyline was an emotional roller-coaster and, to date, one of only two comics I’ve ever read that actually almost made me shed a tear. (The other, for those who are interested, was the No Man’s Land epilogue written beautifully by Greg Rucka.) Say what you will about the creators who came before him, but I think it’s safe to officially state that Batwoman is in safe hands with this writer. This issue puts him in a unique (albeit difficult) position: He has to start his run in the middle of a flashback crossover event. But, much like what I’m expecting is going to be the standard to come, he knocks it out of the park. And the combined artistic talents of Trevor McCarthy, Andrea Mutti, Pat Olliffe, and Jim Fern, Kate Kane’s Zero Year issue is one of the best things to come out of not only the event, but possibly the series.
The issue is simple in its plot, which is what makes it perfect. Not too much to scare away old readers or intimidate potential new fans. Kate returns home for her Uncle Phillip’s funeral (whose death was seen in the pages of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s main Batman title), where she is greeted by her father, Alfred, cousin Bette, and finally, cousin Bruce. Meanwhile, a young Maggie Sawyer is seen as a Metropolis Police Department member being assigned to help assist Gotham City with its impeding storm (and inconvenient blackout, no thanks to the Riddler). Bruce politely kicks everyone out of his mansion just in time for the storm to hit and the MPD to arrive, while Kate decides that she is not going to just sit back and watch Gotham tear itself apart. She gears up and heads out on patrol. We then get some pretty cool action where she stops a burglary (and potential homicide) in progress, only to be arrested by her future fiancee. The doctor yells at her. Her dad yells at her. But when she holds her own and promptly falls asleep, we see Kate’s dad smile and touch her gently, proclaiming, “Good soldier.”
The fact that we know the story to come and the actual origin of Batwoman is an important piece to the success of this story, but it’s not essential. We know her troubled childhood trauma. We know she ends up with Maggie in the end. And we know that cousin Bruce becomes Batman and cousin Bette becomes Flamebird. But what we don’t know, which this issue singlehandedly accomplishes, is that we should care. To be completely honest, I’ve only been getting this title for the artwork. J. H. Williams III is a superstar and Amy Reeder is great and all of the other talented artists on this book make it a visually impressive read each and every month. But Marc Andreyko’s arrival ushers in a new realm of possibility for the first time since Greg Rucka left his recreation: Actual characterization, actual plot advancement, and actual storytelling. The good art staying good is just a bonus. Mark my words, once everyone gets over this “controversy for controversy’s sake” mentality surrounding DC Comics editorial decisions, this will be the book to watch. If it isn’t already. Welcome aboard, Mr. Andreyko. You’re right where you belong.
My Rating: 5/5