As of this year, DC Comics has started a new era called Rebirth, bringing the New 52 era to a close. And for many fans, it’s great news. The New 52 was supposed to be a fresh start for the DC Universe, a place for new readers and old fans to jump on. Instead, it was marred with bad decisions and questionable storylines, for the most part. There were some great parts during the New 52, and the best was writer Scott Snyder’s run on Batman. Now that he’s moved on from the main book, it’s a good time to talk about why you should read it.
5. Gotham City is as much a character in this run
Gotham City has always been the primary setting for Batman’s adventures, and we know that it’s a city that struggles with crime. It often comes off as bizarre that it exists in the same world as Superman’s Metropolis or the Flash’s Central City. During Snyder’s run, Gotham’s relationship with people, especially with Batman, is examined. In particular, the reason no one just leaves the place if the crime is so bad. As Wayne himself says in the Zero Year storyline, Gotham is an anvil where people are tempered, and that’s why they stay. And the history of Gotham plays a major role in the stories, whether the history involves classic foes like the Joker, or new threats like the Court of Owls. Speaking of…
4. The Court of Owls are awesome villains
The Court of Owls were introduced in Snyder’s first storyline, leading into the first event of the Batbooks of 2011, Night of the Owls. A secret society consisting of Gotham’s oldest and richest, the secret masters of the city, everything about them is just frightening. Whether it’s their creepy blank masks, the fact that even Batman didn’t know of them, and he knows more about Gotham than most people, or their use of undead assassins, their Talons, the Court have risen very quickly, becoming one of the best villains in Batman lore in recent years.
3. Zero Year is possibly better than Year One
For years, the most influential story about Batman’s early days has been Frank Miller’s Year One. It was the perfect story for the time, establishing Gotham’s corruption and crime, and the need for its heroes, Gordon and Batman. The main problems the story has now are that it’s a bit dated, being set in the 80’s, and that it’s more Gordon’s story than Batman. Zero Year was an epic saga in three arcs, covering not only Bruce Wayne’s creation of the Batman identity, but establishing his connections with Gordon, Joker, Riddler, and several others, and covering his rise from lowly unknown vigilante to full-fledged superhero. Not only that, it touches on concerns of the modern age, such as terrorism, natural disaster, and the dark side of our tech advances. It really is a Batman origin for the 21st century.
2. The Joker is terrifying
One character conspicuously absent for the first few storylines of Snyder’s run was the Joker. All we knew is that he had disappeared after appearing in the New 52’s first issue of Detective Comics, the only trace of him left was his face, surgically removed by the Dollmaker. Then he suddenly returned, wearing his face with belts and hooks binding it to his head. And he managed to tear the Batfamily apart by implying he’s known all their secret identities for years. He became something frightening, a person as terrifying as Batman as he stayed one step ahead. When he returned for his second storyline, Endgame, he went as far as to make it seem that he was an ancient immortal that had been part of Gotham for centuries, and used access to a well of a strange chemical to survive fatal injuries, and nearly destroyed Gotham and Batman. He may have only appeared in a few storylines, but Snyder restored the Joker to Batman’s greatest threat, making him someone that Batman couldn’t just beat or outsmart without challenge.
1. Batman is no longer perfect
One of the biggest issues with Batman in past years is the idea that he’s perfect, and the thinking that’s why he’s loved as a character. Snyder managed to restore humanity to the character, stripping away the meme levels of ridiculousness. Now, while Batman was still an awesome hero, he frequently found himself up against incredible odds, and felt the pressure against him. He was an underdog, every foe stronger and one step ahead of him, and that made his victories all the sweeter for fans. Batman is often called a human hero, but Snyder made his achievements feel within reach of ordinary people. And that’s one reason Snyder’s run will go down in history for the Dark Knight.