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The Batman Zero Year Reading Order
How The Dark Knight Arrived in The DC New 52
Start Date: June 2013
End Date: TBD, expected to run into mid 2014.
And you thought you knew Batman's origin? Well, guess what? You don't. In DC's premiere of the makings of Batman, they've organized an entire event surrounding the Caped Crusader called "Zero Year", or better known as the Batman Zero Year.
Picture: Batman calls on his father's ghost to show him a sign. Excert from Batman #24 (2013).
In this epic series of comic book story arcs, you'll be introduced to Bruce Wayne's most contemporary version of the beginning of The Dark Knight. And if you want to be critical, it doesn't conflict with past accounts. This will be the referenced version, now that the DC Universe irrevocably changed.
Greetings! You've stumbled upon the Batman Zero Year (Hashtag: #ZeroYear) Reading Order and Summary Page. This is an formalized guide for those of you interested in picking up the latest issues of DC's most popular superhero and following along as his origin is finally revealed. Here, you will find some artwork and a concisely-organized list. There are spoilers, but they are provided farther below. There is also a detailed summary of each issue; if you're lost, feel free to use it as a means to get back on course.
Want to get involved? Leave a comment in the guestbook. We comic-book types argue all the time. Most of all, though, enjoy The Bat, for that's why you're here.
The Reading Order - Last Update: November 20, 2013
Part 1: The Secret City
001 Batman #21
002 Batman #0
003 Batman #22
004 Batman #23
005 Batman Annual #2
Part 2: Dark City
006 Batman #24
007 Nightwing #25
008 Batwoman #25<--Just Released: 11/20/2013
009 Black Canary #25<--Just Released: 11/20/2013
010 Batman #25
011 Red Hood and The Outlaws #25<--Just Released: 11/20/2013
012 Batwing #25
013 Detective Comics #25
014 Green Arrow #25
015 Green Lantern Corps #25
016 Batgirl #25
017 Action Comics #25
Disclaimer: The Reading Order is fluid until the event is over.
11/20/2013 - There were 3 drops for this week. They've been implemented and now this Reading Order is current.
11/20/2013 - Added the 4 issues from last week. This page is now updated waiting for today's comic book drops. I'll be here tomorrow to add them in. (And if I can't do it tomorrow, I should be able to do it Friday.)
11/19/2013 - Added more issues. I have 4 more issues and this Reading Order will be current. They will be added tomorrow, Wednesday, November 20. (Of course, whatever drops tomorrow will also keep me kinda busy.)
11/18/2013 - Started this Summary Page and Reading Order for Zero Year today. I'm not going to be able to finish it right now, but tomorrow I'll get to work on it early and have it ready for the Wednesday drops.
Detailed Summaries - It Started Six Year Ago...
001 Batman #21 - Begins the Zero Year story arc. Establishing the setting as six years prior from the present, Bruce Wayne, thought dead, is holed up with his former butler, Alfred Pennyworth, in a Brownstone apartment. During this alliance, Bruce has been facing the Red Hood Gang lead by the mysterious "Red Hood One" and recently provided cover for many low-level businessmen who have refused to join the criminal gang. At the same time, Alfred wants him to return to public life to announce he's back in Gotham. As Bruce begins to leave for another mission, though, his Uncle Philip Kane appears and says he's been tracking him. They ride to the new Wayne Industries building where he attempts to convince his nephew to appear and take over the company. Bruce refuses, says he's no longer the same as he was before, and leaves. Later that night, Mr. Kane discusses his nephew with Edward Nygma, his leading strategist. Edward's solution is simple: Kill Wayne. In the backdrop of this issue are two other stories: 1) Intertwined in the main story are events of Bruce's childhood, including a point where he finds a cavernous recess, and 2) After the main story, a mini-arc where Bruce, age 19, learns stunt-race driving from a professional thief.
002 Batman #0 - This is a special Batman issue that occurred during the DC "0" Month of September 2012. It appears to occur before his Brownstone apartment was blown up. During a bank heist, the Red Hood Gang's crime is interrupted by one of their own, Bruce Wayne in the guise as a Red Hood thug. He's been found out, but quickly recovers, beats a fighting retreat, and escapes through the sewers. Now back in his apartment, Alfred begs him to return to Wayne Manor, but he refuses. He's then distracted as Commissioner Gordon arrives. Both make their first round of introductions, Gordon suspicious and warning Bruce of any vigilante activities, and Bruce responding in an openly dismissive manner. Later, the Red Hood Gang can be seen outside Bruce's apartment; their goal is to blow it up. Additionally: There is also a mini-story with Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake.
003 Batman #22 - Takes place a short while after Batman #21. Starting within the domain of a blimp, Wayne poses as Oswald Cobblepot - whom was kidnapped, tied, and stowed in a compartment below - to learn Red Hood One's plan. The villain, however, realizes that he's not facing Cobblepot, as his gang crashes in, retrieving Wayne Industry sonic weapons. Before his true identity can be revealed, Bruce uses cover to fight back. He barely escapes, returning to his base at Pennyworth's home. While there, Alfred becomes unnerved and argues with him over the Wayne Legacy. Damaging words are traded and Alfred breaks his allegiance, returning back to the actual manor. Bruce then contacts Philip Kane; he meets him at midnight hoping to warn him about the stolen weaponry. His uncle, though, is only concerned about Bruce's "coming out" and betrays him, he turns on the lights and reveals Gotham City's high society in a welcome home party. Bruce flees, but inadvertently runs into Edward Nygma. The two have words, mentally squaring off for the first time. Eventually Bruce finds the exit, though, and gets away. He heads to Alfred's place, hoping to find the butler and make amends. Once he's upstairs he's surprised to find presents, a welcome home sign, but no Alfred. Outside, the Red Hood Gang has materialized; Red Hood One then blows up Alfred's apartment. In the backdrop of the issue, there are intertwined scenes of a very young Bruce exploring a cave he found, filled with bats. There is also a mini-story with Bruce at age 21 learning how to improvise and escape from a Russian Cold War agent.
004 Batman #23 - Occurs immediately from Batman #22. As soon as the building explodes, Red Hood One leads his gang inside, encountering a nearly-dead Bruce Wayne. They begin beating him fresh until their time has run out; the building is about to collapse. Somehow, Bruce makes it out and drags himself to Wayne Manor where Alfred gathers him and begins stitching him up. Bruce comes to and pulls himself away as Alfred renews his allegiance to Wayne household. With the manor dark, Wayne sifts through family trinkets finding the "Witch Eye" he used as a child when he fell into the cave. Almost broken, he senses emptiness and calls on his father's ghost to give him a sign. Suddenly the Witch's Eye activates and the room is draped as a dismal cave. He opens the doors and bats - a cloud of flutterers - invade the house, with one resting his father's bust. Bruce becomes entranced, realizing he has his answer. Note: Afterwards, a mini-story where Bruce, age 24, studies hand-to-hand combat and the nature of war in Norway. Now being tested in a pit, he's ordered to learn the final lesson of killing. Bruce refuses, and fights for over a day until the men are now afraid to face him in combat.
005 Batman Annual #2 - This annual takes a break from the main Zero Year storyline, but was released after Batman #22 with a strong reference to this event, placing it here. It is not officially part of the Zero Year event. In present day, while helping Arkham Asylum test their high security "Tartarus Wing", Batman faces a woman of the past century calling herself "The Anchoress". She escapes her cell through the power of Quantum Tunneling and prepares to drive him insane. He escapes, but eventually faces her on the rooftop in a showdown of words and psychology. Note: This story is mostly told from an orderly's perspective. Also, during the encounter between Anchoress and Batman, they both remember Batman's days during "Zero Year", infiltrating the Asylum and stealing records on the Red Hood Gang.
006 Batman #24 - Occurs shortly after Batman #23, but we can allow for the intermission of Batman Annual #2 as the event switches from "Secret City" to "Dark City". Bruce has now established his base - a cave under Wayne Manor - and his first version of the Batman cowl. Across Gotham City, rumors are arising of a bat-like figure as he takes out members of the Red Hood Gang. He still, however, hasn't figured out their goals...until a map indicates ACE Chemicals may be the center of their activities. As Bruce Wayne, he heads to the industry and makes a public statement, which in turn acknowledges that he is alive and back in the public eye. During the press statement, he reveals the Red Hood Gang's intentions and how they are using ACE as a BASE (Yeah, I just made a pun.) Immediately, goons from the gang fire down below and cause an explosion. Bruce uses the distraction to become Batman and fight them inside. The ending result is well known among fans: in a square off with Red Hood One, Batman beats the villain who then falls into a vat of green, boiling chemicals. After this adventure, and at the end of the issue, a blackout occurs. The Riddler appears, threatens, the city, and then causes the lights to go out in Gotham.
007 Nightwing #25 - This could occur after Batman #25, but is perfect after Batman #24 at the moment when the blackout happens. Dick Grayson is one of the most superior acrobats ever seen, and this has some backlash at Halley's Circus, including some estrangement from Reya and Raymond, his two friends. He decides to go see a movie when suddenly a blackout occurs. The crowd rushes to the exit, knocking him out. When he comes to, he's realizes he's been pulled to safety by a small gang of teenagers his age. They decide to head to one of their houses, but are sidetracked when a monstrous creature breaks out of the Gotham hospital. It chases them to a warehouse where they can bar the door and buy time. One of kids are hurt and another wants to leave him behind. The rest of the group refuses and decides to act like a team.; they don makeshift masks and sneak out a side door. Unfortunatetly the monster sees them and Dick has to use his acrobatic skills to lure him away. On the rooftop, the monster makes a misstep and falls to the ground below. Later, the kids make it to safety and Dick is grounded. His parent later decide to use masks and become more of a team as a consequence.
008 Batwoman #25 - Occurs from when Philip Kane dies, but ends near Batman #24. Kate morns the loss of Philip Kane, but gets stuck in Gotham City when the power goes out. Instead of taking it easy, she goes out and stops a gang of jewel thieves, also rescuing an innocent kid.
009 Birds of Prey #25 - Happens at the time of the blackouts. Dinah has taken over the Dojo from Master Dresmond since his death, but has to face the blackout and ninja who are after a device carried by the mysterious Mister Yu. Once killed, he passed it along to her. She tries to put up a fight, doing very well, until she's rescued by Lynch (from Team 7). They make their way back to her Dojo, but it's been burned down. Lynch decides to recruit her from that point on. She accepts.
010 Batman #25 - Continues a short time after issue #24. The issue has a mini pro and epi-logue where soldiers in Afghanistan find a hatch in the sand. At the end, they are dead. Noticeably, and a clue, is a helmet saying "Tokyo Moon", which also happens to be one of the post-it notes from Edward Nygma seen in Batman #21. The main story involves the entrance of a new villain called "Dr. Death". Across the city, people are appearing in tortured poses, their bones misshapen and elongated. Batman is now a very real presence and is eluding the Gotham PD as he gathers clues. As Bruce Wayne, he meets with Lucius Fox about a scientist named "Helfern", but before he can get enough information, Lucius injects him with special substance. From the background, Dr. Death steps forth. Special Note: Pamela Isley makes an appearance in this issue. Also included: A mini story called "People in the Dark" starring two kids, Harper and Cullen, during the blackout. Left alone, Harper quells Cullen's fear by using a battery to turn on a light.
011 Red Hood and The Outlaws #25 - Takes place during blackouts. Jason and his friend find some Red Hood masks and decide they'll infiltrate a meeting set up to reorganize the broken gang. While waiting, Jason spots a crime, tries to stop it, and meets Talia al Ghul. She convinces him to take her to the meeting where she tries to kill an Untitled. Surprisingly, it's Jason that depowers him; Talia decapitates the leader afterward. After they split up, Talia finds her father, Ras al Ghul, and tells him they should watch Jason. Note: Jason meets a figure with a crowbar, former Red Hood Gang member, who is probably Joker.
012 Batwing #25 - It's established that the storm is coming in a few days and some blackouts are reported which likely means The Riddler has introduced himself. Luke Fox trains in MMA with his friend Russ, but poor Russ just doesn't have the knack for it because he has Synesthesia, a condition that mixes up the communication of his senses. And while Luke tries to stay friends with Russ, continuous bullying from other kids in school causes Russ to go off the dead end, purchasing a drug called "snakebite" which enhances his strength and endurance. Luke tries to stop him, but he has no chance now. Somehow, though, he manages to get the remote controller for bombs Russ placed in their school, blowing him up in the process, or so he thought. Note: There is a small encounter in the issue where Luke is cornered by some thugs and Batman shows up. Luke is heavily inspired by Batman's ability and thinks one day he'll follow the Crusader's path.
013 Detective Comics #25 - The issue refers to the Red Hood Gang, the storm, and the appearance of The Batman. Centering on Detective Gordon, Jim has to deal with a new Red Hood Gang derivative called The Black Mask while fighting Gotham PD politics, including those of his partner Francis Laney. He's captured and thrown off a bridge, but manages to survive. He shows up at the station an hour later and manages to hear an Internal Affairs Officer, Henshaw, making up a cover story about his disappearance. Gordon knocks Henshaw out, but is then at a standoff with Laney; it appears he's about to be arrested until he whips out files that implicate Henshaw, multiple GCPD officers, and Laney! Now that Francis has nothing to lose, his trigger finger is about to go off...that is, until Detective Bullock knocks him out from behind.
014 Green Arrow #25 - Happens during the Ridder's blackout and the storm, with all the chaos in Gotham coming to a head. Oliver returns to Seattle and showing his face to Emerson; he's then told that his mother head gone to Gotham City to help at a shelter in The Narrows during the storms. Taking a jet, Oliver heads to Gotham and tracks him mother during an encounter she has with a villain calling himself "Moth" or "Mothman". During the scene, Batman also shows up and the bad guy is taken down. After Batman leaves, Oliver's mom recognizes him and the two leave together.
015 Green Lantern Corps #25 - The storm is strong and there is flooding. John Stewart is a sergeant in the marines when his unit is sent to escort people out of the Gotham football coliseum. But instead of hundreds, there may be thousands. They attempt to instill an orderly exit, but one character called "Anarky" has full control of the location and is causing the people to rise against the military. John's group is captured, but they find an exit in the floor and attempt to escape.They're almost caught while below, but manage to gain a foothold with weapons. Eventually they work their way back to the top, take out the leader, and lead the people away.
016 Batgirl #25 - The blackout is in effect and the storm is pretty bad. Flooding is heavier now and more pervasive. Barbara Gordon attempts to hold her family together, but her dad has to head out and keep the peace. Forced to leave her home with her little brother, she goes through her dad's arsenal and "gears-up". They both end up in a warehouse, acting as a shelter, when a sinkhole caves in and threatens to drown them. In the midst of attempting to save themselves, a hero steps forth, "Henry", and helps them along until they have to jump across to another building. Suddenly, he decides to cut bait, steal their stuff, and leave them to die. Barbara immediately bares down and leaps across the roof and onto him. They fight and he falls into the water. She then helps get the people across. The people then witness explosions at ACE chemicals and multiple blimps heading in that direction.
017 Action Comics #25 - Riddler has already blacked-out the city and a category five hurricane is headed for Gotham City. Clark Kent ponders whether he is a hero or a bully and decides to go to the Gotham City harbor and stop a huge hurricane threatening the city. He never meets Batman, but manages to save some vessels, and Lana Lang, without revealing his identity.
The Zero Year Checklist
Action Comics #25
Batman Annual #2
Birds of Prey #25
Detective Comics #25
Green Arrow #25
Green Lantern Corps #25
Red Hood and The Outlaws #25
This is the Batman #0 cover. Part of the September 2013 "Zero" month, it provides a backdrop of Bruce Wayne's past with intros to Batgirl and all the Robins.
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