Batman’s origin has been told several times, with the most notable interpretations being Frank Miller’s Year One (1987), Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005), and the animated DVD adaptation of Miller’s masterpiece, Year One (2011). Well, it’s time to do it all over again.
Not that we’d ever mind.
Batman’s beginnings are back in time for Halloween, with two superstars easily separating themselves from the rest of current Bat-Pack: DC writer Scott Snyder — with his current Zero Year story arc — and the forthcoming Batman: Arkham Origins voice actor, Troy Baker.
Sure, the Arkham series’ newest Joker certainly has some ginormous clown feet to follow. After racing home for 4:30 every afternoon as a 12-year old superfan, you know, to not miss a batarang’s second of “Batman: The Animated Series”, The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite voice actor (read: AAA video game’s Mr. Go To) reflected on moments many of us could share: “I’d pause on the credits, having an epilepsy as I tried to read all the wavy lines from the recording of a VCR… The Joker is Mark Hamill — Luke Skywalker? No way it’s the same guy!”
And no way could the soon to be GOTY award-winning Booker & Joel ever play the Clown Prince of Crime. Those were our very many thoughts until one late Saturday night in New York City, where the jam-packed house at the Jacob Javits Center got to witness one of the coolest moments in Con history.
Drops mic, leaves building. There’s no doubt Troy Baker‘s high pitch scares like a reborn Hamillized Joker, with the tripping laughter of Cesar Romero, the sinister snarl of Jack Nicholson, and the tormented depth of Heath Ledger. Since Baker is playing the legendary supervillain at a time before all of those interpretations, there’s enough wiggle room to toy around with his youth. Despite the greatness of The Killing Joke monologue (after Baker proclaimed the Joker was “impossibly hard to wrangle”) and the goosebumps that ran down the back of the new Bruce Wayne, played by Roger Craig Smith (Assassin’s Creed), only time will tell on October 25th whether Troy’s take will perform like a greatest hit.
“I think this guy has a future in this business!”
I think Craig might be on to something. As far as the current crop of Bat-Comics, Scott Snyder’s demonic portrayal of a near faceless Mistah J had all the fixings of a classic interpretation, too.
After the shock and horror of “Death of a Family” (despite the fact no one really died, other than perhaps a bit of Batty’s soul), it’s not such a bad time to go over the original Red Hood One. The current Zero Year storyline — following an epic 43-page offering of Batman #24 this past week — will soon takeover a wide line of DC titles. This gives the company an opportunity to ever-so-ironically coincide with the release of the Arkham Origins video game. There’s bound to be a batload of stories further exploring the early darkness of Gotham.
Thankfully, Scott Snyder had the grapefruits to tell this one.
“[Zero Year] is the most favorite thing I have written ever. At first, I wanted to keep Year One. Despite any doubts, I knew there was a modern version of [Snyder and artist-pal Greg Capullo’s] own that had all the kinds of fears we have today, with modern terrorists. I had never been so exhilarated and depressed writing a story before, with this fear of [Frank Miller’s] Year One.”
I’m sure Snyder and Capullo were just as fearful of how their fans would react to this new, wild military-style biker Bats. The sunglasses-donned artist reflected those very biker characteristics with the voice of a gracious Artie Lang. “I’m lucky and honored to draw the Batman origin, despite the ungodly hours to keep deadlines. DC cuts the checks, but I really feel like I’m working for all of you.”
Snyder would roll on the Zero Year panel his usual candid self, spoiling everything from November 13’s Batman #25 and Beyond. “We’ve never changed the core of [the Batman origin], like Jim Gordon shooting [Bruce’s] parents. There’ll for a stronger bond through the mystery of who Gordon is, why he dresses the way he did, etc. There’s a big mystery about what happened on the night his parents were killed in Crime Alley, and Gordon is really at the center of it.”
After hinting at some Poison Ivy and homages to all things Batman that include blimps from “The Animated Series”, Capullo attempts to close his scribe pal’s mouth. “I love when he gives me those panels.”
This early discombobulated dynamic between the Batman and Gordon will also take heavy precedence in Arkham Origins, with Creative Director Eric Holmes shedding more light on this classic relationship: “Spoiler alert: James Gordon and Batman are going to be friends. Of course, we’re going to show you in our story how that changes. What’s good about the prequel is we’re not [just] telling a Batman origin story; we’re telling the origin of the Arkham games. It’s all about lineage.”
And, perhaps for a moment, only a tiny little moment, that lineage would now include the rest of DC. Hello Superman!
No, that surprise turned out to be… this guy…
Hmmm… so Electro gets to kick the crap out of both Batman and Spider-Man (hello, Jamie). Not quite the rattling surprise of Baker’s frightening monologue, Snyder’s Batman #25 reveals, or even the differing, more youthful interpretation of Origins’ Bane, but the NYCC crowd roared with applause anyway. The good news about the Electrocutioner‘s inclusion into the game, besides getting the voice of Steve Blume, is the whole classic Mega Man scenario: beat the villain, gain his gadget.
And only a young Master Bruce knows those new shock claws are going to go quite handy.
- NetherRealm producer Erin Pierperderdis was present for the Arkham panel to announce and showcase the new Batman: Arkham Origins game for the mobile platforms. The game will play more like an arcade Injustice: Gods Among Us one-on-one fighter — the mobile game the studio is known for — with cool, new Batsuits (i.e. Red Son, Gotham to Gaslight, and Batman Beyond) that are not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also key to getting an advantage in particular environments. The mobile Arkham Origins will be released for both iOS and Android.
- The future of Zero Year will contain three sections: “Secret City” (Riddler’s blacking out), “Dark City” (broken bones) and “Wild City” (reborn). The future of Stephanie Brown…exhists. The former Spoiler/Robin/Batgirl will make her return in Batman: Eternal, a new weekly series that will “crack all the weird corners of Gotham.” The “biggest, nuttiest game-changing stuff” — for the looming 75th anniversary of Batman — will be overseen and co-written by Snyder, with contributions from Talon scribe James Tynion IV, Detective Comics teammates John Layman and Jason Fabok, Tim Seeley (Killer Croc #1), and Ray Fawkes (Justice League Dark).
- Other intriguing Zero Year titles included an upcoming Batman and Two-Face (the Monsignor’s personal favorite villain), where readers will explore why Harvey Dent sleeps with that one crazy eye wide open, in addition to the district attorney’s origins as the manic coin-flipper; and the hopeful continued excellence of Batwoman, written by former Manhunter scribe Marc Andreyko. And the longtime “Tournament of Nerds” judge will be searching for what you’re saying on the internet in the coming months. Believe that.