DC Comics: Zero Year is meant to be something of a starting point for various characters in the DC Universe, showing Superman, Batman, and Catwoman in the early days, if not the start, of their superhero careers. The book also shows Dinah Lance, Barry Allen, Jason Todd, Dick Grayson, John Stewart, and Oliver Queen either before they started superheroing or, in the case of Barry and John, before they got their powers.
On paper, this is a pretty good concept – to show in the New 52 continuity where this version of these characters is coming from. The problem is they don’t put these characters in their home cities over the course of that year. Instead, the central focus on the story is on the response to a Hurricane Katrina-level superstorm which is bearing down on Gotham – and just Gotham. Consequently, all the heroes in this story are shown being in Gotham on the same few nights.
The problem is that Katrina didn’t just hit New Orleans, nor did Hurricane Sandy just hit New York City. Sandy went far enough inland to do damage in Toronto. Now, it makes sense to have the Bat-book characters – Batman, Catwoman, Jason Todd, and Dick Grayson, all in Gotham. It’s also not unreasonable to have the storm his both Gotham and Metropolis. Similarly, John Stewart is set up as being in the National Guard, so you can drop him pretty much in either location.
However, putting everyone, and everything, in Gotham and only in Gotham doesn’t make the DC Universe seem big – quite the opposite. Getting all these otherwise unaffiliated-to-Gotham characters here at best feels contrived – especially the characters like Barry Allen who aren’t superheroes – they’re forensic criminologists. We don’t even have the lightning strike that gave Barry his powers attached to this.
If the “Zero Year”, which had been set up in various books had just been a bad year for hurricanes and other storms, with the whole Eastern Seaboard being badly hit and with each characters’ story being set further and further into the season, as emergency resourced stretched thin – then the story would feel right as a titular “Zero Year” for the rise of superheroes. People like Superman, Batman, Green Arrow and (if you put them getting their powers during this year) – The Flash and Green Lantern could absolutely be needed as superheroes during this period, as emergency services across the country get spread thin with the reactions to all the disasters.
It would even give more weight to the initial formation of the Justice League. But we don’t get that. We get everyone shoved together in Gotham, reacting to the events of the same few days, but generally never meeting (except maybe for Batman in a few instances). It’s a lot of missed opportunities that don’t really add up to much – especially for something that you’re calling “Zero Year”.
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