In this special issue, we’re treated to another “before New 52” story detailing events that happened before DC’s companywide relaunch of their classic titles. This issue, we get a look at a young Bruce Wayne and a portion of his training in the Himalayas on his path to become Batman.
As the story begins, Bruce has climbed to a remote facility hidden somewhere in the Himalayas. He knocks on the door and asks for a man called Shihan Matsuda. The old lady who answers the door tells him that Shihan is a myth and that there is no one there by that name. She then promptly slams the door in Bruce’s face. Rather than walking away, Bruce sits in the snow outside the door for what appears to be several days. Then Shihan opens the door and let’s Bruce inside.
The rest of the issue follows Bruce as he learns new fighting techniques and, more importantly, many Buddhist skills like how to control his breathing and body temperature at will. As he trains, Bruce finds himself in a moral predicament. He begins to fall for a local girl who works at the market where Bruce is often sent to get supplies and food for Shihan.
However, Shihan continuously drills into Bruce the importance of never making any connection with other people. He says that love and compassion for others only leads to weakness and doom. But, when Shihan isn’t around, the old woman who lives with him tells Bruce not to let himself become cold and disconnected as Shihan has. In the end, Bruce must make a decision between love and darkness that will change his world forever.
Gregg Hurwitz has given us a great Batman tale that never once actually shows us Batman. The moral story and the Asian setting remind me very much of some of the classic Wolverine tales in which Logan visited Japan and found love. Rather than being derivative, this Batman tale is sure to be one for the ages.
There’s also a backup tale, written by Hurwitz as well, that gives us a look at what Alfred was doing while Bruce was away on his seven years of training. Not much really happens in this story but it does give us some idea how loyal Alfred was in his determined faith that his master and surrogate son would eventually return.
This was a great issue, especially that first story, and makes me yearn for more tales of Bruce Wayne’s training years. Maybe WB made a mistake when they passed on that idea for a show to replace ‘Smallville’ because, after this issue, I’d definitely give a show like that a shot.
DETECTIVE COMICS #0
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Art and Cover by Tony S. Daniel & Richard Friend
Backup Art by Szymon Kudranski