DC Comics’ “New 52” initiative is a twist on the superheroes audiences know and love. However, one unfamiliar superhero is released in “Batwing Issue Zero.”
Batwing was a character created before the “New 52” in Grant Morrison’s 2010-11 series “Batman Inc.,” a series where Bruce Wayne tells the world he has funded Batman since he began fighting crime and is now going on an international tour to recruit other masked vigilantes to reign as “Batman” across the globe. “Batman Inc.” ended once the “New 52” began.
“Batwing Issue Zero” is an expansion on one of the recruits of Batman Inc., David Zavimbe, a police officer working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Zavimbe’s past includes the death of his parents from AIDS and his abduction by the fictional Army of the Dawn to become a child soldier. This issue covers what happened to Zavimbe after he escaped the Army of the Dawn and went to a boy’s home for child victims of warlords.
The first three pages show Zavimbe having a dogmatic sense of justice. He beats the other boys in the orphanage to a bloody pulp because the beatings of local town girls remind him of the crimes and senseless killings he was forced to commit as a soldier in his warlord’s regime.
The story then skips forward, showing Zavimbe joining the police force. He becomes sickened at the corruption in the force when he sees officers secretly taking bribes from criminals. His extreme sense of justice, combined with an attack on his former caretaker’s home, prompts Zavimbe to become a masked vigilante. Zavimbe is ultimately greeted by Batman, who offers him a position in Batman Inc., as well as a new, high-tech batsuit.
Writer Judd Winick encompasses not only a strong backstory, but also draws parallels with Bruce Wayne’s own beginnings as Batman, evoking familiarity but also enough change to create a new story.
The only negative aspect of Winick’s storytelling is that he makes it hard for new readers to jump into the comic. While “Zero Month” for DC implies that readers have read the previous 12 issues, it still can be difficult for a new reader of the series to pick up on some of the topics covered, such as Zavimbe’s time as a child soldier.
Artist Marcus To makes the art of “Batwing” his own through the distinctive facial expressions of rage he draws on Zavimbe as he explodes with anger over the depravity in the Congo. To’s fighting sequences are realistic and well choreographed. They display Zavimbe’s tenacity as well as his timely reflexes as he fights meta-humans, genetically altered humans that have superpowers, which dwarfs Zavimbe in size and strength.
Overall, “Batwing Issue Zero” displays great teamwork in artist and writer, and successfully expands on an up-and-coming centerpiece in the DC Comics Universe.