The Snyder/Capullo run on this title has been marked primarily by big event storylines: “The Court of/City of the Owls,” “Death of the Family,” and “Zero Year.” It hasn’t left much room for shorter stories, but this volume collects all of the miscellany that has accumulated between these arcs. Worth noting right up front is that even though Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s names are on the cover, they’re only directly responsible for three of the issues collected here. “Bright New Yesterday” acts as a prologue to “Zero Year” as we witness Bruce Wayne’s attempt to infiltrate the Red Hood Gang and his first encounter with Commissioner Gordon. It adds some nice context, and further establishes the villainous credentials of the Gang’s leader, but is hardly essential reading to enjoy the rest of the storyline. “Nowhere Man” has the creators putting their own spin on another of Batman’s more noteworthy villains as Bruce Wayne apparently embarks on a crime spree in broad daylight. Still struggling with the death of his son Damian, Batman has to work through his grief to figure out what’s going on here. It’s a fun action caper that hits all the right notes for a “Batman” story while making the sentiment towards Damian’s passing feel particularly heartfelt… Even if the character is back now. With superpowers!
Everything else in this volume is a mix of various writers and artists, with Snyder at least having a story credit in most of them. There’s another story about how Batman responds to Damian’s death with impressive art by Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev. Maleev also illustrates a story from James Tynion IV featuring a Batman/Superman team up against a demonic foe. Tynion also gives us stories about what the three original Robins were up to prior to meeting Batman, and a tie-in to the “Gotham Eternal” series that may come off as a little confusing to anyone who hasn’t read at least the first volume of that title. A couple of Rick Remender’s favored collaborators, “Deadly Class’” Wes Craig and “Black Science’s” Matteo Scalera, illustrate stories about Batman encountering a scientific nightmare as he volunteers to test Arkham’s security, and his efforts to stop a serial killer targeting Gotham’s forgotten inhabitants. Those two come to us from Marguerite Bennett and Gerry Duggan, respectively, and a par for the course in this volume. Enjoyable yet unexceptional. Even if this volume is “one for the completists,” the odds are they’ll still be satisfied by the stories being told here and the wide variety of artistic styles to appreciate as well.