Writer: John Layman
Artist: Jason Fabok
This has been a very strong series since John Layman and Jason Fabok took over as the creative team way back in issue 13 and with the announcement that they'll soon be leaving the series I'm slightly disheartened (even though it's a good team that's replacing them). It is however nice to see them have a Zero Year tie-in not long before they leave, and with the solicit it could turn out to be one of the best tie-ins.
James Gordon investigates a series of robberies/murders by the Black Mask gang, but soon finds out that half the Gotham City Police Department are on Roman Sionis' payroll.
This was a fantastic issue and a terrific tie-in to Zero Year. John Layman once again produces a dramatic story with a lot of excitement and suspense, and with Batman only having a briefest appearance. Layman would also do a great job with the structuring and flow of this story, and I really enjoyed how he narrated the issue, and how Gordon would be the main focus throughout the entire issue. I could however not help but notice some similarities to the recent Batman: Arkham Origins video game, with Black Mask making an appearance in both as well as holographic crime scenes being mentioned in both. Now this could easily just be a coincidence, and even besides that the story would still be very exciting in it's own rights.
The artwork on this issue would also once again be amazing with Jason Fabok doing a spectacular job. The detail in Fabok's art would also be outstanding, and as usual would be very consistent throughout, and if there were any imperfection, they weren't easy to spot. The layout of Fabok's art would also once again add a lot of depth to the issue, as although they aren't as unique as some of the other artists that work for DC, they'd do a brilliant job of adding more drama and suspense. On top of that Fabok would also handle the action and emotion throughout this issue very well, as although there'd be the odd awkward facial expression, the action would be very exciting and explosive.
This issue would centre round Commissioner James Gordon who was only a Captain at the time. Now Gordon has been one of the most well known side characters in Batman over the years, and when you take away the villains as well Bat Family itself he is the most well known character left, so having him as the key character in this story was amazing. What would make this even better is the fact that this is set during the early years when the GCPD aren't working with Batman, as although we see Gordon share some of the same views as Batman it is clear that he's still seen as a criminal. We'd also see the determination that Gordon's always had, and it's no wonder he became Commissioner.
We'd also see a well known Batman villain in this story in the form of Roman Sionis, who's better known as the Black Mask. He'd also have his own gang known as the Black Mask Gang and would be at the centre of Gordon's investigation. Now I've already mentioned the connection between this and the Batman: Arkham Origins video game so won't say any more about that, but the addition of Sionis and his gang was a very interesting one, as although the similarities to the recent Red Hood Gang makes it feel slightly less creative, it would still make the issue very exciting, and shows a possible future for Black Mask.
Another thing that would be shown throughout this issue would be the corruption of the GCPD during that time period, something which I was very interested in seeing. I especially loved how this would make you question who out of the cops that were featured in the issue were crooked and who wasn't, as although there were some that were fairly obvious, there'd be a couple that'd be more questionable. I also liked how this would give yet another dimension to the story, as well as another sub-plot, with Gordon's reaction to this being very interesting as well.
This was an amazing Zero Year tie-in as well as an outstanding James Gordon story. It would have a lot of drama and suspense, also being very exciting as well. It would also have a lot of depth as well, with some very intense sequences. Due to all this I'd highly recommend this issue, as although there haven't been many Zero Year tie-ins so far, this is one of the best so far.