The score you see for Batman Zero Year: The Director’s Cut #1 is the same score from Batman #21. Coming up with a grade for a regular comic book is already bothersome enough so I took the easy route on this special edition.
Batman Zero Year: The Director’s Cut #1 is a reprint of Batman #21, the first chapter in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Zero Year saga. However, it’s not really a director’s cut at all. In fact, a more appropriate name might be “rough cut.” What you get in this issue is actually not some extended edition but a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a comic book.
The first half of the Director’s Cut includes the original issue #21 but without Miki’s inks or FCO’s colors. It’s purely Greg Capullo’s pencils. I recommend getting out your copy of the complete final draft of #21 and examining the two works side-by-side. You’ll gain not only a greater appreciation and understanding of Capullo’s work but by seeing what the panels look like with the inks and colors stripped away you’ll have a better grasp of Miki and FCO’s contributions as well. You may find that some panels were changed for the better and cleaned up while others lost some special something. It’s great to compare and contrast what details are accentuated or masked in the inking or coloring process. Something else that I found enjoyable about the early pencils were the notes to FCO that pointed out exactly the kind of color that Capullo wanted for an object or a request for an effect like a “cloud of blood” to burst from a speared fish.
The backup story is also included with Rafael Albuquerque’s original artwork sanz color. Albuquerque did the inks himself and those are left intact and I must say that it got me wondering if maybe the back-up flashback stories to Bruce’s training might have worked even better without color.
The second half of the comic is Scott Snyder’s first draft which begins with a letter to his art team, a mission statement. In this letter he describes Zero Year as the Anti-Year One and acknowledges how they can’t possibly hope to top Frank Miller’s work if they play the game the same way and that they will approach the origin story from a different angle entirely. Whether or not this is going to work out for them is yet to be seen but I know I’m enjoying it at the moment. I just have my doubts about Zero Year possibly being a re-imagining of No Man’s Land, but it’s all too soon to say.
Reading the first draft of the script and comparing it to the final product does show a number of differences but nothing earth-shattering. Typically these differences are in the dialogue but rather than having a character’s lines cut down they are actually expanded from the first to the final draft into much larger balloons. But I think the things readers will find most exciting about the script is seeing how Snyder constructs his script and the occasional hints at chapters to come. Snyder’s language is very casual throughout and his style is quite simple with plenty of room for his artists to interpret things in their own way. There are numerous messages that address Capullo directly and show a willingness to compromise and often times Snyder will simply ask for the imagery to be “badass” and he leaves Capullo to his own devices.
What I found the most interesting about the script though was all of the REDACTED sections. It’s evident that Snyder does indeed have an endgame planned for this story and he’s planting all kinds of hints throughout the first chapter. There are several instances where character names and descriptions of upcoming scenes are torn out of the script so as not to spoil upcoming issues. Still I think I have an even better understanding of this comic for having read the script. For instance, I now know that the cap Bruce and his dad wear is for the “Gotham Raiders” and that the most difficult to decipher image from the Back Card page with 3 extreme-close-up images is of a finger bone pointing to a brick wall.
Lastly, there are ads and I found that annoying. For a reprint of a book that came out 2 months ago I would have preferred there be no ads at all since readers are being asked to pay $6 for this comic!
If you didn’t like Batman #21 then don’t bother. If you’re looking to read Zero Year for the first time then try to find the original copy of Batman #21 with completed inks and colors that’s available for a more affordable price. As for everyone else, I think that if you loved the first chapter of Zero Year and have an interest in the craft of comic book making then you’ll find the $6 price worth it. I want to be clear that this doesn’t follow the typical definition of a “Director’s Cut.” It’s not an extended edition but a behind the scenes look! This is a fun glance behind the curtain at the work of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo that I think would make a terrific resource for writers and artists hoping to make their own comic one day.