Batman Zero: 17 Years Later

With yet another big budget reimagining of The Batman hitting theaters soon, it got me to thinkin’ about my history with the character. The file cabinet that is my mind popped out an idea I had at least 17 years ago. Reimagining characters is a favorite pastime of mine, and I recall furiously drawing a version of Batman in my downtime back in high school. 

The idea being a Batman with no money. Hence my title Batman: Zero. If you take away the riches, does Bruce Wayne still become Batman? And how?

Here’s what all the text says in the pic:

The Waynes were mere paupers, like many of Gotham’s citizens, when they were murdered behind the Monarch theater. Their son, Bruce, was spared from the attack. In the time it took for the police to arrive, Bruce was left alone at the scene. The faint sounds of the “Dracula” film echoing through the theater’s brick walls. The guilt washing over the boy.  His persistence of seeing “Dracula” on the big screen despite his father’s warnings. The realization that his father was right as fear began to overtake young Bruce when seeing Dracula transform into a vampire bat. Which led to Bruce begging to leave. Taking the back exit. And now being here. Alone. 

The silent vow Bruce made in that alleyway as the police tried to comfort him. That this will not happen to anyone else. That the fear and helplessness he feels will no longer be for the innocent. That the guilty shall feel it too. And he shall inflict it. 

Being raised by his Uncle Al in his auto garage, Bruce learns through strict discipline and determination that his war on Gotham’s crime will never end. And, now as a young man, he claims the night as the very symbol of fear that changed his life all those years ago. His intention being that cowardly criminals, like the one that stole his parents, will now share his fear as well. 

The core of the character is the same but the path is sorta flip flopped upside down. What I love about Batman is he’s, essentially, crazy. This young adult was violently orphaned and traumatized in his youth. Stuck in this hopeless crime ridden city. Being raised by his “Uncle” Al in his auto garage. Learning the tools of the trade. And wandering through life aimless. Using Gotham to learn what he can. But not knowing what he’s building to. Crudely cobbling together a suit inspired by the “Dracula” film that haunts him. Popping in vampire fangs to make criminals believe he’s something “more”. Constructing a “Batmobile” out of spare parts. And turning out to be a dark symbol of hope.

Maybe this is why I didn’t get dates back then. 

The irony of all this is, back then, it was a pipe dream I’d simply do for fun. These “reimagining”. And it’s been sooo long since I’ve revisited this idea, after doing some research, I found out that many Batman stories similar to his have been written in those 17 years. One even called Batman: Year Zero. So I mainly did this for posterity. To cement this idea I daydreamed about when I was a kid in study hall. But it’s nice to know that, even at that age, my mind was on the right track. 

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