There are two stories in this issue. The first features a young Bruce Wayne, before he adopted his Batman persona, training himself against Gotham’s scum by infiltrating the Red Hood gang. He slips up for not doing enough research on them, and the gang turns on him.
He manages to slip away, and make it to his Brownstone hideout, where he has his base of operations established. Alfred tries to talk him out of his crusade, but Bruce is adamant, and refuses to listen to Alfred.
While he is training with his boomerang on the roof, Gordon visits him, trying to get information about the current CEO of Wayne Enterprises, Philip Kane. He asks if Bruce has heard anything about the vigilante that’s running around the area. After Gordon leaves, the Red Hood gang arrives to blow the building up.
The second story is four vignettes, featuring three of the Robins, and Barbara, each living their lives before they came in contact with Batman. The story ties these three vignettes together by means of the Bat Signal being turned on for the first time.
The main story was a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing the early years of New 52 Bruce, in that period right before he actually becomes Batman. The one complain I have is that this isn’t a self contained story. I’m all for a longer story, especially one that interests me, but I have no idea what book the story will be continuing in. That’s a minor downside though, overall I was pleased with the main story.
Greg Capullo does a great job making Bruce look young, and the expression on Bruce’s face at all times speaks wonders. This is a Bruce before years of war taught him all his lessons, there’s a sense of petulance, of immaturity to this Bruce Wayne. At this point in his career it seems very much that in his mind he still intends to fight this crusade for revenge. Suggesting that his motivation to fight crime so that no one else has to suffer what he did does not come until later.
The secondary story is pretty great. I love seeing all three Robins in the same story, it helps to be able to see them in their respective situations, as this helps give us a sense of perspective for their different personalities. My one complaint would be that they seem a bit too close in age, so there is a bit of confusion in the timeline, but that’s been a constant complaint of mine.
Honestly I think that we could have gotten a complete story if only one story had been printed this issue, but for what we got I enjoyed it. The backup story was enjoyable, if perhaps a little on the long side. It may be short, but for what it accomplishes they probably could have exised a page or two.