Bruce trains with Shihan Matsuda, a warrior monk of the himalayas, to take that necessary step to becoming the perfect warrior he needs to be to complete his mission. While there he struggles between banishing all light from him, or accepting it as a part of his whole. When his master is murdered by the girl Bruce had been developing feelings for his path is set.
In the second story Alfred fights against attempts from the Kanes to take over the Wayne fortune. He chases one of their representatives away, just before Bruce returns home with a plan.
The best part about the main Bat Book Issue Zeros is that together they tell a mostly complete story. They tell the entire story of Bruce’s past and training. Overall it all ties together nicely, and while the horse is still dead during this entire rehash of Batman’s past, I like the complete picture I’m given after having read all of them.
Again the biggest downside is that none of these stories actually have a bearing on the ongoing events in the main continuity. As such the month these came out felt very much like a filler month. The fact that it took so long for me to get around to reviewing these is all the proof we need that unless we continue the ongoing story my attention span is easily lost.
While the ending is somewhat predictable, with the girl Mio we at least knew that she wouldn’t last past this story. After all, we already know she isn’t part of his life. What matters more is the effect this had on Bruce’s personality. The very last page, where Bruce’s eyes are shown to be those of Batman is a nice artistic motif. It only happens one other time, at the very beginning of the story. From that point on his eyes are either visible, or in shadow.
They are in shadow when he is being trained to abandon his humanity, and visible when he is being presented with the alternative of embracing his humanity. At the beginning of the story the two were still in balance, Bruce having not been face by the decision yet. Throughout the story his eyes reflect what force is influencing him. And by the end we can see by his eyes that he has fully transformed into the Dark Knight.
The backup story was good in its own rights. Alfred standing up against Shaw was satisfying. The only other important part of this story was seeing Bruce with a beard. We need more bearded Batman.