Batman (vol 4): Zero Year - Secret City - Scott Snyder

I know, I know, I keep saying I'm never going to read another Snyder book about the vigilante Batman. On the plus side, this is the best of his works I've ever read. He doesn't make the mistakes of the past such as the nonsensical plot line of the Court of Owls, or the ludicrous Joker story, but simply attempts to tell a straightforward story of Batman fighting against a gang. Here's where the problems are. Just as an aside, the introduction of this volume didn't make any sense to me: it takes place six years ago in what is clearly the future, to only then say five months earlier (then the six years or today?); in any event it has no value to the story proper. I don't understand the purpose of making this a Batman begins story; it is so clear that Frank Miller did a much better job telling the definitive version that this story is so obviously beholden to it, and quite frankly this story is much weaker than that one. I didn't mind that Batman is up against the Red Hood, spoiler alert, he becomes the Joker, just not in this comic, but it is a little too silly: Red Hood has literally hundreds of people (how he magically keeps track of everyone even though they are all dressed exactly the same and masked is ridiculous) blackmailed or otherwise convinced into doing his bidding, so it seems pretty straightforward that anything he wants to get away with he could simply have one of his cronies do it (e.g., rather than have a gang steal something, a blackmailed individual can simply give him what he wanted, which does take place at times), but this is the Joker we're talking about so I suppose it's acceptable. Batman talks far too much to the point of pure irritation on my part (and Bruce makes a really boring speech at one point (and what's with the crewcut?)), and has no real personality: there's no pathos with this character, his successes and failures do not seem to mean much, and if someone he loves dies he will forget about it a frame later. By the way, never have a verbal password that is just a different spelling of your own name, someone will say that word inadvertently and set off that event, which is why no one would ever do such a thing. And why would someone go through so much trouble to blow up a house, assume the person inside it was alive, and then go into the house (risking their lives) to finish him off, only to leave without checking? Anyway, I'm going on for too long and my nitpicking is presented somewhat randomly here. The point is that this wasn't a bad comic, I'd give it a C which is passing and satisfactory, but I wouldn't give it the praise and adoration everyone is giving the series. The dialogue, plot, and action is just not stupendous and I think Snyder needs a strong editor to help him make his works makes sense and simply be better. Maybe if people praise him a lot less he'd actually become a good storyteller. As for now, I guess the public wants mediocrity. zero year