At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Epic Games’ insanely popular battle-royale game Fortnite takes the title of “the most ambitious crossover event in history”. In the past year alone, the game has featured Aquaman, Master Chief, Kratos, Lara Croft, the Mandalorian, the Terminator, and the Predator. Not to mention an entire three month season devoted to the Marvel Universe, culminating in a confrontation with GALACTUS (!!!) that led directly into the next season, the titular Zero Point.
If you’ve only gained knowledge of Fortnite through cultural osmosis of various related memes / controversies, it’s basically the video game equivalent of that game you’d play as a kid, taking all your action figures out and having them fight until one is left standing. There’s just a lot more guns and looting this time around.
As an extension of Fortnite’s ongoing story, Epic Games has teamed up with DC to bring us a six-issue series where Batman finds himself on the mysterious island of the game. The twist is that he’s completely forgotten who he is and he cannot speak, relying only on his combat training and detective skills to survive, and presumably do a cool dance when he gets a Victory Royale.
The script by Christos Gage (Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4) and concept by Donald Mustard (CCO at Epic Games) lean generously into the Batman half of this team-up. As it stands for this first issue, the game serves as a setting as opposed to having Batman team up with Jonesy, Fishstick, Peely (RIP), or any other member of the Fortnite cast. The premise is straightforward, but that makes it very accessible to readers who may have never played Fortnite for themselves. Batman acts as an audience surrogate, discovering the game’s wacky original characters and the storm phenomenon in the same way a new player might.
The process of bringing Gotham to the Island is made to seem effortless by the Zero Point art team. Penciller Reilly Brown renders the intense, and often chaotic, firefights of Fortnite with a great sense of clarity while remaining faithful to Batman’s calculating fighting style. There’s a particular sequence where Batman is standing on the hood of a car only to catch a sniper out of the corner of his eye. Dodging the sniper’s bullets, Bats rolls down a cliff only to land in the middle of an even bigger brawl. It’s not a far cry from the way battles unfold in the game itself.
This sequence also allows inker Nelson Faro DeCastro and colorist John Kalisz to flex their skills. With the sun setting on the island, it casts dark shadows on Batman to give him that iconic look, while also making the skies and landscapes pop against his semi-silhouette. The same goes for this issue’s surprisingly emotional final moments. With the storm closing in on Batman and Catwoman, there’s a moment of quiet amidst the chaos of the purple tempest surrounding them.
Much like a game of Fortnite, the tension in this issue starts to ratchet up right as the book comes to a close. Rarely do I feel that the “To Be Continued” comes too soon, but that’s the case here. I’m left feeling like I want to ready up for another round and ask, “where we droppin’ Bats?” It’s a surprising feeling to have for a crossover comic, which can often feel like a cash-in or supplemental material. You can tell, on every page, the team is committed to merging the two franchises, while still maintaining what makes each of them feel special on their own.
Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #1 is an accessible entry into the ever-expanding world of the battle-royale game. You don’t need to know what Chug Jug is or how to crank 90s to have a good time here. It’s simply a fun and great looking crossover comic that left me excited to find out what happens next.
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