As the poster character for DC Comics, Batman is no stranger to crossovers by now. His forays into areas foreign to him are typically eased by the fact he’s at least still in some setting he’s familiar with—villains, devious plots, people to save, and related concepts make him feel at home—but the Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point crossover puts a tricky spin on that formula. Batman is completely out of his element in Fortnite’s world, a setup which yields some smart perspectives on the battle royale formula and works well for all parties involved, for the most part.
After smartly speeding through the introductions in the first issue to get right into the battle royale action, Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #2 kicks off Batman’s time trap, his endless battle royale loop where he wages war against the Fortnite island’s inhabitants. Few are familiar with him while most would look just as absurd to Batman as they would to someone who isn’t familiar with Fortnite. Amid these fateful encounters throughout endless cycles, Batman puts his analytical mind to work to silently crack the puzzle alongside Catwoman after the two reach a truce.
It’s through Batman’s goggles that we get to see that absurdity so clearly, to see how preposterous the battle royale formula—specifically Fortnite’s—appears from an outsider’s perspective. Despite his best efforts, Batman’s detective skills struggle to comprehend the concepts of death storms, sole survivors, and respawns. That’s before you even factor in the sentient teddy bears, giant cat people, and the other beings Fortnite houses which make up writhing masses of chaos whenever fights break out where each character looks more outlandish than the last. There’s a bit of crossover inception at play that provides the perfect dose of humor a story like this needs along with the sly, satisfying feeling you get when you watch someone try to decipher a puzzle you’ve already got figured out.
Positioning Batman as a newcomer to Fortnite makes the story accessible to even those who aren’t well-versed in the game or battle royales, but for those who do know their way around, there’s a very meta gaming element to Zero Point likely made possible by the involvement of Epic Games’ Donald Mustard and others who understand the inner workings of the genre. Batman begins his Fortnite journey as a newbie, alone and going off notes he’s caught here and there. It's very much reminiscent of someone who’s seen bits of advice scattered online before trying to implement them without the know-how needed to do so. After attempting to third-party a fight, he finds himself a duo partner through Catwoman, and though the two don’t truly know each other at the time and only have a base understanding of how the game works, they partner up to learn together. Their experience eventually leads to the pair planning out their map rotations and making sacrifices for each other to ensure one of them “wins” if nothing else. Whether intentional or not (and I’d like to think it was), it’s an endearing take on the idea of collaboration found in chance encounters with fellow players.
Catwoman’s attire changes throughout the second issue in what appears to be a clever nod to how skins can be swapped out each match to change up a character’s looks. Batman, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn are stylistically integrated well with their fellow Fortnite combatants, but at the risk of sounding prudish over a Batman/Fortnite mash-up, Catwoman looks a bit out of place at times. It’s understandable to see Catwoman fuel Batman’s desires to break the cycle beyond serving his own interests, and his concern for her is evident, but it’s similarly hard not to notice how Catwoman seems to progressively lose more of her outfit each cycle. Batman takes his fair share of beatings himself, but he miraculously only loses a sleeve each time. Catwoman’s also often depicted as someone needing rescuing despite her tough tendencies. Perhaps this all gives us some insights into the mind of someone who feels like they’re constantly carrying their duo partner even when both are putting in similar levels of effort.
Co-op dynamics aside, the second issue unsurprisingly leaves us with Batman still trapped in Fortnite’s grip with more work to done before escape is imminent. Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point seems to have found its footing in its second issue and sets up a framework that could house many kinds of contained, one-issue stories even if its depiction of certain characters feels misplaced at times. It’s a faithful analog to battle royale experiences that works on multiple levels, and from its first two issues, it seems as though it has more potential ready to be realized.
Published by DC Comics
On May 4, 2021
Written by Christos N. Gage
Art by Reilly Brown and Nelson Faro DeCastro
Colors by John Kalisz0comments
Letters by Andworld Design
Cover by Mikel Janín