Batman 28

Batman 28

Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Batman 28, originally released February 12th, 2014.

Shelby: Serialized story-telling is a fickle mistress. There’s a lot of anguish to be had in waiting a month for the conclusion to a cliffhanger, sure, but it’s a sweet kind of anguish, especially when the story-telling is solid and the art is amazing. It can be frustrating, especially if you’re particularly impatient, but there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation as well. Unless, of course, you don’t get the next piece of the story as you were expecting; that’s the point when frustration can win out. Watch out, there be spoilers ahead.

This issue has nothing to do with Zero Year; it is, in fact, a sneak peek at Batman Eternal, the weekly series released this spring written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seely. With the setting given only as, “Gotham. Soon,” we’re off with our favorite Harper Row being taken into police custody after saying a secret password. Turns out, there’s one nightclub left in this very dystopian Gotham, and Harper desperately needs to see the kingpin so she can… spring the trap and fight at Batman’s side as Bluebird, the most bad-ass sidekick yet!

bluebird

Bat and Bird fight their way to the kingpin, who is none other than Selina Kyle. She and Bats fight about how things aren’t like they used to be, they’ve changed now, no she won’t give him the key to saving the city. Not until he asks nicely, anyway, so Selina takes them to the one person who can save Gotham:

spoiler

On any other day, I would have been completely thrilled with this issue. Batman Eternal has some real heavy-hitters working on it, and I’m intrigued by the relay race, handing-off-the-baton approach they’re taking with the story. I also really like a lot of what Snyder and Tynion gave us here. Catwoman as head of Gotham’s underground? Yes please. I love seeing her in this position of authority she’s earned for herself. Harper Row looking completely awesome and kicking ass? Double yes please. We finally see her don some version of the cape and cowl and show off how tough she really is. And her character design is AMAZING, Dustin Nguyen knocked it out of the park. I love her punk hair and jacket paired with futuristic body armor and high tech gadgets. Plus, even though I personally don’t care all that much about Steph Brown, I know there are a lot of fans who do, and I honestly think it’s great that Snyder and Tynion are bringing back a beloved character who is so important to so many fans. All in all, this issue gives us a great sneak peek at Eternal, and that peek is more than promising.

But we already knew that.

Look at the names on that book; was there ever any question it was going to be a super high quality work? There is absolutely no doubt I’ll be adding that title to my pull, and will probably love it. As fun as this intro to Eternal was, I was just really frustrated it wasn’t the next chapter of Zero Year. Frustrated enough that I enjoyed the book less than I would have otherwise. Timing-wise, I wish they could have waited one more issue, just finished this latest Zero Year arc, then given us the sneak peek, then continued on with the story. I’m sure my irritation with this issue was in no small part due to my being unaware of what was going to happen this month. I know, I know, how could I have not known this issue was a tie-in to Batman Eternal? I should have, but I didn’t, and I can’t have been the only one immensely confused by this issue. Just last month we talked about how Batman was finding its footing again, and now it’s derailed. Honestly, with all this whining from me, you’d think I have never read a comic or dealt at all with strange editorial decisions. Scott, help me out; remind me again of the exciting things coming up in Batman Eternal so I stop complaining about having to wait another month for my Zero Year fix.

Scott: I understand your frustration, Shelby. I, too, expected to be diving into a new chapter of Zero Year when I picked up this book (we’re really on top of things here at Retcon Punch, huh?), so I was quite surprised by this glimpse into Batman Eternal. It felt like I showed up for the Super Bowl and instead I got game 1 of the World Series- still pretty good, just not what I was expecting.

If you needed a reason to get excited for Batman Eternal, this issue ought to have done the trick. I can’t imagine a more crowd-pleasing teaser. I think most readers like Harper, but even those on the fence should be satisfied with her apparent role in the upcoming series. She isn’t the new Robin, she’s the equally unintimidating-sounding Bluebird. Her first appearance in costume — the top image Shelby shared above, where she’s emerging from the smoke — is the most triumphant arrival of a new superhero I’ve ever seen. She looks so cool! She even has Batman crouched down like a hype man, Flava Flav style! Seriously, did Nguyen base that page on this image?

Public Friend

I’m excited to see Harper has a prominent role in Eternal. She’s won me over in her sporadic appearances in Batman, but it was hard to see how she was going to work her way back into the story anytime soon. She’s a little too young to have anything to do with Zero Year.  It’s nice to know that she’s not only returning in the near future, but that she’s handling the sidekick role with aplomb, even making a bold first impression on Selina.

History Shmistory

Snyder has said that the reason for the bizarre publishing schedule is that he felt the need to expand the next chapter of Zero Year, which necessitated giving Greg Capullo more time to draw the extra pages. So instead of straight up filler, Snyder took the opportunity to drop us into the middle of the Batman Eternal timeline. It’s hard to put this issue in any sort of context, both because it’s part of a story that hasn’t begun yet and because it’s interrupting a Zero Year arc that takes place several years earlier. But between Harper as Bluebird, Catwoman as the kingpin, and Stephanie Brown as the key to it all, I have to wonder if this issue didn’t give away too many highlights from the upcoming weekly series. I’m certainly intrigued, but I might also feel more comfortable skipping a few weeks here and there with so much information already in hand.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

28 comments on “Batman 28

  1. I knew what this issue would be going in and I loved the story, but I was really let down by the art. It isn‘t that it‘s bad, but there are a few things that really bothered me. First, before she dons the costume, Harper looks to me like she‘s 12, whereas I was always under the impression that she‘s 15-17. Also, I know she‘s got a new hairdo, but there is literally not one panel where I recognize Selina. Again, the art isn‘t ugly but if she hadn‘t been named, I would never have guessed that that was Catwoman.

  2. Okay, so it looks like the world of Batman Eternal is going to be some dark, almost elseworld-esque shit. It’ll be interesting to see whether Gotham’s current state (and 8 o’clock curfew) is the result of the events of Forever Evil or something else entirely. Whatever the case, it all seems very specific to the Eternal story, and with Steph being the “key” to setting thing straight, you’ve got to wonder what message Snyder et. al are trying to send. Is the “what’s wrong” with Gotham really what’s wrong with the New 52? I don’t believe that Snyder has been stomping his feet, yelling “Where are Steph and Wally!?!?” But he’s already hit some weird roadblocks in his storytelling because of the new status quos (i.e., Death of the Family didn’t need to have a Joker missing his face)

      • I’m thinking the two are unrelated (and unrelated to Forever Evil). Trumpeting the return of Stephanie Brown only to reveal that it was actually an elseworlds story seems way to shitty for DC to pull (plus, aside from a few odd ducks from the multiverse, the New 52 hasn’t featured any elseworld stories.

        My understanding is that this is all going to fall out of events of the “present day” timeline of Gotham, which I suspect will begin when Batman Eternal kicks off in April. It sounds like some kind of infection (perhaps by bio-weapon, perhaps not) grips Gotham, and I think all of the changes we see here fall out of that. What I’m really curious about is just how far in the future is this? Are we talking a few months from the launch of Batman Eternal, or a few years? I think Harper has a long way to go before Bruce would be working with her in the field like this, but that would mean Steph fans have even longer to wait for her proper return. That may be tricky to navigate.

        • I read an interview where Snyder states #28 takes place between #39 and #40, so it’s a ways off in publication time but probably only a month or two in narrative time unless a big time jump is written in

      • I definitely don‘t think it can be in any way related to ZY, that takes place 6 years before present time; infection would have been a problem long before now. Also, I have a feeling that the so-called “big changes“ stemming from FE are the roster changes in the justive league.

    • While I think there is something else going on besides it, I still think much of the damage to Gotham probably stems from Forever Evil, which I actually LOVE cause I’ve been complaining for months that there’s no realistic way that Gotham could bounce back from what’s happened to it during Forever Evil and the Arkham War, and if this is the result of that, then I’m pretty thrilled that they’re not just going to gloss over all that damage.

      (Likewise, Selina’s kingpin role seems to stem from some big event that happened to her and Batman, and no doubt not coincidentally, her and Batman are fighting together against the Syndicate as we speak. Hm.)

      My bet’s on Carrie Kelly at the Bat-Computer as well. Honestly, as much as I’m worried about where Dick and Jason and Tim are, I’m REALLY loving Batman’s teen girl brigade he’s got going on. I think this issue accomplished its purpose–I am pretty excited for Batman Eternal. Dammit, DC.

      • So first DC revealed Dick’s secret identity and then made it sink into oblivion? Could you please explain me what’s going on with him? Here in Italy comics are published with a 10 months delay, so I would be very grateful if you could help me catching up. : )

        • I haven’t been following Forever Evil, but I don’t think we know what’s going to happen to Dick, either. The rest of DC’s publication line, including Nightwing is all allegedly still happening before Forever Evil, though I’m really hoping it ends with a Age of Ultron-esque loophole that makes the whole thing a dream or something, just so I don’t have to deal with the fallout of an event I don’t particularly care for.

  3. Hey, so who do we think was helping from the bat cave? It was apparently someone new to the gig. Cassie? Cullen? Zombie Damian? Let’s start the wild theories here.

      • Babs gets re-crippled to make way for Steph as Batgirl /not happening.

        For all my bitching about the art, I really liked the issue overall; Selina as the kingpin seemed super odd at fiirst but then, how many more stories do we need with Penguin/Black Mask/Two-Face taking over when Gotham goes to shit. I‘m super curious to see how this all comes about and what exactly Steph‘s role in all this is. Once again, I find myself hoping that whatever gets us to this point and back out again leaves some lasting effects for years to come; that everyone isn‘t simply going to slip back into their usual roles come the end of Batman Eternal.

      • When the news of Carrie Kelley being introduced in the New 52 universe came out, a lot of fan thought (and wished) that she was going to play an “Oraclesque” role, so, if your guess is right, a lot of readers will be very happy. : )

  4. I am super intrigued by the format these guys have going for BE. They’ve mapped out the big plot, and have set points to reach by certain issues. Each arc is going to be 3-4 issues long, and each arc will be written by someone different. It’s like an exquisite corpse drawing, but applied to an entire title; it should be a) awesome, b) a hot mess, or c) an awesome hot mess.

  5. I was confused for 4 pages. Then I said, “Screw it,” enjoyed the story, and accepted that I’m going to buy Batman Eternal. I’m dropping a couple things to make room for it (X-Men Legacy ended, All-New X-Factor was boring).

    I’m just pretending this wasn’t Batman and was Batman Eternal #0 or #-1 if they start at 0.

  6. Professor Pyg has been shown in the teaser for Batman: Eternal and he created “addictions you can catch” back when Grant Morrison first created the character and wrote him. I think he’s the reason for the infection in Gotham. In said teaser he’s conversing with Penguin and the solicits for Batman Eternal talk about a gang war in Gotham, so I’m wondering if Penguin unleashes hell on Gotham with help from Pyg in a bid to win the gang war, but it backfires and Gotham’s underworld gets taken by Selina instead. I’m also curious if Selina’s new role will have anything to do with her father possibly being Carmine Falcone, a possibility raised in post-crisis continuity plus the Arkham video games, but that hasn’t been mentioned in the New 52 world yet to my knowledge. Falcone does also appear in the teaser image.

    Overall, Batman Eternal seems like it could be a lot of fun. But I’m wondering how much it will actually focus on Batman himself. There’s so much hype going around about Batman’s various allies and supporting characters and their role in Eternal, that I worry it won’t celebrate Bats himself on his own anniversary. I also worry about the talk of Batman “leaving Selina to die” and losing his friends, the police, and his city because it evokes images of the early to mid ’00s for Batman in my mind, where he was a toxic bully that every other good guy hated. I’m not saying he should be a friendly, warm, soft presence most of the time, but I don’t want his place as a hero, at the end of the day, compromised. But I hope my fears are unfounded, because the actual plot seems like it could be really cool.

    • I think I would be totally comfortable with this series if it didn’t focus on Batman at all. Batman has several solo titles, but there isn’t anything that comprehensively focuses on what else is going on in Gotham. I’m a big Gotham Central fan, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I absolutely love seeing what goes on in Batman’s shadow.

      • Well, if Snyder covers these events from Batman’s point of view in his solo book after Zero Year, then sure, this doesn’t need to focus on Batman as much. I guess my point is that the big Batman event of Batman’s 75th anniversary should include Batman himself heavily in some form. Because it’s not even Gotham’s 75th, it was created after, it’s Batman’s. It’ll be a shame if Batman’s big 75th anniversary event is all about Spoiler and Red Robin or whatever.

        • Interesting. I guess I wasn’t thinking of this book as a Batman anniversary showcase. If that’s how it’s been marketed, then yeah, it should definitely feature Batman prominently. That said, Snyder’s Batman has focused largely on his solo exploits, so I think a series that focuses more on his team (or how he works with his team) could be a good change of pace.

        • Not sure if you’ll see this, but if you check out the interviews all the writers of Eternal have done for Newsarama, they all describe it as being being designed as a celebration of the anniversary in part. And this week Scott Snyder did interviews with a bunch of sites and said the same thing. That’s why I was saying that.

        • Oh sure. They probably said as much when they announced it, but I think I was a little announcement fatigued at NYCC. In that case, it’s for sure going to feature Batman prominently, but I’d bet that, as a weekly series, it’ll be spinning A LOT of story lines (a la 52).

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