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!
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:
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?
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.
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?