Review by Paul Bowler
So far, Batman: Zero Year has certainly lived up to all expectations. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s 11-part retelling of Bruce Wayne’s early career as Batman has offered a decidedly modern twist to the Dark Knights origin, while remaining entirely faithful to the legacy of the character. Last month, Batman #27: Part 7 of Zero Year, ended with the Batman trapped in the catacombs beneath Gotham City, fighting for his life, and mocked by the Riddler for his apparent lack of detective skills. We take a break from Zero Year for this month with Batman #28, the flash-forward “spoilers” issue Scott Snyder, together with co-writer James Tynion IV and artist Dustin Nyguyen; have created to bring us a preview of Batman Eternal.
Batman #28 provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of what this special 75th anniversary event will hold, as we discover that Gotham City is in lock down, and a curfew is now rigorously enforced. For reasons that strike close to home, Harper Row has chosen to break this curfew. After managing to find the “magic words” to get her past the barricade, Harper is taken to an exclusive nightclub, one of the few left in Gotham, where Harper is determined to meet the new Kingpin of Gotham, with a little help from Batman of course. However, the Dark Knights world is very different place now, and he has lost so much, even the city he is sworn to protect. Harper’s new costume as Batman’s crime fighting ally is also revealed, working together, they confront Gotham’s new Kingpin, but there is one last secret still waiting to be revealed…
My, of my, how Gotham has changed. Batman #28 gives us a good sense of what Batman Eternal will be like, completely game-changing events have transpired, the Dark Knights world has seemingly been turned on its head, and even the criminal underworld has been shaken to its core. The reasons behind the lockdown are also very surprising, bringing added emphasis to Harper Row’s return, and the new role she has assumed. This issue features the debut of Harper Row’s new costume, with an outfit that has gained much speculation, but its reveal here is clearly a defining moment for the character, as is her code name and the crime-fighting methods she employs.
Snyder and James Tynion IV also bring many surprise in the shape of Batman’s allies, clearly the Dark Knights world has suffered a major upheaval, the city, the police, even the new Kingpin of Gotham now see him in a different light. Indeed, when the new Kingpin of Gotham is revealed, its one of those rare serendipitous moment in comics where a cracking plot twist catches you completely off guard and wraps itself around your neck.
Batman Eternal is a series that Scott Snyder has developed along with his former student, James Tynion IV (Red Hood and the Outlaws), who launched Talon with Snyder, and worked with him on the Batman backup stories and annuals. Tynion brings his outstanding character work to this issue, there some fantastic flourishes, as we take this secret glimpse into the future, and see a Gotham that is even more dangerous and crazy than ever before.
Dustin Nguyen, whose art will also feature in Batman Eternal, handles the artistic duties on this issue, while Greg Cappulo works his magic on the extra pages for Batman #29. Nguyen worked with Snyder on American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares, as well as the Superman Unchained backups. Here with Batman #28, Nguyen brings a very fluid, and kinetic feel to the action, from the sweeping dark tones of the Gotham’s streets, to the gleaming and opulent interior of the nightclub, which leads to the aforementioned showdown with Gotham’s new crime boss, Nguyem’s work is perfectly suited to Gotham, and together with Derek Fridolfs inks and colorist John Kalisz, I’m pleased to say that Batman #28 is a mighty fine looking book indeed.
Batman #28 is a great sneak peek at what the rest of 2014 has in store for the Dark Knight. Snyder and Tynion deliver a sterling issue that is full of surprises, which, together with a spoiler-ific final page and Nguyen’s art, makes Batman #28 a thrilling trip into the future before Zero Year resumes in Batman #29 next month.