After months spent delving into the past during the ‘Batman: Zero Year’ story-arc, Scott Snyder gives us a brief reprieve by launching us back into the present (well, six-months into the future of the present anyway) in ‘Batman’ issue #28, which gives readers a sneak peak into the world we’ll be seeing in the upcoming ‘Batman Eternal’ weekly series that hits stands this April! This issue is jam packed with fun sneak peaks at what to expect in the coming months, including a few big changes in the relationships with some of those that the Caped Crusader cares for the most and even a few Spoilers along the way!
*WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers for this issue! If you have not read it and would rather enjoy the big reveals firsthand, go read ‘Batman’ #28 before continuing!*
Our story picks up following fan favorite non-sidekick teenager Harper Row wandering the late night streets of Gotham City all on her own, only to be picked up by the police for breaking the unexplained city-wide curfew. Harper gives the Gotham P.D. the ’special password‘, which leads to her being brought to what is apparently the last remaining high end nightclub in the seedy Gotham underground. Without giving away too much of the story, things quickly go south for our beloved Harper, which is our titular heroes cue to make his grand entrance and kick this issue into high gear! That’s when all the real fun starts anyway, as we are introduced to Harper Row’s brand new costumed alter-ego, The Bluebird! Another big reveal exposes the new big power player in the Gotham underground, introducing a former ally as the next major crime lord to tango with the caped crusader. During all of this, we see the silhouette of a mysterious figure manning the Batcomputer back in the Batcave, could this be an all new Oracle? The issue ultimately ends in one major Spoiler filled reveal to close out the preview issue and set up the upcoming ‘Batman Eternal’ series for an exciting run by finally bringing the long-demanded return of former Batman sidekick Stephanie Brown to the New 52 DC Universe! This issue did a lot of interesting new things and set the path for a lot of Batman stories yet to come, introducing us to brand new sidekicks, straining the relationship with another former friend, and bringing back a character that fans had feared to be lost forever.
Harper Row’s turn as Bluebird was fantastic, and it was great to see her finally don a costume of her very own! Even better, it was amazing to see her put on an original costume with her own superhero identity, rather than to pick up where another hero had left off. It has been long speculated that she was being groomed to become the next Robin, and more recently with Dick Grayson’s fate being left up in the air during the events of ‘Forever Evil’, that she might even take up the Nightwing mantle. Giving her a brand new title that no one else had established previously leaves the character more room to grow. Harper has continuously proven herself time and time again without ever putting on a proper costume, so it feels like she’s earned the right to come into her own as an original hero without having to live up to any kind of predecessor. It will be interesting to see what they do with the character now that she has become a masked vigilante! That said, as much as she is her own hero, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between her new costume and the one worn by Dick Grayson’s Nightwing pre-New 52 continuity. It looks almost like they put her in his old suit, then threw on some straps and a leather jacket to differentiate it and make it her own. Still, if it isn’t broken, no need to fix it right?
While there wasn’t much to be said regarding the return of Stephanie Brown, the fact that DC has finally answered the outcry of fans everywhere at least shows that they’re listening to what the readers want! Stephanie’s role in the upcoming story is yet to really be seen, but it’s been quite some time since she was last seen on the pages of a DC Comic; not to mention in her old Spoiler suit! There were also hints at a new Oracle, or at the very least another figure hanging around the Batcave working the computer. All obvious clues point to the recently introduced Carrie Kelly, who many people believed was being set up as the new Robin (considering she first appeared as Robin nearly 30 years ago in Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’), but perhaps she’d fit even better into Barabara Gordon’s former role as the data-mastermind who runs everything from the comfort of a computer desk? Only time will truly tell.
If ‘Batman’ #28 is any indication, writer Scott Snyder looks to be trying to change up the recent formula for Batman stories in the current DC Universe. We’re getting new sidekicks, new villains (well, kind of) and looking toward the future rather than holding so tightly to the past. Snyder and co-writer James Tynion IV’s writing in this issue leaves you wanting for more, which really just means that they accomplished exactly what they set out to do in this ‘Batman Eternal’ preview. It’ll be hard to pass on reading the upcoming series after all the set-up presented here. The only real complaint to be found is that we’ll have to wait through another few months of ’Zero Year’ before we can get back to this story! As usual, Dustin Nguyen’s artwork is phenomenal. It’s hard not to like his visual take on Batman, hitting all the right notes across the board. Personally I really enjoy the way his facial expressions really capture the mood of each character. His costume design for Bluebird also really stands out almost iconically in an homage the previous sidekicks while still being distinctly it’s own thing.
‘Batman’ #28 is a must read for any Batman fan who plans on reading the Caped Crusader’s adventures in the next few months. There are a lot of upcoming key plot points laid out in this issue, so it isn’t one to be missed! While next month sees the return to Snyder’s ‘Zero Year’ storyline, he’s used this issue to leave fans clamoring for more stories set in the not too distant future of Batman’s world!
Writer: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Dustin Nguyen