By Will Romine
Hello there friends o' mine. It's your old pal Will Romine getting back to you after a small hiatus. Have I got something for you! Here in my hand is an advance copy of Batman #28 brought to you by the wonderful Scott Snyder and art by Dustin Nguyen.
Now friends, I've received a lot of threats on my life constructive criticism for the way I handle how I reveal certain elements of an issue. My belief is that if I'm going to talk about the book, let me talk about the book. My articles are meant to be read as a DVD commentary track: enjoyed in tandem with the source material, enriching the overall experience, but in no way replacing it. If I let a nugget slip, the issue will still be fun on a bun.
However, this time there is no way I can rob my readers of the thrill of discovery. So for this review, we will have NO SPOILERS. I'm working a little bit outside of my element, but for this review, I'll work SPOILER FREE.
Now, for those of you left on a cliff hanger in Batman #27, you might want to get comfortable on that cliff. Zero Year is on a sabbatical for this issue to follow up on Detective Comics #27's Eternal. I did not know this, which lead to five minutes of trying to find the panel in Batman #27 where Batman transitioned to his current costume. It's not there. Don't try to find it. It's an exercise that will only lead to tears.
It's an interesting contrast though, an origin story juxtaposed with an issue that seems to be radically altering the Batman status quo. Kudos on Scott Snyder for that versatility. It's not easy to consciously knock down dominoes that you're currently setting up. Though the transition will be a bit abrupt if you read BM#28 as the next chapter of Zero Year, the issue itself is quite solid. As I promised before, NO SPOILERS.
I remember a few SDCCs ago when Dan Didio mentioned that the reason DC had slimmed down its Elseworlds output was that often times, the Elseworlds were cooler than the main universe. At the time, I took this to mean that writing an Elseworld was like playing in a sandbox; a writer could take characters places without running afoul of the continuity police. An Elseworld was like the girl that you date, but would never marry.
In hindsight, I should have seen this as the genesis of the new 52. The past 2+ years of the new 52 have been largely universe building. Now that the new 52 universe has a strong enough scaffolding, it's time for the writers to enjoy the unbridled fun that the Elseworld writers of yore must have experienced. I'm seeing that enthusiasm and exploration in Forever Evil, and I'm seeing it here in Eternal.
The art is also fantastic. Nguyen channels his inner Mike Mignola to capture the essential lines of a character: a real meat and potatoes artist. I mean, look at this.
And that is the SPOILER FREE review promised. Love it? Hate it? Either way, follow me @notacomplainer