Taking a break from the "Zero Year" story to leap forward into the upcoming "Batman Eternal" weekly series, Scott Snyder and co-writer James Tynion IV with Dustin Nguyen on art deliver "Batman" #28, a story certain to leave some question marks hanging in the air. "Gotham Eternal" gives readers a glimpse into the shadowy, uncertain near future of Gotham City, teasing out just enough for nothing to be spoiled too badly.
If nothing else, in "Batman" #28, Snyder and Tynion bring the payoff to the image of Harper Row that was released in December. Unsurprisingly, the payoff isn't what everyone thought, and Snyder manages to add in some other wrinkles and unsettle suppositions along the way. This is by no means the only surprise of the issue. The end result is a story more brisk than "Zero Year," packed with surprises and crowd-pleasing moments. In and of themselves, those moments would be noteworthy, but given the nature of the internet's immediacy for unleashing spoilers of story twists and character developments, the fact that the majority of "Batman" #28 should still shock readers is laudable.
Snyder minimalizes Batman's action and dialog in "Batman" #28, but does not remove his presence, choosing to give the Dark Knight moments to shine that do not require overburdensome chatter. The choice gives Dustin Nguyen more room to stretch his drawings, which the artist does quite nicely. The layout of the Egyptian nightclub plays to Nguyen's strengths as he showcases his stylistic versatility, drawing in a style completely unlike his work in "Batman: Li'l Gotham." Inker Derek Fridolfs does a solid job of spotting blacks and giving Nguyen's characters edginess, while John Kalisz's colors are just different enough from the sharper hues that have filled "Zero Year" to help push this story into different territory.
The timing of this issue is rather odd, especially for what is essentially a teaser for "Batman Eternal" in the midst of "Zero Year." I'm onboard and locked in to see how Snyder and crew weave the not-so-distant past with the near future, especially since the final panel of "Batman" #28 will make fans pump their fists in the air and shout, "Aw yeah!" before they cower back into their seats and wait for the other shoe to drop. This issue is a nice break from "Zero Year," a change of pace, a switch in visual impact, a breath of fresh air and a sign of hope for the Gotham of tomorrow as Snyder continues to construct and deepen the legend of Gotham City and its role in the mythology of Batman.