In this week’s issue of Batman, we catch a brief glimpse of what may be happening down the road for the Dark Knight and his Gotham City pals, but unfortunately, a lot is lost without a prior frame of reference. In short, we were thrown in medias res, and I for one, was 100% baffled. I’ll try to write about this story without revealing too many spoilers, but it may prove difficult because, not only because this story was one large 32 page spoiler, but also because there is a new character introduced who’s named “Spoiler.”
So yes, I read this issue having absolutely no prior knowledge to what would be featured within, apart from the cover letting the reader know that they were about to read “A Secret Glimpse Into Batman Eternal.” I didn’t put much weight into this cover page blurb because from my experience, anything on the cover of a comic book is usually only there to be intentionally misleading. I read no previews, no solicitations, nothing that could have given me a clue as to what would occur in this issue. It’s even more sad that I was expecting Batman #28 to be a story within the Zero Year plot line, and when I saw this cover in my stack, I thought there had been a mistake and that Batman Eternal #1 had come out unexpectedly early. With a few more seconds of investigation, I saw that this issue was indeed marked #28 and that there had been no mistake. Normally when I’m confused about something I will consult one of my friendly neighborhood comic shop operators, but at the time he was engaged in a heated debate with a fellow patron about Geoff Johns, and I felt no desire to participate other than occasionally eavesdropping.
When Batman comes out, it’s always the very first book I read that week. I got home and immediately read it, and as I read it, I began to wait. I continued, page by page, hope for some semblance of clarity. None ever came. It was an interesting self contained story, don’t get me wrong, involving one of my favorite new characters from the DCU, but with no prior frame of reference into what was going on in the story, I couldn’t help but shake my head in disappointment.
While reading, many things were going through my head. There are several plot lines occurring within the DC Universe right now that I am relatively clueless about. What this means is that I’ve read brief mini-crossovers and seen covers of comics like Justice League and Forever Evil, and I read the Gothopia segment in Detective Comics #27, but apart from having a vague idea about what MIGHT be happening elsewhere in the DC Universe, I was lost in guessing which of these preexisting story arcs this issue was possibly referencing. Not having read many of the other Bat books or any Justice League titles for months, I was left to myself to try to figure out what could be going on between the lines.
I usually don’t do this, but after reading this book, I took to the internet and did a little research. Apparently, there was no grand overarching story that I had neglected to read, and the story was written for the sole purpose of letting us in on what may be happening in the world of Batman six months or so down the road. After figuring this out, I felt a little less stupid, but still a little disappointed. It will now be another month before we get another piece of the Zero Year arc, which has been my favorite story so far from the New 52 Batman. In my research, I found that others like me where left confused, but many of the professionals were writing that they enjoyed it for what it was, and I suppose I couldn’t say differently for myself. Like I said before, it was an entertaining, self-contained story featuring a whole lot of action, new characters, espionage, gadgetry and great art and writing, and in the end, THAT is what Batman is all about.
Having said that, if you collect or subscribe to Batman, obviously you need to buy this issue, if your’e going to end up picking up Batman Eternal, also feel free. But if you are one of those rare readers who pick up Batman monthly without subscribing, or if you like surprises, don’t bother with this issue.