Before I begin to write anything at all review-y, you should know as a reader of both this comic and of my review that this issue is not by any measure a continuation of of Scott Snyder's (incredible) standalone Batman story as it has been since the New 52's reboot. This issue is instead a prelude to Batman: Eternal, a new series also written by Snyder which looks like it will actually be very solid and interesting. Despite this, I am more than a little irritated that this issue is just a marketing device to make a large chunk of DC's readers know about this new comic; waiting a month between issues is frustrating enough as it is without having an issue like this in the middle which increases the wait, which is especially true for how well-crafted and truly entertaining the 'Zero Year' story arc has been so far. Batman #27 ended on a spectacular moment of "Oh crap, The Riddler is back and actually looks badass and I'm looking forward to seeing how Batman gets out of this one", so it is an enormous shame that this issue is just painfully increasing how long we have to wait for the story to progress.
All of this said, Batman #28 (or Batman Eternal #0? I'm not really sure…) is a strong and entertaining read, beautifully drawn by one of my favourites, Dustin Nguyen. The issue's cover alone whets the reader's appetite because, like the start of all new comics, we don't know what is going to happen, and therefore having a cover as ambiguous as this serves to heighten our curiosity and excitement. The issue opens with Harper (a girl who has popped up a few times, always trying to help Batman in her own civilianised and tech-savvy way) wandering Gotham's streets and intentionally running into Gotham's patrolling police force who are enforcing a curfew. That's right: a curfew. In Gotham City. The city which we all know and love because it is rife with super-criminals and therefore there is a man dressed up like a bat who aims to stop this. When you tie this in with the text box at the opening of the issue which states "Gotham. Soon.", we know that this is probably a non-canon near-future dystopia story. In this sense, it's actually a shame that we don't get to see much of the city itself, as the majority of the issue is confined to the interior of The Egyptian, which is "the only nightclub left in New Gotham" (emphasis on the New).
Cutting ahead a little bit, this issue also has two big shock moments, the first of which actually did shock me, both in a good and a bad way. The second shock I think I'll save for any readers who don't want this issue to be totally ruined for them. Spoiler alert, obviously…
Harper is a new Bat-sidekick, official or not. She's going by the moniker of 'Bluebird', is using guns (non-lethal, I do believe) and in a way which is undeniably close to Nightwing's original blue suit. This is good for a few reasons: we have a totally new sassy sidekick who might fill a Damien-sized gap in the Bat-family, it shows that DC haven't forgotten about Nightwing's classic blue-suit days, and it gives us a new female hero which, in all comics, there really aren't enough of. However, I also don't like this. Why? Because, being the huge Nightwing fan I am, it is another step towards DC killing him off, which it seems like, as time goes on, there is a greater and greater chance of them doing so.
In conclusion, this is a fun little prequel issue, but might not be worth it if you don't have much interest in or the funds for another comic series in your life.
Reviewed by Josh Clayton