In Disinfect, we switch back to Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV as the writing team, while we get artist Andy Clarke to draw this issue this time around. Depending on where you're coming from, this issue could be seen as a filler story, considering how disconnected it is from the main plot points we've been following in the last four issues. I think it does serve as a filler one though it's certainly something you can enjoy in some places. I only have one or two nitpicks the entire time I was reading it and it was mostly about Vicki Vale.
Just like with my favorite Eternal issue so far, which was #3, Snyder and Tynion once again had three stories happening alongside each other for Disinfectant. This time they converge as one by the last scenes. The central characters for this story are what we may call secondary or supporting ones in the Batverse: they were Tim Drake, Harper Row and Vicki Vale. The setting is in the Narrows, one of the places in the city that is caught in the ongoing (yet not very visible) gang war. However, unlike issue #3, the subplots here are not particularly engaging hence the filler feel. I did enjoy this issue, though, even if I was more interested to read the continuation of the primary Gordon and Falcone storylines already because the previous issue too was more Batgirl-centered.
Still, personally, I'm just glad Tim Drake is here and that he's actually doing more outside of his Teen Titans run. In this case, he's building robots and investigating the plague of nanobots that may have something to do with Professor Pyg.
Now I haven't been interested in him in New 52 lately especially whenever he's in crossover tie-ins with other Bat-titles because it's either he's taken for granted entirely and is just there for body count, or for inconsequential purposes of the plot. This issue not only makes use of him well but he also references Death of the Family events concerning Damian in particular, and whatever happened to Dick in Forever Evil. These things are mentioned while he's conversing with Batman and he's quite cold towards him which is reasonable when you understand how the complications indirectly caused by Bruce Wayne have taken its toll on Tim himself. I have to admit that Tim is not exactly the Robin I grew up with, let alone one whom I ever thoroughly enjoyed. My exposure to him was probably in Teen Titans back in the nineties but I never got to read comics consistently when I was younger, honestly, so I never really got into him until Tomasi's issue about War of the Robins (I thought the rivalry between him and Damian was amusing) and two months ago when I was reading Knightfall and I found myself genuinely liking his characterization there. Would Tim Drake be in other Eternal issues, I wonder. If he continues to be this relevant and active in the next storylines then, please, bring him on.
Another delightful part for this issue is Harper Row, probably the most promising original character of Snyder's. I totally adore her personality and her relationship with her brother Connor. I also remember now that the preview Eternal issue #28 for Snyder's Batman actually mentioned the nanobots and that Harper Row there was now Bluebird. Anyway, I thought she was pretty fierce here, always the ready kick-ass girl scout--and yet still vulnerable and sympathetic. I liked her interaction with Tim Drake here (hell, I absolutely loved how Tim Drake unceremoniously crashed the party by literally falling from the floor above them while he was being possessed by nanobots. That was a Crowning Moment of Awesome right there. I LOLed pretty hard). Another thing I loved about Harper Row in this story is that she hilariously undermines Vicki Vale, the supposedly adult woman who should know better. Can we talk about Vale now because she was the only part of this issue that got me scratching my head. My final rating for this issue once I finished this review is something y'all should blame on her.
I don't understand why she was stupid enough to go to the Narrows and randomly pick the scariest-looking motherfucker to get a sound bite about the gang war between Penguin and Falcone. I feel that she was just showing off to the high school intern who came along with her and I'm sorry but it was very juvenile and did not help me relate to her character at all, considering I myself have a background in the media (I took four years of Broadcast Journalism and was the associate editor of our student paper) and that is not how you do investigative work, Ms. Vale. It was sloppy and irresponsible. I was offended by how this supposedly strong-willed female character was portrayed. Sure, in the end, she got her scoop (by forcefully shoving a gang member against the wall using a taser) but even the fact that she published a piece about it was questionable and very unrealistic. Everything about her actions and motivations are unconvincing and shameful. I know for a fact that I can overlook this and forgive Snyder and Tynion because at least they gave me Tim and Harper who really engaged me here. But still, I hope Vicki Vale improves because I have a feeling that the Gotham Gazette will still have to make coverage since they are the news and Gotham has never been more ripe for controversy and exclusive exposé than at this moment.