We’re coming to the status quo set up in Batman #28, but frustratingly it seems like everything is becoming filler instead of furthering the plot.
A weekly series is only as strong as its cast. While Catwoman, Killer Croc and Jason Bard has been good supporting characters, that’s all they’ve been – Batman, the great protagonist he is, is struggling to carry the entire series on his shoulders.
Selina has decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and take control of the Gotham Underworld, and the first person she enlists is Killer Croc. And as a peace offering as Don Kyle, she hands Batman the hide-out of most of the Rogues that escaped Arkham.
This brings up continuity problems. The last we saw them, Freeze was knocked out as was Bane and more…so when exactly did they get free. There is no explanation given, as even Batman doesn’t comment on their early release from Blackgate (where they would presumably go).
Still, it matters not as Selina’s tip helps Bruce take out the Rogues, while Killer Croc is able to get a victory in his rematch with Bane (who threw him off the Wayne Tower in the infamous Arkham War, and has a grudge since Knightfall).
Then just as quickly, they’re released by who I presume is the main antagonist of this story.
Coming to the main antagonist, the Riddler takes centre stage as he taunts Batman with riddles that ultimately prove to be his downfall as Batman tracks him down to a mountain shack. He’s scared out of his wits and when Bruce tries to bring him back, triggers an avalanche that they barely manage to escape.
Back in Gotham, the Rogues are presented with Batman’s high end arsenal with Firefly one happy customer, taking out Selina’s car when she comes in with a proposition to change sides. Later, Selina leans of Spoiler’s existence and believes she may be the crucial piece in this war.
At the Gazette, Vicki is disconsolate at Jason Bard’s betrayal and is in talks with chief editor Warren Spacey when the new intern Patrick comes in guns blazing. She manages to knock him out but Warren is tethering on the edge.
Batwing and his roommate meanwhile are apparently suffering the after effects of the Arkham Hell encounter, while Jimmy Corrigan and an unconscious Maxie Zeus appear from the sewers unharmed (seriously, that Corrigan crushed under a stone doesn’t even get a mention). Giving these B-plots only a few panels really hurt their momentum.
The artwork has its ups and down, but after Fabok’s work last quarter, this feels a let down. I wish instead of Selina dealing with her rise in her own book, this could have been better suited for Eternal – it seems like everyone is taking sudden actions that we never see develop naturally due to their limited screen presence.
The Bat family has been negligible since the middle of this series (with continuity defying cameos around every corner) and Jim Gordon doesn’t seem to merit much mention, with only a rehash of his conflicting situation with his savior the Lion. And Jason Bard is now ostracized from the rest of the GCPD for the stunt he pulled with the Batmobile.
Bard was the true wild card of the series and if this is all there is to him, I will be severely disappointed. None of the others have really stood out, with the Gang War petering out long ago and Hush being out of the game.
The Riddler was a welcome sight though, and his riddles did more to hint at the things to come (especially the father-daughter and 'echo' ones) than the main story. And his panic at being forced to go back to Gotham put a stamp on the peril Gotham is currently in.
I wish they gave the rest of the family, especially Red Robin more to do, though given the ominous end with nanobot possessed children means he and Harper may get to be more involved.
Batman Eternal feels like it’s suffering a midlife crisis with rehashed situations and bloated filler moments that don’t contribute to the overall story. Most of this can be attributed to Bruce remaining the protagonist, instead of the Batfamily.
The artwork also takes a downward spiral, only improving near the end.
So, I give it 6.0 out of 10.
+The Rogues get some much needed focus
-Too much focus on Batman as a singular protagonist
-The artwork takes a downward spiral