The End is Nigh.
One of the big issues of Eternal’s latter half has been it’s scrambled attempt to close out all threads it started – and that has led to an unfocussed storyline where a more straight forward narrative arc would have served this book better.
The artwork is okay though, but the writing really detracts from enjoying even that too much.
These four issues deal with four different events, of which only two feel connected in any viable manner – Arkham Hell, the Demon’s Lair, Batcave Snatch and Breakout at Blackgate.
First of all, we continue with Batman’s struggle to stop Dr Milo and Mr. Bygone (you remember him, don’t you? Don’t you??) before he is confronted by a GPA squad. While he leaves an unconscious Bygone there, he and Milo have a date with Jim Corrigan.
Batwing himself manages to fend off the ghost attack on his apartment (by punching power, apparently) before meeting up with Corrigan and Batman. Corrigan learns from Milo that he got a spell book to revive Blackfire from a ‘bird’. Tracking the companies who bought various sections of Wayne Enterprises brings Bruce to Ra’s Al Ghul.
Ra’s sets Dr Darrk and Deadman on Bruce alongside hallucinogens (giving us a brief look at the history of Batman alongwith Batman Beyond and Bat-Damian) – but ultimately confronts a sick Ra’s – whom he last saw while retrieving his son’s body. Determining that Ra’s isn’t behind this, Bruce leaves.
Selina meanwhile attempts to find out who’s bringing in arms and more into Gotham, going to her father for help. She submits all her findings to Julia, who’s acting as an intermediary for Bruce.
She sets up so that each Batfamily member gets a crack at the Rogues running around (Scarecrow vs Batwing, Clayface vs Red Robin, Joker’s Daughter vs Batgirl, Mr Freeze vs Bluebird and Bane vs Red Hood) but a planned blackout helps set Hush loose, and he proceeds to knock out Alfred and send an unconscious Julia down the river.
At the Harper Row residence, Spoiler aka Stephanie Brown leaves to find Vicki, who refuses to release anything harming Jason Bard despite their fall-out. Stephanie tries to get her focus on the Cluemaster team, but before she can say anything more, her father manages to capture her.
Spoiler though manages to leave behind a pen-drive at Vicki’s desk.
Using the Batcave computer, Hush manages to disable all electronics accessories of the Bat family, leaving them all in precarious situations. Batman is forced to crash his unresponsive plane in an airfield, taking one of the jets there.
Jason Bard in an attempt to make amends tries to reinstate James Gordon, but is unable to persuade Mayor Hady. Using threats, he manages to get a release signed but is told that a riot has broken out at Blackgate and it’s now in Penguin’s hold. Even as Bullock and co try to reach the Prison in time, Gordon is faced by Penguin and his toughs.
The main connective thread has been of the ‘Party Planner’. He helps break Hush out of his Batcave prison, probably helps Penguin take over Blackgate, most likely gave Milo the spell book and supplied the Rogues with their arms and accessories.
But frustratingly, we’re no closer to finding out who that person is. And with only four issues left, that is a serious issue where pacing becomes a major component. All the threads explored over these issues should have been dealt with earlier in the series, but this jumping around serves to only agonize the reader more, especially the Ra’s portion.
And boy, are there several psychedelic episodes here. From Bruce's initial exposure to Bygone provoking a manifestation of his parents to his seeing several alternate versions or people wearing the mantle of Batman, including Kingdom Come Batman, Dick Grayson Batman, Batman Beyond and Damian Batman.
There are some nice moments though. We see Bruce and Julia share a tender moment with her taking Alfred’s position temporarily while Barbara goes to the circus where her father was tortured by the Joker to face someone who’s wearing the clown’s rotted face.
But those feel like drops in an ocean of filler, and in the end isn’t enough to redeem this arc of all its flaws.
An unfocussed narrative at the penultimate stage of a 52-issue event is a sad state that ruins the pacing and makes reading this feel like 4-hour preview to a 10 minute show.
There are some gems here, but they get hidden by all the dirt above it. The artwork is great though, but I wish Fabok returns for the finale. This event needs him badly.
So, I give it 5.5 out of 10.
+Some good character moments
-Too much filler
-Serious pacing issues