And he will live on……………..
Grant Morrison’s legacy on Batman permeates through every panel in this final quarter. What Morrison did was pointedly show that although Bruce’s journey started in isolation and vengeance, it evolved into something else over the years.
Today, Bruce Wayne stands on the precipice of his own legacy – the common people he’s inspired to rise up against the corrupt, the followers who have donned colorful garbs to follow his path of justice, and the city which has finally woken up and decided to stand up for itself.
Scott Snyder and family, through Batman Eternal, have been questioning that only. Bruce is just a man failing to get over his parents’ random murder, forcing himself to fight against something more infallible than him. While that may have been the truth once, it isn’t anymore.
Legacy is the key term here. Starting with James Gordon and Alfred, continuing through Barbara and Dick and coming to a circle with Batman Incorporated, Batman is now not just one man’s struggle, it is the face of a movement that inspires hope and justice.
Getting a little more meta, when Bill Finger and Bob Kane first envisioned the Bat-Man, little did they know that 75 years from now, his is a struggle we will relate to globally and find inspiration in.
So, yes, the first truth of Batman – you’re never alone.
With Hush taking over the controls and disabling each Bat-family member, we see Julia manage to locate and infiltrate Tim Drake’s own ‘Bat-cave’. This gives Alfred just enough time to release himself from the containment cage and knock out Hush. Spoiler manages to escape her father and return to the city.
Even though they’ve got their devices online again, Jason Todd and Harper Row are having a difficult time with Batman’s Rogues. Bruce’s arrival to the arena though changes the stakes.
This is not a Bruce who’ll go gently. Batman crashes his plane, taking out Bane and then moving on to Scarecrow and finally Mr Freeze. Quite brutally, I might add. As for Clayface, Bruce uses the old Freeze Gun routine. There is a moment of humor as we see Batgirl bring in a knocked out Joker’s Daughter.
But even before chit-chat can begin, Batman notices the burning city and orders both of them to save as many as they can. Julia notifies Bruce that a Bat-signal has been sighted and he recognizes it as being the roof of Beacon Tower.
Arriving them, he is confused by an unfamiliar voice – only to get electrocuted and come face to face with who appears to have been the puppeteer all along, the Cluemaster.
Arthur Brown cuts the Bat symbol of his chest, leaving it bleeding in that way. He reveals that all he ever wanted was to show the city that Batman is nothing more than a man, he’s no legend or nightmare. So, while Bruce was busy chasing after his more ‘A-list’ Rogues, Arthur was hiding in plain sight waiting for the endgame.
Meanwhile, James Gordon manages to get free of his cell and meets up with Bard and squad, as they decide to retake the city. Oswald Cobblepot is himself saved by Killer Croc (by proxy, Selina Kyle) and made an offer to sustain the mob rule.
Bruce manages to get free of his shackles, but is unable to best Arthur in his worn down state. At the mercy of his gun, Bruce is saved when Lincoln March otherwise calling himself Bruce’s long lost brother arrives on the scene and kills the Cluemaster.
The Batfamily itself is overwhelmed, with Jason failing to stop the debris falling and getting trapped, and Stephanie trying to tell Harper to leave the city while there’s still a chance – something Harper refuses to.
While Bruce does get some good hits in, he’s still at the mercy of March. But that all changes when Gordon decides to light up a hundred bat-signals in the sky (in a scene reminiscent of the announcement of Batman Incorporated) .
Both Lincoln and Arthur thought that if they demolished the man, they can destroy the name of Batman. But they’re too late for that. It’s become much bigger than Bruce Wayne’s personal crusade.
Barbara manages to save Jason and with the Birds of Prey arriving as well, Lincoln finds himself overwhelmed. Especially thanks to a last minute return from Stephanie.
Attempting to escape, he’s caught by his former masters – who are none too pleased by his actions.
With the city coming back to normal, each Bat-family member gets a moment of reflection. Barbara waits hand and foot on her recently returned father. Batwing and Jim Corrigan have one last talk before the latter leaves for his new job – the Midnight Shift, and Tim and Stephanie hit things off.
Jason Bard meets up with Vicki and reveals that he left the force, and that Maggie Sawyer is the new commissioner.
Bruce and James Gordon meet up on top of the GCPD roof with Scarecrow on the news scanner. One more time…………..
The themes of family and legacy are paramount in this book. That Bruce’s journey has grown from personal and isolated, to something bigger and more infallible than himself.
Batman is now no more the name of an 8-year old trying desperately to stop those two bullets that defined his life as a tragedy. It is now a movement of justice and inspiration.
Scott Snyder and family served us this story to remind us that Bruce Wayne may or may not be eternal, but Batman certainly is. It’s been 75 years and we still look up to a man who decided to wear a Bat costume to fight crime.
Because it’s more than a costume, it’s a show of man’s indomitable spirit, the unquenchable thirst to fight past adversity into the light. How a personal tragedy can be channeled into a positive public campaign that betters the world we live in.
Batman Eternal itself had some highs and lows, but in the end it came through when it needed to.
So, I give it 9.0 out of 10.
+A great finale
+Some great themes
+Excellent character moments
-Slightly rushed ending