Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.
This week I managed to keep my comic pile relatively small, picking up 6 or 7 books including Batman Eternal #40 from DC Comics. This weekly series was plotted by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, but the actual script was written by Ray Fawkes, with art by Javi Fernandez, colours by Dan Brown and letters from Steve Wands.
Batman Eternal started back in April 2014, opening with a defeated Batman and a city in flames, while a hidden villain pontificates and gloats about his victory. Over the course of the last 44 issues, we have seen numerous plot threads involving the whole Bat family and almost all of his rogues gallery, from Carmine Falcone to Hush. Starting with Commissioner Jim Gordon being manipulated, framed and wrongly deposed and imprisoned for manslaughter of two train cars full of Gotham citizens, a chain reaction of seemingly unconnected events all start off in the city, leading to the police and public turning on Batman. Gang wars, nanoviruses that take over children, ghosts under Arkham Asylum, invitations to all of Gotham’s worst villainy to gather and see the coming fall, all this has slowly coalesced into the machinations of someone still hidden behind the curtain. This issue we get brief glimpses of Batman battling ghosts, more buddy cop action from Batwing and Jim Corrigan fighting even more ghosts, Harper Row talking down The Spoiler and her Bruce Wayne hatred, and after months of red herrings, of people reporting to people who are reporting to other people, Batman finally puts the pieces together, revealing who is pulling the strings at the end of the issue. Unless that too is a misdirect.
Ray Fawkes does a solid job as usual in delivering the story, and dialogue and characterisation is strong for everyone. The art is really nice and dynamic here from Fernandez and Brown, with the ghosts looking ephemeral and creepy, and some very nice action sequences. The spread of Batman surrounded by the GCPD and throwing down a flashbang was gorgeous.
My issues with this comic, this story in general have nothing to do with the writing or the art. Like Futures End, the weekly format with a previously designed length and end game means that the story often treads water. Even now, closing in on the end of this first ‘season’ or whatever they are calling it, there are so many disparate threads to juggle between that little progress is made between any of them. It seems like Harper has been talking to The Spoiler for several issues now, though I’ve really enjoyed Harper Row in Eternal and hope she sticks around. The reveal of who has been behind everything from the start may seem a little obvious (mainly because there is barely anyone left that it could have been), but I didn’t really guess it until a few pages before. One of the things I like about Batman comics is often the detective angle, having hints and trying to figure them out alongside Bruce. I feel like nothing has really been made available for any of that. Also ‘He said he’d steer clear of me’ is pretty terrible reasoning for the world’s greatest detective to rule out a suspect.
This was a good entry into Batman Eternal and I’m certainly very much looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in the end. If you’ve not been interested at all in Eternal so far, this really isn’t the place to jump on and I’m hardly going to convince you to try it. If you’re reading it, definitely keep checking it out. If you dropped off somewhere over the previous 44 issues, maybe give this one a try now that everything is starting to come together! Pick it up at your LCS or digital comics platform.
Score: 7.5 Ghost Punches out of 10