Originally, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about the year long event that is Batman Eternal. I have been burned by DC events in the past (*cough* Villains Month *cough*) But the promise of Stephanie Brown and a superstar creative team (Snyder! Fawkes! Layman! Seeley!) convinced me to check out the first issue. And as luck would have it, I’ve found myself enjoying the story. So I think it’s safe to say I’m on board. Bring it on, DC.
For this post I’m bundling two issues together in one post. Starting with #10 (last week’s issue) and #11 (this week’s issue).
But First – A Quick Recap
The situation in Gotham is dire. Beloved cop, husband, and father, Jim Gordon has been arrested and accused of killing an unarmed man. And the worst part is that it looks like he might have done it. Witnesses report the man didn’t have a gun and Gordon shot him point blank. But Batman is convinced there’s more to the story (would he be the world’s greatest detective if he didn’t?)
The “more” may be connected to Carmine Falcone, renowned crime lord, coming back into town. He has declared war on Batman and all the other costumes – vigilantes and villains alike. And with the new police commissioner in his pocket it looks like he might have a shot at succeeding. It’s going to take everything Batman has, and the help of the entire family, to make things right again.
Caught up? Good. Let’s look at the latest two issues.
#10 – When Animals Attack
One of the things I like about this series is also the source of one of my biggest complaints. This series is determined to include the entire Bat Family in the narrative. Which is something I love. There are definitely some family members I don’t think get enough page content. However, to accommodate this plan, characters often only appear for a single issue at a time, not allowing enough time for their individual story lines to be properly developed. I’m still holding out hope that this will straighten itself out as we get further into the story but only time will tell.
Anyway this week’s Bat-cameo is Catwoman, everyone’s favourite cat burglar!
Catwoman and Falcone have history. Turns out five years ago Catwoman took something of Falcone’s. And left a little something behind – the scars that now mar his face. And he hasn’t forgotten. A fact he shares with Catwoman in the present, after managing to detain her. In traditional soliloquy form he tells her that the run-in five years ago taught him a valuable lesson, the fact that “Gotham needs a protector. Someone to step in and keep it sane. Someone to save Gotham from itself. Because left unchecked Gotham becomes a city of freaks.” However, we don’t get to hear how Falcone plans to do something differently because Professor Pyg shows up with his cronies to get back at Falcone for tricking him in an earlier book.
Meanwhile at stately Wayne Manor… Bruce and Alfred are tending to the injured girl Batman picked up in Japan. A girl named Julia Pennyworth! *surprised gasp* There is clearly some intense Pennyworth drama going on in Wayne Manor, drama that I wanted to know more about, but instead Bruce is called away to talk to former Boy Wonder, Jason Todd (Bat-Cameo #2). Bruce asks him to keep an eye on (a.k.a spy on) Batgirl, whom he thinks is “focused obsessively” on getting her father out of jail. This whole conversation rubbed me the wrong way. Batgirl has more than proved herself to be an equal member of the Bat-team, and deserves better than having the boys make decisions about her state of mind and then collude to spy on her. Go with her? Sure. But creepily follow behind and watch her every move? No.
There’s a quick pan to Vicki Vale (Bat-Cameo #3), who is busy channelling her inner Lois Lane, and Stephanie Brown (Bat-Cameo #4) is trying to avoid her father, The Cluemaster. But then it’s back to where the whole thing began – Falcone, Catwoman, and the surgery Pyg is about to perform on them. But thankfully Batman arrives just in the nick of time (did you have any doubts?) and saves them both, leaving Falcone alone in his now ruined home and taking Catwoman with him. At which point Batman gives his second condescending speech of the night – warning Catwoman to stay out of whatever’s going on and that she doesn’t know what Falcone is capable of. Batman, when are you going to get just how awesome the ladies of Gotham are?
Times Batman Underestimates the Women in his Life: 2
Pennyworth Drama Alert: Yellow.
#11 – Day of the Dads
There is a lot of weird stuff going on in this issue but first we need to talk about the cover. This may be the worst Batman Eternal cover yet. I refuse to believe that anyone fights like this. Thankfully the cover artist, Guillem March, isn’t the interior artist. This issue was pencilled by Ian Bertram and it’s a lot different than what you normally see in the Bat-Books. It’s more loose, not as many sharp edges. It took me a few pages to get used to it, but once I did, I really appreciated the amount of detail put in and the unique feel of the issue. I wouldn’t want this look for a Bat-book all the time, but it was fun for a single issue.
This issue is called the Day of the Dads and with good reason. There are four different Daddy-Daughter conflicts to take in:
- Batgirl and Jim Gordon: Batgirl has run off to Argentina to investigate a lead. There she runs into a supervillain named Scorpiana. She gets some help from El Gaucho, the Argentinian Batman, Starfire and Red Hood. On its own this was a perfectly good story, but since her lead didn’t really pan out it didn’t seem to add much to the situation at large. Red Hood telling Batgirl that she was acting “desperate” and “sloppy” wasn’t so great either.
- Stephanie Brown and the Cluemaster: Stephanie Brown has finally figured out the truth about her father. Arthur Brown is a former game show host (not a mad scientist! Shocker! ) who got sick of the rich elite of Gotham and their subpar intelligence. He had a few run ins with Batman and then got out of the game. Until now… It was nice to finally see Stephanie Brown get some real page time and to get some answers about a previously unknown villain.
- Julia and Alfred Pennyworth: Holy tension Batman! Julia is tough as nails and harbours some serious resentment towards Alfred. She wants to leave, he wants her to say. Ultimately Bruce’s offer to let her do her SRR work out of Wayne Manor wins out. Julia Pennyworth is officially part of the game.
- Catwoman and her mysterious, letter writing Dad: This was probably the most intriguing part of this issue. Catwoman is hanging out alone in the cemetery, at a grave marked Lola MacIntire. A letter has been left for her there from her father. Batman shows up and attempts to give her the whole “you need to stay out of this” speech again, but she burns the letter and blows him off like his opinion means nothing.
Overall this was a pretty solid issue. It didn’t move the plot along as much as I would have liked, but it did give some of the Bat-women some overdue page time and an opportunity to show how resourceful and capable they can be.
Pennyworth Drama Alert: Orange
Laziest Costume Award: El Gaucho