#19 – Breaking Bat

Batman Eternal 19

Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV

Script by Tim Seeley

Consulting writers: John Layman & Ray Fawkes

Art by Emanuel Simeoni

After a number of mediocre issues, it’s beginning to feel like this story is back on track. Or maybe it’s just that I care about these subplots more than the inner workings of Arkham Asylum. The principal difference is that Batman actually plays a significant role in this issue. Imagine that — Batman being an important character in Batman Eternal! He and Lieutenant Bard are accompanying Killer Croc through the sewers beneath the Narrows. One of Croc’s people,  a little girl named Jade, has been taken, and they have formed an uneasy alliance to chase after the man who has taken her. The story revisits Batgirl, Red Hood, and Batwoman, who are finally starting to get somewhere in Brazil. But unfortunately, Batgirl is mentally manipulated by a very creepy Dr Falsario. She starts to believe she is seeing something that isn’t there — just like her father did the day of the accident. But instead of a gun in someone’s hand, she sees Batwoman and Red Hood as her brother and the Joker, respectively — two people who have caused her A LOT of pain – and she lashes out at them, hard. tumblr_naaa0hPkhV1tawf0wo2_500

I was a little disappointed that Batgirl was the one who was subjected to hypnosis/mind control. She was the one, after all, who followed the investigation to Brazil, who kept looking even when Batman sent Red Hood after her, and who was willing to do anything to prove her father’s innocence. But in the end it was Batwoman who went after Falsario, leaving Red Hood behind to take care of Batgirl. I really wanted Batgirl to have the satisfaction of getting the man responsible for Gordon’s current situation. That being said, there was a really touching Red Hood moment in this issue. In order to get through to Batgirl, he shares the memory of one of their first encounters. This is clearly a very important moment for Jason Todd (then Robin, now Red Hood). It’s the moment he met Batgirl. But the moment itself isn’t a particularly happy one. In the encounter, Barbara is rather rude to Jason, telling him he’ll “never be Dick Grayson.” It definitely pulled on the heart strings and said a lot about how Jason views himself and his place in the family. BE2 Meanwhile, cellmates Leo and Gordon are awoken by the smell of burning. Having Cobblepot and Falcone in one place has proved to be too much for the delicate balance of prison life, and a riot has broken out. So what does Gotham’s most notorious cop do? Does he hide and hope the men he put away don’t find him? If you answered yes to that question, you clearly don’t know Jim Gordon.

tumblr_na9g35Ak3W1rawmemo1_500 I was beginning to worry about Gordon. After James Jr. came to visit, he seemed like he was giving up. Ready to “pass the torch.” But when he ran into the riot to save the prison guards, with only a fire extinguisher by his side, it felt like the clouds over Gotham parted just a little bit. The art in this issue was quite detailed and very dark. For the most part I liked it. I thought the style lent itself to the overall tone of the story. The action heavy scenes in particular were well done. There was a lot of movement, but the lines and panel layout drew your eye to exactly the right place. As a result the story flowed smoothly. However, at times I found Simeoni’s art to be a little too detailed. Faces in particular were darkened by too many lines and were sometimes distracting. Simeoni is clearly very talented, but at times the work would benefit from having him pull back a little. In this issue: Bat-Cameos: 12 Red Robin’s new alter-ego: Winged Weenie

#20 – Wild Animals

batman eternal 20

Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV

Script by Tim Seeley

Consulting writers: John Layman & Ray Fawkes

Art by Emanuel Simeoni

“Wild Animals” opens with Batman, Killer Croc, and Bard confronting the Ten-Eyed Man. Remember him from issue #15? Well, he managed to escape from his dark corner of Arkham and is the one responsible for Jade’s kidnapping. Things here got a little confusing. The Ten-Eyed Man kidnapped Jade because she was a “pure soul,” and the “Masters of the Deepest Dark” needed her to open an interdimensional portal. Where this portal led, who the evil masters were, and the why of it all weren’t really touched upon. It was ALL action which made the opening feel chaotic. In an easier to follow action sequence, former Commissioner Gordon is still heading straight into the belly of the prison riot. But the fire extinguisher is no longer his only ally. His quiet cellmate Leo? Not so quiet anymore.

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Turns out “Leo” is actually Rex Calabrese a.k.a “The Lion,” a former Mob leader who has been been hiding out in prison ever since Carmine Falcone took over eleven years earlier. But he’s chosen to reveal his true identity in order to help Gordon. Not because he thinks Gordon is such a fabulous guy, but because he doesn’t want Barbara Gordon to grow up without a father, the way his little girl did. A nice sentiment, especially coming from a former mob boss who was probably responsible for taking a number of fathers away from their daughters back in his day. And thanks to Batgirl, Red Hood, and Batwoman, Leo may get his wish. They have the evidence they need to clear Gordon’s name. Unfortunately they weren’t able to get to Falsario in time – someone else killed him, so until they find the man/woman in charge, the potential for more hypnosis and mind control is still out there. This all leads to another nice Jason-Barbara scene. Though she resisted having him there the entire time, Barbara Gordon is willing to give credit where credit is due, and they share a nice moment. A huge improvement over the memory Jason shared last issue of Barbara rejecting him for not being good enough to fill Dick Grayson’s shoes. tumblr_nalzdmWE091r1d7fuo3_r2_500 For the most part this issue is a straight continuation of #19. There isn’t a lot of new information introduced. Instead, some of the very first plot lines of this series are wrapped up. But in all the chaos of Arkham Asylum, Brazil, The Narrows, and the Blackgate riot, there is one character who was pushed into the background. She had played such a small role in this series so far, it was easy to forget she was even there. But in the last few pages of this issue she comes back in a big way. She wasn’t just laying low, she was getting ready… tumblr_nas6ekIH1A1rawmemo1_500 I have to hand it to the writers of Batman Eternal – just when I think I know what plotline I’m the most invested in, they go and throw Stephanie Brown as the Spoiler into the mix, and the whole game changes once again. It’s not a surprise that Brown would take up the Spoiler mantle once again – it was hinted at pretty strongly before the series even began – but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, and I am excited to see how she plays with the rest of the Bat-family. In this issue: Bat-Cameos: 8  Secret subplot: The Robins find love – first Tim and now Jason?