Release The Spectre: Batman Eternal #29-30

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I have to apologize for falling a bit behind with the Batman Eternal recaps. But, I’m all caught up now and ready to discuss what the people of Gotham have been up to in the latest issues.

#29 – “The City of Shadow and Doubt”Batman Eternal #29 Clay Mann & Romulo Fajardo Jr DC Comics 2014

Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Script by Ray Fawkes
Consulting Writers: Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley
Art by Simon Coleby

Even though we’re jumping ahead nine issues, it’s going to feel like no time has passed at all. Why? Because this issue opens on Arkham Asylum where Batwing and Jim Corrigan are still dealing with Deacon Blackfire and some paranormal baddies. I mentioned in my recap of issues #16-17 that this is not my favourite plot thread of the series. By this issue, Hush has been revealed as the central villain of the series (at least for now), and he has seemed very unconcerned with Arkham—which kind of ruins any tension this issue might have had because right from the first page you know Blackfire’s time is coming to an end soon. This is reaffirmed throughout the issue as Blackfire attempts to compel the Spectre out of Corrigan’s body, which just screams bad idea.

Elsewhere in Arkham, Batwing is fighting off some very creepy ghouls and having a very long conversation with his suit while he tries to get back to Corrigan. He temporarily gets through to Batman, who is busy doing Batman things like throwing blackout bombs into police helicopters. Batwing quickly updates him on the situation and transfers the Riddler’s code to Julia Pennyworth, who has really taken to her new role in the Batcave. At this point, everything in this issue really is about Arkham.

Upstairs in the asylum there are less demons, but things are still quite bizarre. Magpie and Doctor Milo are wandering around the top part of Arkham, dragging bodies through the hallway. Their scene is slightly more interesting because Milo tells Magpie that she “died three weeks ago” and that he doesn’t think Arkham has been an Asylum for years. This was the first bit of engaging mystery in this issue. If Magpie died, how is she walking around? And if Arkham isn’t an asylum, what is it?

Batman Eternal #29 Simon Coleby DC Comics 2014

I’m glad someone gets it.

Since this is an Arkham-based issue, the Joker’s Daughter also makes an appearance. At the beginning, she was holding some poor sap hostage in an alley somewhere, but she gets a note telling her to go back to Arkham. When she gets there, she is ambushed by one of Blackfire’s cronies. She beats him with a crowbar and mutters even more nonsense about her “daddy”—par for the course when it comes to the Joker’s Daughter. I think this character has a lot of potential, and I hope they don’t squander her.

This issue finally ends with a bang. Not a metaphorical bang, an actual explosion. It’s a bright green explosion that, to me, suggests The Spectre is finally making an appearance and hopefully bringing all this Arkham nonsense to an end.

This issue is probably one of my least favourite of the series so far. Nothing really happens in it; a few new questions are raised but nothing that really makes you sit up and pay attention. Ultimately, this issue feels like nothing more than set up for the start of Arkham Manor, which is exactly what it is. My fingers are crossed that something better will be waiting in the pages of issue #30.

Bat-cameos: 9

#30 – “From On High” Batman Eternal #30 Clay Mann & Romulo Fajardo Jr DC Comics 2014

Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Script by Ray Fawkes
Consulting Writers: Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley
Art by Fernando Pasarin

Issue #29 ended with a mysterious green explosion atArkham Asylum, and—as predicted—it was The Spectre. Blackfire’s plan finally works leading to The Spectre’s release. However, (as Blackfire soon learns) you can’t control a force like The Spectre, and, in the blink of an eye, the Deacon is crushed like a bug. Another villain bites the dust.

Batman Eternal #30 Fernando Pasarin DC Comics 2014Despite the fact that Blackfire is gone and this is yet another Arkham Asylum issue, it’s actually an improvement over the confusing jumble of panels that was “The City of Shadow and Doubt.” The Spectre may have solved the problem of Deacon Blackfire, but he’s left a pretty big structural mess in his wake. The very foundation of Arkham is crumbling around the people inside.

There isn’t a whole lot of plot development, but the pacing in “From on High” is fantastic. Batwing is trapped under the rubble and his life support is failing, Alfred is stuck in his cell with Bane next door, Batman can’t get to anyone, and the Joker’s Daughter is racing around with a bomb strapped to her chest. Tensions are running high and the issue leaves everyone’s fate up in the air. I may not have enjoyed the last issue, but these new developments makes this issue more enjoyable; it feels like there’s a new energy surrounding the Arkham plot-line.

My one big problem with “From on High” is the art. I always have a hard Batman Eternal #30 Fernando Pasarin DC Comics 2014time with Fernando Pasarin’s art. It was one of my biggest struggles withBatgirl before the new creative team took over.Passerin draws great scenes—give him the space and the detail he puts in is amazing. But his people are what keep me from truly enjoying his work. All of his characters have the same basic face, and, considering everything that’s happened in this series, it looks a little cartoonish. I think he’s an incredibly talented artist, but maybe not the best choice for the Bat-books.

Though I’m looking forward to getting back to the rest of the Bat-gang, it’s nice to know the Arkham Asylum story hasn’t been totally exhausted.

Bat-cameos: 5

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