Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Script by Ray Fawkes
Art by Fernando Pasarin
Last issue we saw the collapse of Arkham Asylum. This issue touches on a tiny bit of the fallout from that event. Primarily, the fate of Alfred and the escape of many of Gotham’s most notorious super-villains.
I have to say I was a little disappointed at how easy everything was in this issue. I had expected the collapse of Arkham to have greater, and more far-reaching, consequences than it did. Normally, the escape of not one, not two, but all of the super-villains would cause some serious problems for the Bat-family. But in this case, Batman is already conveniently on scene, and that scene is being run by Bullock, who is still on the Bat’s side. A couple well placed punches and some flips that would make Dick Grayson jealous, and the villains are taken care of.
Meanwhile, Alfred is trapped in the rubble of Arkham and convinced this is the end for him. But who should come to his rescue? Bane!
It’s an unlikely pairing and the main hook of this issue. But it’s an unlikely pairing for a reason. Bane claims to have helped Alfred because he can tell he’s ex-military and he might be an asset in their current situation. Not long after he gives this explanation, they are attacked by an overwhelming number of strange black goblin creatures. Bane, being Bane, immediately starts to take them out, but Alfred also kicks some goblin butt and proves Bane’s theory right. He is a helpful guy to have around. Feeling vindicated, Bane decides to trust Alfred to lead the way out of the sewers.
But Alfred is, of course, a lot smarter than Bane gives him credit for. He tricks Bane by actually leading him into a secret bat-hideout and knocks him out with some kind of gas. This whole plot line feels forced, as though it is nothing more than a convenient way to get Alfred out of Arkham. I have a hard time believing Bane actually needed help from a rather small, senior citizen, even if he was ex-military. Especially since it appears he has no idea who Alfred really is.
And after all that build up with his kidnapping, his story just fizzled out. After arriving at the hide-out, Alfred is more or less fine and ready to get back to work. And the same thing with the Joker’s Daughter. There were so many hints that she was up to something and involved in the Arkham collapse, but even her explosives were duds. Other than Arkham becoming a big hole in the ground everything is exactly the same as it was before.
The artwork is also extremely frustrating. Pasarin is a well respected artist and he does have an eye for detail. But I mentioned in my last recap that I find his character’s faces all look the same. In this issue that was particularly evident. Is it just me or does Vicki Vale look a lot like Barbara Gordon these days? Even the larger panels were lacking the level of detail we saw in #30. I’m more than ready for another change in artist by this point.
Can you spot the difference: One of these is Vicki Vale in Batman Eternal, one is Barbara Gordon in Batgirl. But which one is which?
Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Script by Kyle Higgins
Art by Jason Fabok
After being chased by the police, Stephanie Brown has finally come head to head with Hush, her father’s boss. And he is angry.
It’s easy to forget that in the new 52 Brown has never been a superhero, and though she has an affinity for it, she is still a newbie. As evidenced by her surprise when she punches Hush in the face and finds out how much it hurts. She talks tough and she doesn’t stand down, but she’s also a little out of her league with someone like Hush. Thankfully, Batman arrives in the nick of time to save her life. But what I like about Stephanie Brown is that she doesn’t just sit back and let the Bat take care of things. She picks herself back up again and rejoins the fight alongside him. At one point she even saves him back. Yes, she may have needed rescuing but she’s far from bring a damsel. My favourite part is that she pulls a Batman on the man himself, and silently disappears just as he turns to ask her who she is.
After Stephanie Brown exits, “Whisper Campaign” gives the reader some brief happy moments — Batwing is rescued from the rubble of Arkham (did you forget he was there? Because I did.) and Alfred and Julia are reunited, and on the road to a better relationship. It gives you these happy moments to lull you into a false sense of security before dropping the latest Batman Eternal bomb.
We learned last issue, that Batman has little hideouts/safe houses hidden all around Gotham. That’s what allowed Alfred to knock out Bane and call in. But we weren’t the only ones who learned about those hideouts. The complete list of safe houses is kept in the “McGregor Database” and that database was accessed the same night Hush broke in.
Hush’s plans for the safe houses are two-fold. The first part involves telling Jason Bard about not only their locations, but also that they are stocked with Wayne Enterprise equipment. He then instructs Bard to take this information to Vicki Vale and the newspaper. The second part of the plan is to blow the safe houses up. It’s plans like these that make me think Hush is such a good match for Batman. He’s more than just some madman on the loose. He’s calm and calculating and is willing to put in the time and planning to bring Batman down. And since he knows Batman is Bruce Wayne, he knows exactly what buttons to press. I’m interested to see where their story goes and how far Hush is willing to take things. I’m also interested to see how Batman will fight back against a villain who is always two steps ahead of him.