This week in Batman Eternal we go on an investigation into the past of our main antagonist, an old rivalry heats up, and somehow a minor character survives what should have been a fatal attack from two issues ago. Oh yeah, and Batman fights ninjas!!!
One of the things I am really loving about Batman Eternal is the inclusion of all these older and peripheral characters. It shows some real fan service to reward those who are faithful, long time readers with glimpses of characters we recognize. As opposed to filling out the ranks of characters with new generic badies who would need time devoted to their backstories we are given established characters who need none.
At the same time, this plus for older readers is in fact a drawback for new readers, who don’t know what the characters motivations are or any kind of specific details about their pasts. So while it is nice to see them and be reminded of them I don’t feel that their inclusion in these stories adds anything to the stories themselves. In fact a new reader is most likely to think they are just some generic bad guy and not realize that they have a history, even when said history is actually irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things. In the facts section, I will shed some light on the details of older characters and maybe encourage you to seek out some older stories of theirs to read.
From the first page we are shown that Bixby Rhodes (Roadrunner) somehow miraculously survived his entire car dealership getting blown up. Granted the character has cybernetic legs that make him run quicker than your average human but I still find it hard to believe he escaped that deathtrap that was sprung on him by Professor Pyg in issue 7. No mention is made of it in this issue and I doubt that we will be granted a flashback detailing his escape so for now we will just have to chalk it up to blind luck.
Bixby’s role in this issue is to deliver Commissioner Forbes to Falcone for a little chat. It’s a moment that is very revealing in regards to Forbes. Up until now we have seen him as aggressive, insulting, confident, domineering, and even a bully at times. When faced with Falcone, and on his own, his true nature shows through and it is nice to see him as he truly is. During their conversation there was an editor note that pulled me out of the moment. First, please don’t ruin my immersion in the story by reminding me of that fact. Second, we really don’t need to be reminded of something that happened 7 days ago. If it was a monthly series I would let it slide since details can be forgotten from issue to issue over a months time but this was just last week.
We get to see Catwoman portrayed properly for a change. None of those silly shenanigans from her own series on display her, nor fights with the Penguin over stuff we don’t care about. Just good old thievery. I really liked how nonchalantly she was standing as she opened the safe. Really captured how sure she is of herself and completely relaxed she can be in a situation that would see most of us constantly checking our backs.
The color choices in this issue I initially only picked up on subconsciously but upon my second reading I noticed that the pallet between Gotham and Hong Kong stood out from each other quite a bit. Gotham being the somber muted tones we are used to and Hong Kong being quite bright and dramatic with it’s red and purplish hues. The Batman Incorporated Penthouse at Wayne Industries in Hong Kong gave us some fun visuals. Getting to see the japanized versions of well know Batcave trophies was entertaining. A small piece of criticism I had with the art was a continuity error from one panel to the next. On page 14 panel 3 Batman blocks a sword from behind over his left shoulder. In the next panel he is blocking it from the front.
- Forbes may not be putting Falcone’s men in prison but Catwoman is putting them in the hospital so it all evens out.
- On page 7 panel 4, at first glance I thought Jiro hit that guy so hard he knocked his teeth out. Yes, I know, it is just a broken piece of his mask.
- Batman didn’t figure out what brought Falcone back to Gotham but relieving Falcone of his cut of the Hong Kong profits should go a long way into handicapping his criminal organization.
- Bixby Rhodes is a character created by Scott Snyder in 2011, first appearing in Detective Comics # 876. This is part of The Black Mirror story arc and for those of you who have not read it you are doing yourself a great disservice. (Hey Andrew, how is that review coming along?)
- The Ghost Dragons were a street gang that first saw action in the Robin mini-series from 1991. Tim Drake is my favorite Robin and as such to me this particular story is still enjoyable to read. Tim sets off on globe trotting adventures to cement his training as Batman’s sidekick by attempting to recreate Bruce’s journey of discovery. The first appearance of the Dragons in the New52 was in Detective Comics # 13 where they were hired to assassinate Bruce Wayne. The level of skill that the pre-New52 Dragons had compared to the post Dragons is laughable.
- Julia Pennyworth is sometimes referred to as Julia Remarque. Remarque being the last name of the man who raised her. Julia Pennyworth was the child of Alfred and Marie, a French resistance fighter during World War II. Julia appeared in several dozen comics in the early 80’s but she was done away with during the Crisis of 86. This new Julia has had a serious upgrade. During her time on the Batman Comics it had a soap operaesque thing going on and I think she was brought in to give Vicki and Selina someone else to be jealous over.
- You want to see Forbes squirm.
- Your a fan of Jiro, the Batman of Japan.
- You’re dying to see Catwoman do something in character.
- Batman fighting ninjas gets you excited.
There are some important plot progressions and plenty of satisfying action. Sets up the next issue quite nicely.