If your coming to Batman Eternal #13 expecting action, or even Batman, then you have come to the wrong place. While you won’t be getting your action fix this week from Eternal you will be getting a step forward in the plot and an interesting exchange between the Gordons.
Often times we are presented with the understanding that Gotham is beyond conventional repair and that the only way to combat the atrocities of its criminal element is to go the route that Batman has taken. It is a nice change of pace to see that the system is not completely broken and that normal Gotham citizens can still do something to effect a positive change within their city. While it is true that Bard and Vicki have to go above and beyond (resorting to trickery and threats) to achieve their goals, it is still within the realm of believability that these methods are plausibly executed by normal people. However, Bard and Vicki are fighting a battle against an enemy using rules that their opponents won’t recognize. I can see Bard and Vicki being safe while they are in public; but their ploys have put them in real danger of being attacked behind closed doors. It’s the kind of danger that only the Batman can deal with.
The scene with Gordon and his son was very thought provoking. At first I wasn’t sure why Gordon wasn’t saying more. The courtroom scene from last issue made sense, but here there was nothing stopping him from telling his son off. Then I realized that Gordon wasn’t saying much because he was internally conflicted about what Jr. was saying, and that Jr. was probably making some intuitive deductions about his father’s state of mind. I was also left wondering how many of the things Jr. was saying could be taken as facts instead of merely his point of view. There was something unsettling about the shifts in Jr.’s dialogue when he would bring up specific details about the past that were irrelevant to the story he was telling. One of the things James Jr. wants his dad to admit is that he hates Gotham. To that I say, “What exactly is wrong with hating Gotham?” It’s not like Gordon has to love his job in order to do it right. Why couldn’t hating Gotham been his inspiration to bring about positive changes.
An element of the story that has been lacking, both here and in previous issues, is the Red Robin arc. The thing that I feel is most contributing to this, is the lack of pages being devoted to it and the jumps it takes from one event to the next. We are left not understanding how certain information was acquired or what transpired to get certain characters from A to B. In the last issue, Red Robin went to interrogate Pyg but gets interrupted and never returns. Now Robin seems to have gotten info he needed from Pyg from another source, making one wonder why the previous scene was included at all. It might have been a better use of pages showing us how he got the info and what exactly he did to discover that Sergei was the only one capable of doing it. In order to not downplay Red Robin’s sections completely, it is nice to see him doing some detective work. Even if we are left out of the loop.
Mikel Janin does the art again for this issue and I must say that I am quickly falling in love with his illustrations. Last time I raved about his expressive characters and that holds true for this outing as well. There are a couple of shots where he intentionally gives the characters goofy expressions, and I appreciate that. Sometimes when artists try to draw faces too perfect the characters end up looking like emotionless manikins. While not all of the emotions are portrayed one hundred percent successfully, I’d still rather see this than a dead gaze any day. The one prominent image of Batman in this issue is a two page spread. The image is nice and clean and really has an iconic feeling about it. I guess if your not going to have Batman in the issue a lot, then the one time he shows up had better be impressive! The only mistake I noted, and this has more to do with the colorist, was Warren’s hair/beard. He has always been depicted with gray/white hair. When we are in Mario’s office his hair is gray/white but when we step out into the cubicle area it is brown.
I appreciate the way that the female characters in Eternal are being drawn. I had more time to reflect on it in this issue because Vicki has a lot of pages devoted to her. She isn’t drawn with exaggerated physical proportions or revealing/form fitting clothing the way most comic females are. She looks like a normal person, wearing normal clothing and that is great. It is nice to see someone looking realistically attractive. I think the character, as portrayed here, is a great role-model. She is a successful intelligent woman who gets stuff done and all while not flaunting her assets in a medium that is notorious for doing so.
-Many people are familiar with the Cluemaster from his run during the 90’s, but were you aware that he predates those. His first appearance was from Detective Comics #351 from 1966. We are not presented with an origin story but just a random new villain who is attempting to discover Batman and Robin’s identities. Or, as this issue refers to them, The Masked Manhunter and the Teen-Age Thunder-Bolt…..
-In case you forgot or never read it, Sergei Alexandrov was the mentor Bruce had in the back-up story of Batman #22. In it, he had Bruce escape from a pyramid using a bunch of random things.
-you want to see the GCPD do something for a change.
-you’re always happy to see a family reunion, even if it is with a psycho.
-Mikel Janin’s realistic depictions of people impress you.
It’s nice to see a Gotham that can actually function without the constant assistance of Batman. While there are those of you out there who are going to be disappointed that we didn’t get to see Batman do anything, it is still a nice change of pace from the tried and true.