This week in Eternal we are treated to the Penguin being an absolute psychopath and boy is it intense!  No, seriously, you could cut the tension in this issue with a trick knife from a Penguin’s umbrella!  After reading this, I can’t say Blackgate is the right spot for him, send that boy to Arkham.

The Penguin is absolutely psychotic in this issue.  Some people have portrayed him as a gentleman, a business man, even for comedic purposes, but you won’t find any of that here.  This is a Penguin who is at his wits end and is downright primal.  We have seen Penguin be extremely cruel to people for insignificant reasons, always allowing henchmen to do his dirty deeds, but this Penguin I can believe would tear me limb from limb.  Who ever thought that the Penguin could be physically imposing?  If you saw this version of him in real life you’d be running, don’t lie.

This story is chock-full of amazing interactions between Penguin, Bard, Gordon, and Batman.  All of them had phenomenal moments with their corresponding scene partners.  The best is the one between Bard and Batman in my opinion.  If you saw this coming, you’re some kind of sorcerer!  Bard is really throwing his weight around in this issue.  He is definitely getting more and more confidence with every additional thing that goes right for him.  On the other hand, the Gordon stuff is just getting more depressing the further we go.  He just keeps running the conversation with his son over and over again in his mind and you can tell it is affecting him.  There is a part in this issue where his son’s offer presents itself and Gordon has to choose.  The way that it is set up is nice because something happens that interrupts his choice.  Depending on your point of view you can choose to believe either choice was a valid option but the interruption most likely pushed him in one direction over the other, and perhaps that was the point.

We hear mention of the mob boss before Falcone’s time in this issue and it is kind of strange.  He is mentioned by two different pairs of characters in two completely different locations and at no point did any of them interact with each other prior to the conversations they were having.  It just seems unlikely that, without being influenced by each other, they would happen to both be talking about the same person from a decade ago.

Let us talk about Jason Fabok for a second.  Now I know for those of you who have been reading Batman for a while, his art is nothing new to you, but this will be my first opportunity to talk about him in a review, therefore I might be saying some stuff that long time readers will find redundant.  Jason Fabok is awesome!  The man puts textural details on everything.  Walls, signs, and details in the background that we don’t even notice unless we take the time to look at them.  It is one of those things where if it was missing you would notice it but since it’s there you go along blissfully ignorant of why you are so happy.  His characters are imbued with life through sweat and blood that is sometimes literally dripping from their bodies!

The way he draws Batman, always partially in shadow, is a great detail as well.  Bruce has always adopted the darkness to his cause to strike cowardice into the superstitious and to hide just how human he really is.  It is great to see Fabok taking this tenant of the character and seamlessly integrating it.  Sometimes, it appears as if Batman is emerging from the inky blackness of his own cape!  Fabok’s profile images of Batman are also perfect.  You really get the sense that the cowl is cloth pulled over his head when you can see the contours of Bruce’s ears.

I had very few problems with this story.  The good stuff was just so good it made me kind of overlook the bad, and even the bad stuff wasn’t without merit.  I’ll hide them in the spoilers.

Spoiler

  • The whole thing with Bard, Forbes, Falcone, and Penguin wrapped up very quickly and neatly.  It totally worked, just a hair too easy for my taste.  Also, the Red Robin scene did not add anything to this issue.  Are they required to check in with him in his contract or something?
  • Even though the thought of returning to the supernatural story arc is not something I want to think about, I did enjoy the intro.  The juxtaposition of having something so frightening that the master of fear himself was petrified piqued my curiosity.  Once you realize it is just the Joker’s Daughter, the anxiety is minimized.  I do fear the Joker’s Daughter, but not for the reasons they want….she is a terrible character.
  • I’m wondering if the supernatural events of this story are going to cause Arkham to close, hence leading into the Arkham Manor title coming out in October.
  • If Rex Calabrese was nicknamed The Lion, what are the chances that Gordon’s cellmate Leo is The Lion?
  • The Roman Holiday Florist.  The Roman obviously refers to Carmine but did they just sneak Holiday in there to remind us of The Holiday Killer from Jeph Loeb’s The Long Halloween, which prominently featured Carmine?
  • Where did Batman just come from?  I know that Batman knows a lot of stuff that goes down in Gotham but how did he find out about the Gordon jail break?
  • I can’t wait to see Gordon, Leo, Falcone, and Penguin in jail together.  The lunch room is about to get very interesting.
  • I really thought Falcone was about to get killed, I really thought DC was going to do it.
  • The rooftop conversation between Bard and Batman….I did not see that coming!  Forget Joker’s Daughter, that was your ending right there.  I actually said, “ooh @!*#”, out loud to myself.

Interesting Facts:

  • Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, or as most people know him, The Penguin first appeared in Detective Comics #58 from 1941.  He wasn’t a mob boss back then, just the leader of a small gang that robbed safes of jewels and priceless statues.  In that issue Penguin pulled one over on Batman by framing him for the robberies he was committing.  In the end, he even escaped being captured after a physical scuffle with the Caped Crusader on some train tracks.  No, he didn’t beat Batman mano-a-mano, he grabbed a hold of a passing train carrying him to freedom.
  • However, it wasn’t until February 17th of 1946 that we discovered Penguins real name.  That story actually appeared in the Sunday Comics section of major newspapers.  From 1943 to 1946, not only could you find Batman in his own magazine but also daily in your local newspaper.   If your looking for this and the rest of the sunday strips you can find them in Batman: The Sunday Classics 1943-46.  

Recommended if…

  • Dialogue is where you hang your hat.
  • You’re a fan of Jason Fabok.
  • You’ve just been waiting for the Penguin to go super nova.
  • You love it when the plot moves forwards in strides.

Overall

This is a satisfying conclusion to the buildup of the last few issues, but it also sets up some plot lines that I am dying to see unfold.  I’m not talking about the one on the last page though, you can keep that, but everything else.

SCORE: 8.5/10