This week in Eternal we start off a new story, within the bigger story, focusing on Arkham and it is actually pretty good.  I say it this way because I’ve never been a big fan of supernatural stuff in my Batman stories.  Having said that, the Batwing/Corrigan sections ended up being my favorite part of this comic.  It wasn’t the supernatural element that made them work for me, but the tone and the mounting tension.

The two characters really worked great together, a nice juxtaposition of Science vs Mysticism.  Batwing discusses everything from a technical standpoint through his suit’s readings while Corrigan’s dialogue is much more poetic.  Batwing is our window into the story since he doesn’t understand what is going on.  As Corrigan explains it to him, he is also explaining it to us. However,  I’m still wondering what an Aetheric Pylon is.  The tension that I mentioned earlier is just like out of a scary movie.  You know something is going to happen but you have no idea when and where it is going to come from.  There is a waxing and waning of both characters’ confidences that occurs that I found very engaging.  It felt to me like whenever one character began to doubt, the other became his strength, and so they pushed on into the darkness.  It was that and the uncertainty that made it entertaining for me, both of which could have been present with or without the supernatural element.

The majority of this issue is dedicated to the Arkham scenes, while the rest are just check-ins/set-ups for stories to come.  The two-page Batman inclusion was in my opinion unnecessary and quite frankly undermined the tension established in the last issue between Bard and Batman.  In another plot line, there is a character who pops up and it is kind of contrived as to why she is there, just to throw another character in the mix it seems to me.  Even Batgirl is like, “You have got to be kidding me.”

Another strange thing that caught my attention is the jumbled up time lines that occur.  The last time we saw Batwing and Corrigan was in issue six as they were walking toward Arkham.  They haven’t just been standing around in a field for the last nine issues which means that their story is taking place in the past while the rest of the stories in the issue are taking place in the present.  Further evidence of this, is Corrigan mentioning that Batman is busy with the gang war that got wrapped up last issue.  There is nothing about this that actually interferes with the flow of the story or causes any continuity error, I just thought it was worth mentioning as it threw me for a moment.

I really have to acknowledge Dustin Nguyen on this issue.  The Joker’s Daughter only appears in two panel, but for the first time ever, I felt like the character was actually creepy – with her giant googly-eyes peering from the darkness.  The way she was hunched over with her  knuckles dragging on the floor reminded me of how apes do the same thing and it made her seem much more primal and threatening.   In general, I thought Nguyen’s style really lent itself well to the subject matter and locations of the story.  Everything was very unfocused, the way it appears when you walk around your house at night without the lights on.  At first, I thought there wasn’t enough detail in some of the panels but then I realized that it translated much better without it.

I wasn’t a fan of Harper’s mask.  If you look at it on the cover, it is just fabric with two tears in it for eye holes.  The cover mask looks cool but on the inside once she dons it, it has white lenses with black eyeliner (Grifter anyone?).  In my opinion they should have left the tears and been able to see her eyes.  It would have added to the fact that she really is still a novice at this and doesn’t have professional gear yet.  She is still make-shifting it.  I appreciated the fact that Red Robin’s cape appeared to be made of cloth and not super long metal fins.  I don’t really care for the wing look, and while this was most likely just Nguyen’s take on it and we will see the metal wings again, it was still nice to see a traditional cape.

Spoiler

  • Where is Deacon Blackfire at?  He was hinted at almost at the beginning of the series.  I hope he has a more major role to do with whatever is happening below Arkham and wasn’t just another quick cameo that Eternal seems to love doing.
  • Hey, Red Robin, if she wants to call you Robin don’t complain.  I still refer to you as Robin when I talk about you.
  • Nygma doesn’t use magic?  Allow me to direct your attention to Batman #452-454(1990).  It’s a Riddler story involving black magic rituals.  Check it out.  I brought this up in another review and the fact that I am bringing it up again should tell you it is worth a read.  Coming from someone who doesn’t like the supernatural, this must be a really good story for me to overlook that.
  • Mister Bygone?  Is this an actual new character?  I don’t recognize him.
  • Below is the text that appears on the Riddler’s wall and according to DC it actually means something so everyone get busy deciphering it before next week’s issue.
  • FFFXD VDGDD VFDAV VAFXF
    VDAVA FVADA AGGGA VXXXD
    XGVGA AVGAX DXVFV AXDAG
    FXAVX XFXGD AAFAD VAXGX
    VVXVD FFDVA FDGVD AFXFF
    DDVXG AXAXV FGGAG FDXXX
    XXXXV AXFXA VXFAG XGXX

Cameo Counter: 2, Magpie and The Ten-Eyed Man.

Interesting Facts:

Magpie

  • Magpie (Margeret Pye) first appeared in The Man of Steel #3(1986).  Her first appearance in Batman was later that same year in issue 401.  The character didn’t amount to much more than just a jewel thief and some might say the most relevant thing she ever did was die.  Look her up in Google and the first image that appears is her death panel from Batman #651(2006).  Died?  Then what is she doing in this comic.  You have 2 options to go with here.  Either the New52 wiped out her death or they are going with her still being alive from when the Black Lanterns resurrected her.  I don’t know, take your pick.

Ten-Eyed-Man

  • The Ten-Eyed Man (Philip Reardon) first appeared in Batman #226(1970).  The cover I have here is actually from #231 because I like it better.  In the story he is a security guard who gets knocked unconscious by some robbers.  The robbers then place some dynamite to blow up the safe door.  Batman shows up on the scene just in time to stop the bomb but Reardon wakes and with vision blurred from his head injury thinks Batman is a robber.  The two fight and just as the bomb goes off his vision clears enough for him to see Batman.  When he wakes it turns out that the explosion has taken his sight and for some reason he blames Batman for it.  Then using made up comic book science some doctor attaches his optic nerves to the tips of his fingers, which somehow lets him see through his finger tips?!?!  What!?!?!?
  • “Dife Nwa Sove M” means Black Fire Escape Me in Haitian.

Recommended if…

  • You like when characters who are counterpoints to one another are placed together.
  • All that magical, abracadabra, hocus pocus stuff is your pot of bubbling witches brew.
  • You’re a fan of the horror genre.
  • Dustin Nguyen.  No, that’s it, just Dustin Nguyen.

Overall:

The Arkham sections really surprised me and held my attention despite my lack of interest in the supernatural, and that is a good thing because the rest of the issue, while not much, was just setup for the stories to come.

SCORE: 7.5/10