Who is the mysterious Mr. Bygone?  Is the Joker’s Daughter actually taking her orders from the Joker?  Do Corrigan and Batwing make it out of the depths of Arkham in one piece?  Will Vicki and Bard ever go out on a date?  What is the shocking event that makes Harper and Red Robin realize they can trust each other?  All these questions and more NOT answered in this exciting installment of Batman Eternal.

In the last issue of Eternal we were treated to the tensions of the unknown and while I enjoyed that ride, I am now finished with it and ready for something concrete.  Having another whole chapter in which no questions are answered feels a bit like they are just stretching this story out longer than it needs to be.  I am not trying to dislike this story.  If something relevant or moving had occurred then I would have been willing to overlook this, but most of the content of this story is, unfortunately, forgettable. Going into the last issue I thought I was going to hate it but it surprised me and I found it most enjoyable, therefore, going into this my expectations were raised and not meet.

The two major confrontations that happened at Arkham were both anticlimactic and lacking any kind of buildup to make the characters’ success in their endeavor seem satisfying.  Corrigan overcomes his ordeal internally, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I wish they would have translated it differently, at least showing some effort on his part.  Corrigan’s foe is given a vague back story that doesn’t clue us into his motivations and Batwing’s adversary is nothing more than a “meat puppet”.  Unlike last issue where Corrigan explaining stuff to Batwing filled us in on what was going on, the characters division has eliminated that helpful method of storytelling so we are left somewhat in the dark.

While I wasn’t too pleased with the story this week, there were a few diamonds in the rough.  Batwing is very condescending when he is talking to Joker’s Daughter and I found that very satisfying.  It is almost as if Batwing is saying what I am sure most of the fans are thinking:  Who does this person think she is?? and since she is a nobody is her claim to fame really  going to be riding on the coat tails of an actual super villain??  Makes me think DC might be self-aware of the fact that there is a lot of hate for the character and are using it to their advantage.  Anybody else think we need to bring back the 1-800 number stunt to kill a character?  Harper also had some nice comebacks to zing at Red Robin that made me chuckle and the idea that Vicki is going to use Bard the way he used her is a nice little flip.

Dustin Nguyen serves as artist again, and again delivers some beautiful work.  The man definitely knows how to draw a good Batman.  Even the silhouettes of the character are spot on and somehow are even more powerful than the fully rendered ones.  It makes me sad that Batman has appeared so seldom in Nguyen’s issues of Eternal so far since he draws a striking portrayal of the character.  Once again his depictions of the underbelly of Arkham are unsettling, however, I would have liked to have had a little more detail work done in the backgrounds of the Batwing/Maxie fight.  A few of those panels are completely blank.  Another part that I think could have used some more definition was the electronics retail store that served as the front for Sergei.  I didn’t realize where they were at first; but once I got to the Sergei reveal and saw the peg board around him with the merchandise hooks I figured it out.

Spoiler

  • I thought this story contained two teases that got my hopes up and then tricked me.  First was the idea that Joker’s Daughter was taking her orders from “Daddy”, meaning to me the Joker.  Second was Corrigan mentioning a dead enemy of Gotham.  If we assume Joker died at the end of Death of the Family then it could have meant him.  There is no need to make a story about bringing him back to life, as they could chalk his surviving up to the fact that he always cheats death, but this could have been where they were headed.
  • Bard seemed a little hostile towards Vicki.  Before he was fine with bending some rules but now he is all by the book?  He was fine when she went on raids with him before when it was serving his needs but now that he has the ball rolling in his favor he is just going to ignore the people that helped him get to where he is?  Telling someone to get lost and then offhandedly asking them for a date is a pretty quick turnaround.
  • In my last review we talked about the riddle that was left behind by the Riddler in his cell.  As it turns out Sean Buckley (one of the comic reviewers here at Batman-News) pointed out that it looks like a German Code Cypher from World War I.  We still don’t know what it means but perhaps someone can figure it out using Sean’s info.  Look in the comment section of Batman Eternal #15 review to see what Sean had to say.  Seeing as how Batwing is still working on it and DC said it would be important to a future story I think it would be cool if one of our readers cracked it before it gets revealed in the comic.

Interesting Facts:

  • Deacon Blackfire first appeared in Batman: The Cult(1988). It was a 4 issue mini-series and was written by Jim Starlin.  If you have never read this I strongly, STRONGLY recommend you go out and find yourself a copy.  The ideas presented first in this comic appear years later in other more “epic” and well remembered stories.  Examples of this would be, No Man’s Land or the recent Zero Year where a criminal element took over the entire city; Blackfire did it first.  Blackfire also “breaks” the Batman which predates Knightfall by several years.  If you have ever read A Death in the Family, also written by Starlin, there is a scene in which Bruce mentions Blackfire.  In The Cult, the Deacon takes over Gotham using the homeless population and live in the sewers.  Gotham underground anyone?  From what we have learned thus far in Eternal, the original The Cult can be placed into this continuity with little to no alterations, so it might almost be helpful for people to read it.  If not, it is still an excellent story that has inspired tons of other work in my opinion and you should give it a try.
  • Professor Milo first appeared in Detective Comics #247(1957).  Yes the character is that old.  I am sure that many of you might also recall Professor Milo being on several different episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.  Those episodes are in part largely inspired from comics from the 70’s.  In fact the episode entitled Moon of the Wolf is pulled from a story of the same name featured in Batman #255 and drawn by 70’s all star artist Neal Adams.
  • Maxie Zeus first appeared in Detective Comics #483(1979).  I am not going to go into too much about Maxie since I am not certain that the Maxie from this story and the original Maxie are even supposed to be the same character.  The only things that I have to go on right now is the name, the same facial hair, and the fact that he is held in Arkham.  I will point out however that there is another Batman story from 1980, issue 327, in which both Milo, Maxie, and Arkham are all featured.  If it turns out to be Maxi Zeus or that the 1980 plot is relevant to Eternal I shall bring it up at a later date.
  • For anyone who didn’t understand my joke about the 1-800 number…back in 1988 DC decided to leave the fate of Robin(Jason Todd) up to the readers.  If you called one number he lived and the other he died.  Not that they would need two numbers for Joker’s Daughter….

Recommended if…

  • You’re a fan of Dustin Nguyen’s artwork.
  • You like snappy comebacks, while few, were still fun.
  • You’re ok with keeping the mystery alive.

Overall:

As sad as it is for me to say this, I found that this was a skippable chapter.  I felt like this issue was primarily filler and boiled down to the essentials could easily have been told in a couple of pages, not 20.

SCORE: 3.5