I am aware that a lot of you are concerned about #34 and/or the End Game story line (coming up in October)  potentially ruining events from Eternal, as End Game is set after Eternal.  As a warning, there are a couple of things that could be viewed as spoilers, but for the most part it is pretty safe to read.  I might suggest you skip page 8+9 as the bulk of the potential spoilers are located there.  It is a 2-page spread featuring Batman swinging over a cityscape, rendered with yellow hues.  Spotted around are 6 smaller panels, all in blues, showing the events that Batman is thinking about as he travels across Gotham.  I say “potential spoilers” because some of it is intentionally worded in a vague manner; leading me to wonder why they even chose to include it.  Although most of it is contained there, another minor spoiler happens later on; not that it tells you something that will happen in Eternal but, more to the effect, tells you something that doesn’t (or does it, I can’t wait to chat in the comments with you guys about this issue).  Now on to the actual review!

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Snyder puts forth a tale filled with suspense and genuine horror as we follow the Dark Knight through all too realistic and recognizable environments on his path to catch a nameless killer.  This psychopath isn’t dressed in a colorful costume, nor is he doing his ghastly deeds for attention.  His motivation is entirely his own and done to feed a personal need.  This is the kind of unhinged individual we fear in the real world.  Pulled from our reality and placed in the story, this villain is truly scary because someone like him could actually exist. Everything about this issue is dark and unwelcoming.  From the muted colors, right down to the grit and grime that seems to pervade everything.  If you don’t end up being at least a little disturbed, then I am at a loss.

Matteo Scalera handles art duties in this issue and does a fitting job of it too.  I’ve already mentioned the muted colors and the grittiness of the environments; but there was another thing about his particular style that struck me as I was definitely feeling some Norm Breyfogle in his line work, from time to time.  By no means is it represented everywhere in his art, but I noticed it most heavily on page 14+15, in the way he drew the characters faces, especially in the killer’s eyes and nose bridge.  His rendering of the dog and the light flair from headlights and flashlight also looked like something right out of a Breyfogle issue.  In general, though, I felt like his work was inconsistent.  Sometimes, things were nice and clean; and when they were, they were beautiful; but other times, things seemed a little muddied.  I’m not getting to picky with this, as I considered that it might have been intentional, to highlight the overall oppressive feeling that permeates the book.

At the end of the day, the real point of this issue is to get people excited and talking about the future. In that regards, I think it has definitely succeeded.  I wanted to talk more in depth about this issue but anything else I might say would spoil everything.  Just go read it so we can talk about it already! I wait with bated breath for your comments… Fair warning to anyone not wanting to be spoiled:  you probably shouldn’t check out the comment section as it is likely to be ripe with conjecture.  I also theorize a little in the spoiler section below.  So if you don’t want to see that, I suggest you keep away.  You’ve been warned.

Spoiler

  • Batman is wearing his holographic mask, but that doesn’t explain how putting on the Doctor’s white coat made him able to shrink in size.  Also, wouldn’t the killer have felt the armor through the coat, or better still, felt that Thompkin’s throat was a little too rigid under his arm.  The holo-mask may have made his cowl look like flesh but it wouldn’t feel like flesh.
  • Haha.  Even a Psychopath is freaked out about being locked up in the Joker’s cell.  That is how you know when you are the king of the crazies.  When other Psychopaths fear you.
  • The second I saw that little smile peak out from underneath that red ball cap I thought it was odd that they were giving him a Joker jaw.  As they kept doing it throughout the issue I became more and more certain that it was intentional.  Obviously, when they threw him in the cell this became confirmed, but it brought up interesting questions:  are we to assume that the Joker actually died at the end of Death of the Family and that his soul is about to be reincarnated into this guy?  The New52 Joker never had a pointed chin the way the pre-New52 Joker did.  Also, in Batman #17, when we see the Joker he even has the facial scars that Ledger had in The Dark Knight.  I could see how this might become their solution for bringing back Joker, dealing with his face, and making him look more like the classic image of the Joker we are all familiar with.
  • Since this issue is taking place during Eternal it is possible that the return of Joker could be the finale of Eternal, or the subject of End Game.  Let us discuss in the comments section….shall we.

Interesting Facts:

  • In this issue, a certain cell is visited and the inmate number listed on the door is actually correct.  You have no idea how happy it made me to see 0801 on the door.  Sorry if I spoiled anything for the 10 people who actually know the inmate’s numbers by heart.
  • Leslie Thompkins first appeared in Detective Comics #457(1976).  In the story, Batman visits Crime Alley on the night of his parents murder and walks with Leslie.  In a flashback, we learn that Leslie was there that night long ago and was the first person to offer a distraught Bruce comfort.  As the story changed over the years Leslie evolved into a Doctor who ran a clinic in Crime Alley for the underprivileged.  She was also one of the few people who actually knew Bruce was Batman.  It seems that in recent years they are giving the role she used to play as comforter to Gordon, but she still maintains her knowledge of the Bruce/Batman connection within the New52.

Recommended if…

  • You’d rather not sleep tonight.
  • You want a sneak peak at what Snyder has coming up.
  • You love inmate 0801!

Overall:

Snyder, who typically goes for “epic” storytelling, reels himself in for a oneshot that makes your skin crawl.  Featuring a villain so simple in nature he could actually be real, you’re left feeling insecure about those noises outside your bedroom window.

SCORE: 8/10

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