James Tynion IV crafts a character driven story, but I felt like he failed to represent half of the characters in an appropriate way. It had a strong plot and some great scenes between Batman and his scene partners but at the same time the visuals were less than stellar and some of the other character interactions we were treated to did not seem natural and appeared really off to me. I feel like I would have enjoyed this issue more, as recounted by a friend, rather than by reading it myself. I say that because it is only when you get down to the specifics of the issue that it start to fall apart for me. I can see where a synopsis of this would sound really awesome but in practice it definitely has plenty of kinks.
I really enjoyed the back and forths between Batman and Julia. She isn’t witty in that same way that Alfred is but she has her own sense of humor that I find mildly refreshing. She makes a great little quip, about the Batcave being a 12 year old’s dream headquarters, and when you think about it, it really does look like some outlandish design a child would be sketching out in crayons! No… I’m not making fun of the Batcave, I wish I had one! (and I’m not denying I might be a 12-year old at heart) But it is definitely more form than function. The other scenes that were really good in this particular story were the ones between Batman and Hush. Hush plants some seriously low blows on Batman all while hiding well beyond his reach. The idea of being mocked and insulted while likewise being incapable of doing anything about it, is something I am sure we can all relate to, or at least realize wouldn’t be fun.
There aren’t any characters hooking up in this issue but Jason and Tim tease each other about liking the girls they are working with. Just so you guys know where I stand on this issue, Jason/Batgirl or Tim/Harper is not something I have any interest in reading about. While I could see Jason hitting on Batgirl (since it is in his character to do so) the idea of anything coming from it would be ridiculous, in my mind. Is there some reason why, in a storybook world, men and women can’t work together without developing feelings for one another? And while the scene with Jason and Tim is amusing, it seems totally out of character, to me, for them to be engaging with one another in this way. They act all brotherly and chummy but they have never been this way with each other before! I’d be highly more likely to have believed this scene if it was taking place between Dick and Tim, but not with Jason.
Not only were the interactions between Tim and Jason peculiar but between Barbara and Jim as well. Whatever Barbara is going through right now, it is nowhere near as trying as what her dad is going through, so why doesn’t she just suck it up and talk to him. I’m sure the guy could use some cheering up and moral support. I know she is doing all this stuff to free him and it isn’t working out but did she ever stop to think that what he really needs, is for her to be there for him and talk to him and that running around trying to clear his name is nowhere near as helpful to him as a kind word might be? Hey! New52 Barbara Gordon! Pull it together already, will you!
Now, on to the…art. The last few issues of Eternal have had covers by Fabok/Anderson with internals done by a different artist, so it was no surprise to open the issue and not see their work inside, but what was a surprise was how poor the work was. I really hate when I have to put an artists work down because they actually took the time to create something physically, and that in and of itself is impressive, but if I don’t like it, I have to be honest, and G.M. Guera’s work was not to my liking. Is it the worst stuff ever?, not at all. But it doesn’t belong in Eternal. If I’m buying a nationwide publication I expect to see something that I couldn’t do myself and this is not that. The three things that I found most dissatisfying about the art was: the disparity in the characters faces from one panel to the next, the occasional lacking of detail, and the peculiar/unnatural way in which the characters looked when they were in action. I’m going to focus on the facial disparity since that is the element I found most distracting. I’d like to pick out specific shots but the truth of the matter is you can look at almost any face in this issue and it looks weird. The only one that didn’t bug me was the shot of the little girl with the water jug, she gets a pass, but the rest are so unnatural looking. Sometimes they had an almost mannequin like demeanor about them. Compare any two faces from the same character and your likely to find varying degrees within the details that define their face. If they weren’t wearing the same costume from panel to panel I would almost argue that they look like different characters. Lips, chins, noses, and eyes all change thickness, distance, and inclination. I’ll share with you my two least favorite. On page 16, there is an image of Hush in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd panels. I know he is supposed to be creepy looking here but try looking at that face and saying, “duuhhhh.” That is what I see when I look at that shot. Not Hush but Jerry Lewis (Think, Nutty Professor). The other one I’ll share is on the top of page 17. What is Batman doing, pouting like a petulant child? Ugh! Just so I’m doing something other than complaining, I will say that I like the way the car windows blew out from the shockwave of the explosion and I liked that shot of the riot scene as viewed through the spires of those buildings in the foreground.
- Wait, Red Robin just started her training and Harper can already do some crazy throw like that?
- Hey Julia, the Batcomputer doesn’t need to be user friendly. It’s not like Bruce and Alfred want to market the operating system to the broadest user base possible. It’s used by 2 or 3 different people.
- Why do they feel the need to make Red Robin look bad in order to make Harper look good? Can’t she just stand on her own merit?
- Did somebody read a Spider-Man comic before writing this script? First Harper says, “Just your friendly neighborhood…” That is one of Spider-Man’s catch phrases. Then Red Robin ensnares Harper in something by…clicking a button on his palm? Sorry, that one is a Spider-Man thing too. And what was that all about anyway? Since when does the bottom half of Red Robin’s bandolier/belt thing do that? Seriously, that is a real question. I don’t read Teen Titans. Is that normal Red Robin stuff or is this a first?
- I know I said I wouldn’t harp on the Penny-one/Penny-two thing anymore but I am pretty sure that Red Robin just sarcastically made fun of the Penny-two codename.
- Why is Barbara being all secretive with Jim. It is not beyond the realm of believability that Batman would visit Barbara to reassure her about the situation and keep her updated on his progress. And that he might give her info that she could pass along to Jim. That scenario wouldn’t raise any red flags in my mind.
- Julia goes, “Family?” Yes Julia, haven’t you ever heard of Batman & —-. Gotham is filled with tons of Bat related vigilantes. On top of that you have been wandering around the cave so, even if you haven’t heard of them in the news or something, there are about a dozen different costumes on display right behind you in those glass display columns. Acts all snide because she was able to crack the Blackgate security but can’t open her eyes and see what is right there in front of her. I guess if it isn’t as big as the T-Rex, it escapes her attention.
- Next: The History of Hush. This is the preview for next issue. I hope and pray they just do a recap/synopsis of the background information obtained from the 2003 storyline and the Heart of Hush one, only changing things when absolutely necessary. If they do something new and it isn’t better than what we already have, you know I am going to tear it apart!
- Which protege do you think Hush is referring to when he says one of them is getting close to the edge of the puzzle?
- Poor Alfred….pure fear toxin shot directly into his brain. Well, at least they didn’t kill him by smashing him to death with a giant bolder again. What am I talking about? Detective Comics #328 (1964). Alfred ends up sacrificing his life to save Batman & Robin, when he pushes them out of the way and is crushed by a boulder that was meant for them. Alfred didn’t die however, some mad scientist does experiments on him with a ray gun turning him into a monster with white skin (remember, it is the 60’s). He becomes a super villain by the name of Outsider, and in his now warped mind, the love that he had for Batman & Robin is swapped with hate, and he embarks on a quest to kill them. This plot line continues either as the main thread of issues or as a background element for the next 3 years! Talk about playing the long game. In Detective Comics #356 (1966) Outsider gets zapped with that same ray gun and turns back into Alfred. Did not say I recommended the story, just an interesting fact…
- You like Julia’s snarky attitude.
- You’re more into character interactions than action.
While this issue had some enjoyable character interactions, it had just as many character depictions that were ill-fitted to the individuals displaying them. The art in this issue also receives a serious downgrade from what I have come to expect from the team involved with this comic. While I would like to tell you that this is a skippable chapter of Eternal, I am afraid that there are a few important things that happen, that you will most likely want to read for yourself. And there is always the occasional enjoyable joke.