When you start off a Batman story with Bruce recovering from Scarecrow fear toxin, every single thing afterward is subject to speculation!  I can’t help but wonder: could it be a complete red herring that was placed there for the sole purpose of making the audience second guess everything they encounter?  If it was indeed placed there with the intention of being able to go back later and say, “See, it was all a dream!”,  then, it is totally not subtle in any way shape or form!  However, if it was placed there to get the audience on their toes with no intention from Snyder to ever reference it again, then it was a stroke of genius!

I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing actual events in the issue as I have no desire to spoil it.  This issue also contains a back-up story and I will only say one thing about it:  do not get angry while reading it!  The further I got into it, the angrier I became, until something happened, which immediately calmed me down.  Just wanted to spare some people an unnecessary rise in blood pressure.  Another elephant in the room is whether or not the events depicted in this story will in any way spoil Eternal for you.  While there isn’t a moment where Bruce flat out says anything like, “Wow!  Can you believe that Crazy Quilt was behind everything!”  You will find a hand full of things in this issue that, if you chose to use deductive reasoning, will indeed point to certain outcomes/conclusions of Eternal. So be warned! Rumors were true: reading EndGame may indeed impact your Eternal reading experience.

Going into this issue, I had a myriad amount of concerns as to what I thought it was going to be about.  Part of me was worried that it was going to be set in that Future’s End world, five years from now, that we had been seeing so much of recently.  The genesis of that speculation was a drawing Greg Capullo had shared on his twitter, depicting Batman (without his left hand) fighting alongside a grown up Harper Row and some other guy.  All the characters were wearing power suits and using laser rifles.  Fortunately this just turned out to be part of a hallucination that Bruce was having from the fear toxin, so we won’t have to see that very un-Batman like scenario unfold. Sigh of relief. I’m sure at this point some of you are wondering why I am telling you so much, after having just said that I didn’t want to spoil it for you.  Fear not, I have only touched on the first couple pages of a 31 page story, so that info is only the tip of the iceberg.  I’m not going to ruin the meat of the story… promise! … Unless of course you click the spoiler tag.  I’m just mentioning this specifically, because sometimes my spoilers aren’t always completely spoiler like, but this week they really are!

So, the cover has the Justice League on it, and my first thought upon seeing it was: JLA: Tower of Babel (2000).  (Actually my true first thought was, if I want to read a Justice League story I’ll pick up Justice League, but I digress.)  If you have never read that story, it is essentially about Batman and all his contingency plans, and how his contingency plans have contingency plans.  In the story, it is revealed that he has come up with plans on how to take out every superhero on the planet, just in case they go bad or something.  Someone steals the plans and uses them to take out the Justice League.  The heart of the story was essentially an excuse to show that Batman could kick everyone’s butt if he wanted to, without actually going there and having him do it, since he had no reason to.  While completely original and different from the story presented in Tower of Babel, Batman #35 has the same “heart” as Tower of Babel.  So if you liked what I had to say about Babel, you will most likely love this story.

What can I tell you about the issue then… The scenes between Bruce and Alfred are phenomenal, and for once Bruce actually makes a statement that elicits shock from Alfred (usually so composed).  Their relationship and camaraderie really brings a smile to my face.  We also have a ton of very insightful internal monologue that helps us establish more easily what is going on.  While Greg Capullo’s visuals are spot on, as always, it’s always nice to have a little narrative to help with the translation when necessary.  As for the art…what can I say about Greg Capullo’s work that hasn’t been said 100 times by now?  Actually, there are a ton of things both visually and story wise that I would like to delve into in detail, but I’m not going to do that.  You’re just going to have to read it yourself.

“Boys, you’ll both live forever.”  I figured that while that line worked in the story, it was also meant to be taken figuratively in the real world.  Batman has been around for 75 years.  Has outlived his creators and many others who have also contributed to his existence.  Even if some day comics are no longer published, his adventures will live on in the stories that have been.

Spoiler

  • JOKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That’s right, apparently EndGame is all about Joker.  Or so it would seem from what we are presented with thus far.
  • Going into this I had dozens of questions.  Thankfully, those have been answered, but they have just been replaced by a dozen different ones.  For instance, how is the Joker controlling them?
  • As I was reading that Back-up story I thought I was going to have a repeat of last weeks Hush rant until the woman said, “That’s not how it happened.  Not how the Joker came back…”  I think it would be amazing if the back-up stories presented 5 different ways in which the Joker might have returned but never tells you which one is true.  That way readers can pick whichever they like the most! There will essentially be something for everyone, and Joker’s life will remain multiple choice.  I truly hope that is the way they go.
  • Kelley Jones has always been an interesting artist to me, but I’ve only ever felt that his style works well in very specific stories.  That being said, his stuff is creepy and dreamlike and it worked perfectly along with the tale at hand.  Sometimes the success or failure of a story can hinge entirely upon the editor choosing the right talent for the task at hand and I feel the need to recognize Matt Humphreys and Mark Doyle for choosing Jones.  Having the right team in place to tell the story to be told is half the battle.
  • Obviously I root for Bruce, but it seemed to me that if Diana really wanted him dead she had several chances to kill him, but it looked like she was toying with him instead.  When she tells Bruce that the League is here to kill him, Bruce actually has a look of genuine panic on his face.
  • They need to destroy all that owl stuff right away, it’s giving me the creeps.  The angles that were used, it is as if the owls are still watching Bruce.  “Beware The Court of Owls, that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadow perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word of them or they’ll send The Talon for your head.”
  • I like how the dialogue got stretched out when the flash showed up!
  • The Bat-monorail.  That was totally a Batman vehicle back in the 90’s.
  • Bruce and Alfred moving from Wayne Manor to downtown Gotham reminds me of when that happened back in 1969.  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been a fan of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s work thus far.
  • You don’t want to be left out of a story that is going to be super relevant.  Trust me.
  • You’re in the mood to see a beat down!

Overall:

Is it November 12th yet?  Seriously, I can’t wait a month to find out what happens!  This really isn’t a story that you’re going to want to pass up.  If my instincts are correct, it is going to have lasting consequences.  Keep in mind that if you are attempting to have an unspoiled Eternal experience, you may want to hold off on this, for a little while at least.

SCORE: 9/10