Batgirl finally confronts Bard!  I have really been looking forward to this exchange and knew it had to be coming sooner or later (once Bard was outed as an agent of Hush).  However, I can’t believe it took us six issues to get to this point!  It does not seem like anything Barbara has been up to all that time should have taken priority for her over this moment. But don’t jump for joy just yet, we still have to wait till next issue to see how their interaction is resolved!  I know what some of you might be thinking: this comic is 20 pages long… how could they not have enough time for a resolution?! Well… this issue has 6 different story lines in it!  6!!!  Sure, we are getting more for our money, but at the same time it does seem a little overcrowded to me.  On my first read through I found it a little disjointed as it cut all over the place. On my second read through, however, it gave a sense of haste as opposed to confusion since I already knew what to expect.

If you have read the solicitations, the only thing you were expecting to see was a small dose of Catwoman.  In reality, what we get is: Catwoman, Batman, Batgirl, Jason Bard, Killer Croc, Leslie Thompkins, Jade McKillen, Louis “Bone” Ferryman, Drago Ibanescu, Spoiler, and Eduardo Flamingo!  Oh and they even have that gang with the metal face plates show up!  The last time I even remember seeing them was when Batman squared off with a bunch of them in a subway station and ended up magnetizing all their faces to a passing train (What issue was that?  Was it even in Eternal?  I don’t think it was.  I think it was in one of those first issues of Batman from awhile back.).  While this is a lot of characters and a lot of different stories to be following all in one issue, they still manage to maintain a logical correlation between one another.  The only one that doesn’t directly connect with the others is the Bard/Batgirl encounter.

The plot that gets the most attention is the one that involves Catwoman and Batman, but with so much going on, it only ends up being 1/4 of the issue.  Nonetheless, if you are a fan of the Feline Fatale, you should be pleased with this serving!  She and Batman have a great exchange about personal vendettas and the fight scene with her and several gang members couldn’t be more Catwoman-like, filled with plenty of athleticism and whip action.  Very enjoyable!  The only moment I thought was out of character was when Batman/Catwoman briefly exchange some witty banter during the fight with the mob members.  I can see Catwoman doing it, but Batman usually gets down to business and doesn’t say too much while he beats you into unconsciousness; it just seemed a little more Dick Grayson than a Batman thing.  One other thing that was also a little peculiar for me was seeing Catwoman call Batman: “Mr. Batman”;  I think that might have more to do with me remembering how Talia Al Ghul used to call him that in the 70’s, rather than it actually being weird though.

I kind of hope Batgirl will just beat the truth out of Bard, as opposed to Batman having to find Hush by hitting the streets (and some thugs).  Sure, it might be a level of brutality that even the police wouldn’t turn a blind eye to, but Barbara is used to being hunted by the police so it wouldn’t be a big thing to her.  At this point, I’m sure she would be fine with the ends justifying the means.  I was also surprised to see Killer Croc handling some detective work of his own: I’m enjoying this take on Croc, much less mentally animalistic than he is sometimes portrayed.  I’m probably enjoying it even more so since it is a callback, in my mind, to how the character used to be portrayed back in the 80’s, as actually rather intelligent.  One of the characterizations in this issue that didn’t seem correct to me was that of Jade McKillen.  She isn’t a character we have had much exposure to but I don’t see the same lippy girl here, always ready with a comeback, as we have seen her in previous issues of Eternal.

Sometimes it’s unclear as to when events are taking place in Eternal.  I’m not really talking inside of a single issue but from one to the next and so forth. Something that would help us establish the passage of time would be a much welcome addition. Just as an example, at the end of last issue the Bat-Family was quelling riots and Batman was determining how to find Hush.  Is this story happening that same night, or is this the next night, or even a week later?  The problem I had with Barbara waiting so long to confront Bard could easily be solved with such a fix.  To me it feels like it has been a month or more since she came back from South America but in the story itself it may have been only 4 days for all I know. To be honest, it is really hard to tell!  It isn’t a huge problem but it is something that I am curious about.

Javier Garron is handling art duties this issue and boy am I happy.  I’m not a Javier groupie or anything, but after the last two issues, it is indeed a welcome artist switch.  The first thing I noticed was how animated his character faces are.  It was enjoyable to look at, and a lot of the times I felt that the character’s body language and face gave even more power to the dialogue.  He even made Batman slightly more animated than usual.  The only shot I thought looked a little uncharacteristic was the one of Batman pulling a “Thinker”.  His work was also full of a lot of fun little details as well, for example, a tooth flying through the air after a thug got punched in the face.  I also noticed a thumbprint on the back of Batman’s head on page 7, as he is interrogating that thug.  Is this some kind of new thing that artists are doing these days?  I first noticed it in the work of Brian Buccellato/Francis Manapul from Detective Comics and now here as well.  A quick note about the cover…did anyone else think Batman’s cape seemed a little small?  I realize that it was going back into the distance so that the perspective would make it look smaller, but it still looked smaller than it should have to me.

Spoiler

  • I know Batgirl dropping Bard was supposed to be a cliffhanger, but I don’t think that anyone who is even remotely familiar with comic structure would believe for a minute that she is actually dropping him to his death.  I’m also surprised that someone in Bard’s position would really consider mocking to be the best course of action.
  • I liked the fire extinguisher/whip yo-yo action Catwoman had going on.  I also thought it was cool that instead of just doing a backhand to take out the thugs sneaking up behind him (a classic Batman move that always indicates he is aware of silly attempt to sneak up on him), Batman just used the guy he was interrogating to bludgeon them instead.
  • I thought it was hilarious when Batman is debating how the whisperers knew about the Ibanescu/Ferryman drop and Catwoman is just straight up like, “I told them!”  When Batman is like, “What?…sigh”, I really felt his exasperation in that moment.
  • So…Leslie’s hair was black when introduced in the new52, then went to being gray (like her original hair was), and now it is back to black.  I’m sensing some dissension in the ranks.
  • I found that whole hashtag #battracker thing interesting.  It was a way to put a contemporary spin on things that would definitely date the issue to this moment in time.

Interesting Facts:

  • Louis “Bone” Ferryman was a Mob Boss from the Catwoman run that Judd Winick had back in 2011-2012.  The bat you see in this issue is the same one from that storyline.
  • Eduardo Flamingo was a character created by Grant Morrison back in 2007.  He appeared in both the Batman and Batman and Robin titles at the time.
  • Jade McKillen.  I’m not sure as to the exact relationship Jade has with Erin McKillen, but Jade is definitely a relative of the character who appeared in the Peter J Tomasi Two-Face story from last year.
  • I was a little surprised this week about how much relevant information was actually given to us about the villains who showed up out of nowhere.  This isn’t typical of Eternal, but in this instance Julia filled us in on Flamingo and all the pertinent details about the Catwoman/Bone relationship came up in conversations.

Recommended if…

  • You’re a fan of Catwoman.
  • You like it when they squeeze as much story as possible into an issue.
  • You’re happy to see a new artist on deck.

Overall:

Some of this issue feels a little crowded and a little rushed at times, but there is quite a bit of good stuff being presented nonetheless.  While continuing the story already in place, I feel like the primary purpose of this particular installment was to set up a bunch of new threads, that will carry us through the next half dozen or so issues.

SCORE: 8/10