Arrogance.  Holding the belief that one’s abilities measure up to the task at hand, when in reality, they fall short.  The story doesn’t telegraph this as its theme, but I found it prevalent enough that ignoring the possibility seemed foolish.  Julia taking on Hush, Hush taking on Batman, and finally Batman being blindsided by this issue’s cliffhanger were all things that incited this belief in me.  Keep in mind that I am not calling this out as a bad thing, on the contrary, arrogance can often lead to some very dynamic story moments, as seen in this issue of Eternal.  While what I’m calling arrogance was evenly shared between the lot of them in this issue, I find myself thinking about how Batman comes out looking much more arrogant in the New52 than Pre.

Perhaps a more apropos word to use would be fallible, brought on by arrogance.  Pre52 Batman was at times called arrogant, but the fact of the matter is: he really did have the skills to back up that arrogance, hence, nullifying it.  He was this all knowing, all seeing character who could seldom do wrong.  He often out-thought his adversaries, laying traps for them instead of the other way around.  Back in the day, the question wasn’t so much: “Is Batman going to win this one?”, but HOW?  The New52 Batman is much more reactionary than the previous incarnation; often waiting for the villain to strike, before offering any kind of opposition, as opposed to getting ahead of them and cutting them off at the pass.  He is also very set in his opinions about how to do certain things and thinking that his method is the right and only way to go about it.  Once again, this was also true of Pre52 Batman, but the difference is that Pre52 Batman didn’t make mistakes that drew his tactics into question.  It was his way or the highway, and you might not have liked it, but in the end he got results so you had to accept it.

I’m not pointing this out so much to say that one is better than the other, merely as something noteworthy to take precedence of.  I’m also not trying to say that this breakdown typifies 100% of all scenarios from either era, just that a Batman making mistakes is a more common occurrence in post 52 than pre (Examples:Denying existence of Court of Owls, following wrong lead in Icarus, all the stuff he is allowing to happen in Eternal).  Failing and getting back up to succeed in the face of adversity is often more moving than just completely owning someone out right, but they both have a certain entertainment value to them that should not be overlooked.  One of the factors that may be contributing to this, is the fact that pre52 Batman had been operating for about 15 years while the current one for only 5.  Pre52 Bats had plenty of alone time to work out his issues before the rest of the gang started showing up.  With the tightened timeline in effect, one way to look at it is that everybody is around to see him make his goofs.

So, that was a rather large tangent to go off on… let’s get to the review!

SPOILERS AHEAD!   For real.

Typically I discuss an issue in more vague terms and then drop specifics in the spoiler sections, but this time there was just too much I wanted to talk about and didn’t want the entire article hidden behind a spoiler tag.  So, here we go.

The story opens where we left off last time, with Julia confronting Hush in one of the storage caches.  I was hoping for a little more of a fight than what we got, but Julia cut it short doing something STUPID!’ She was perfectly posed behind cover and then came out for some unknown reason, then decided that witty repertoire was a better idea than taking him out and got shot because of it.  Couldn’t she have stayed where she was behind the crate, yanked him toward her with the line, and then slammed his face into the crate between them?  Her opening attack was so brutal and devastating that I thought she had this, no problem.  I mean look at this!  Something like that happens to me and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t just shrug it off!

Then Hush blows Julia up inside the weapon cache!  Wait…What!?!?  This moment completely took me out of the comic.  Not because of anything this story did, but because of the fact that several of the other bat books decided to jump ahead in time and pick up their story lines at a point after Eternal is over , even though it isn’t finished yet (thank you DC for ruining the suspense there!).  From reading other stuff, I know Julia is alive,  so seeing the size of the explosion that occurred I was trying to figure out how they were going to be able to justify her living through it (yep, that’s right, did not even get to fear for Julia’s life there… thank you DC… again!).  Granted all of this thought process happened in the span of 3 seconds and I only had to turn the page to see how she made it out, but for those 3 seconds I was seriously confused.  Before I move on from the Hush/Julia confrontation, I should also point out that Hush seems to have developed a real distaste for Batman’s sidekicks.  Seems every time he confronts one of them, or Batman, he goes out of his way to make fun of them.

The issue very quickly moves along to, what I am assuming is, Batman’s last confrontation with Hush in the Eternal series.  Much like Julia trying to take out Hush, Hush has a moment of grandeur where he actually think he can take Batman out.  For those of you not familiar with Hush; while semi formidable as a combatant, his true skills lie in his mind and in his abilities as a tactician and plotter.  Hush is always about out-thinking his opponents, so the fact that he decides to place all bets on a fist fight with the Dark Knight seems like a ridiculous plan and kind of out of character for him.  Fortunately it isn’t without a plausible excuse within the comic itself so I found myself, for once, being uncharacteristically accepting of someone acting out of character.  Turns out that Hush isn’t the Big Bad of Eternal and there is actually another person above him who is orchestrating the Batman’s demise.  If Hush doesn’t act now, he will miss his opportunity to be the one to take out Batman, as someone else is waiting in the wings to do the same.  It’s a shame that Hush had to jump the gun like this because he was actually doing really well, playing the game to his strengths thus far.  It almost has me wishing that this was all some sort of ruse, and that getting captured is part of the grand plan.  In the long run, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to find out that Hush was working for somebody else, as teaming up with other villains is kind of his thing.

The fight itself is very solid, with great action and a lot of very biting commentary from Hush.  As a finale, I can’t say I was disappointed in the least with their feud.  Hush has a particularly taunting line where he says that Bruce is nothing but a little boy playing with his toys in order to forget about his mommy and daddy.  While not entirely true, there is a grain of truth to be had, enough so that it enrages Batman to the point that Hush gets in his only physical blow during their fight (remember, I did say combat wasn’t his strong point).  Once the fighting is over, Batman tries to get Hush back verbally by saying he is a little boy crying, but for me there was a previous line that I thought should have cut Hush more deeply, and would have been a better parting line for Batman to have used:  telling him his life could have been successful.  And the truth of the matter is: if Tommy had let go of his hatred of Bruce, he would have had a good life.  He did grow up to be a handsome/charming/world renowned doctor after all.  If he could have let the whole Bruce thing go, I am sure he would have had a wonderful life.  In a way, this mirrors the fact that, Bruce too, could have had a wonderful life, if he could have moved past his parents death.

Fight

Batman is punching Hush so hard, that the panels themselves are distorted by the force of his blows!

Alvaro Martinez handles art this time around, and  I was initially sad to see Fabok go.  Coming off of a run of Fabok issues, I had been spoiled, and while I can’t say that Martinez is as good as Fabok, there is also nothing bad about his work either.  While he had some strong face work and panel layouts for the fight sequences, there wasn’t anything specific that made his work stand out as praise worthy nor did it fall to the level of criticism.  At the end of the day, the fact that I didn’t think about the art too much and just enjoyed the story is still a big positive in my book.  The one specific thing I will point out, is that the Bat knee pads are back!  For those of you not aware, I’m not a fan of the Bat knee pads.  Fortunately, he didn’t draw them overtly huge or anything so I wasn’t bothered by it, but the fact that Jason Fabok and the cover artist Rafael Albuquerque had not been drawing Batman with them for the last several issues made me think DC decided to scrap them.  So, more than anything, it was thinking they were gone and seeing them again that made me disappointed.

Sorry to get off on another tangent but here is something that I don’t understand and I was hoping someone might be able to explain to me: can the Federal Government just take over a company?  Is this like a real thing, or is this made-up comic book world laws?  Aside from them taking all of Wayne Enterprises holding, both foreign and domestic, I don’t see how this would actually effect Bruce’s personal accounts.  It’s not like he had all his money solely tied up in the company, and even if he did we can’t forget about all the secret accounts Bruce has set up to squirrel away money for his Batman efforts.  Then again, maybe New52 Bruce doesn’t have any secret accounts?  Correct me if I am wrong here, but I was under the impression that large corporations held a lot more power within the country’s infrastructure than they once did with all the lobbying and such. I will admit that I am not an overtly political individual and my understanding may be entirely fictitious in and of itself, so please feel free to share your thought s on this matter as well.

Interesting Facts:

  • Lucius Fox first appeared in Batman #307 (1979).  In the comics Lucius was never really much more than the guy who ran Wayne Enterprises.  The Christopher Nolan films seem to have propelled him to a higher standing that has afforded him more noteworthy and involved appearances within the comics.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see Julia get her butt kicked again.  (Did she just get shot in the same spot she got stabbed?)
  • You like action-packed comics.
  • You want to see the conclusion of the Hush portion of Eternal.

Overall:

This was a very solid issue filled with engaging dialogue, riveting action, and its share of twist and turns.  Eternal continues to deliver a strong and entertaining reading experience. While this issue did not wow me like the one from two weeks ago, it is still an engaging book worth your time and money.

SCORE: 8/10