If you look at the numbers on my face, you won’t find thirteen any place.  Tear one off and scratch my head; what was once red is black instead.  The eight of us go forth, not back, to protect our king from a foe’s attack.  We’re five little items of an everyday sort, you’ll find us all in ‘a tennis court’.  Care to guess who is coming to Batman Eternal?

Last time we were left in the dark, wondering why Batman would rush headlong into an obvious trap.  Oh us of little faith, doubting that Batman would have an acceptable escape plan in the wings the whole time!  Still not sure as to why he felt the need to sacrifice the Batmobile (well, maybe he just wanted an excuse to buy a new car), but he was never in any real danger from Bard’s plot.  To be honest, I’m going to chalk this one up to the creative team just wanting to leave us with a cliffhanger.  The event seems to have had no logical in world explanation, merely a plot device to provide us with a scare.  If you want to try for an explanation, one could always say it was Batman’s way of rallying the troops and allowing the rest of the GCPD to see just how crazy Bard really was.  I think that is a relatively acceptable explanation.

What was my favorite part in the whole issue?!  Bard telling Vicki Vale over the phone, how he just killed the Batman and  Vicki responding: “I’m going to hang up now, before he shows up and gives you the punch in the face you deserve.”   Vicki knows what’s up!  I really enjoyed how she handled Bard! You go Vicki! This same scenario happens time after time: every fool and his brother think they have killed Batman before he shows up and lays the beat down on them!  This has become such a classic Batman thing that it is almost stereotypical… in a good way!  This isn’t the only piece that plays to our expectations/nostalgia.  The story is brimming with classic Batman moments.  Playing to your audience can be either good or bad.  Give us too much of what we want and we think you are being uncreative, too little, and we don’t feel like you understand the characters enough.  Sometimes it’s a really fine line to walk.  As a long time reader, one of the things that you have to reconcile with is the fact that repetition will occur, but I was  happy to see so much Batmanesque stuff being implemented to capture the hearts of a new generation. (Second favorite moment, the little back and forth Jason and Barbara have in the cave.)

I’m not going to talk extensively about the art for this review.  Fernando Blanco and Marcelo Maiolo handle art duties again and provide an equal level of quality as last time.  The one thing I will point out however, is a juxtaposition that they set up between Batman and Riddler.  We see Batman examining various criminal profiles on several different monitors.  On the next page we see the Riddler examining those same villains, but as a splattering of photos about the floor connected with twine of varying colors.  It is a nice nod to Riddler’s first New52 appearance as well as a comparison between their two minds.  Order and chaos.  I loved it.

Spoiler

  • Julia just explained how easy it would be for Hush to escape that cage right in front of him.  Proximity of discussion aside, shouldn’t they have built a cage that was sturdier than that?
  • I know some people think that having Hush in the cave is a tactical mistake, but I am enjoying Hush’s nagging.
  • Batgirl is seen in her new costume.  I remember 2 months ago, people were always questioning why Bruce wouldn’t have provided Barbara with a new costume after hers got torched.  I guess we all know the answer to that now.  At the moment, Bruce has no funding to help her out.
  • I’m not sure what help Tim was planning on providing, unless he knew that Batman was going to escape and that he needed to rush to help with the roof confrontation.  I’m guessing he knew Batman was going to make it out ok, because if not, it seemed a little weird for Tim to be chatting with Harper while Batman plummeted to his death.
  • Talking about how Red Robin’s body is covered in scars, that is such a Batman thing!  I can recall several other occasions where someone has seen Bruce changing and been aghast with all his scars.  Personally, it was a sad reminder about how DC robbed Tim of his heritage.  While Dick is a worthwhile successor to the Cape and Cowl, he has become his own man.  In Dick’s own words, Tim is better at the Detective stuff and would make a better Batman than him and even Ra’s recognized Tim as being The Detective.
  • Alfred makes a quip about sandwiches.
  • There was one small detail of Bard’s backstory I didn’t take into consideration that made a difference for me.  Most of it turned out exactly as I expected, but the fact that Bard was also interested in punishing Gordon for allowing a vigilante to be active,  didn’t factor into my expectations and was a nice little extra touch.
  • I like the fact that Batman specifically points out random street crimes.  It means a lot to me that it still means something to him.  He isn’t just about taking out the big crazies, but the muggers as well.
  • The Riddler claims that the answer is beneath Batman’s intellect, and he should have figured it out by now. Do any of you, readers, feel up to the challenge of matching wits with the Riddler? Any thoughts on who the “Party Planner” is? I know there were already a few guesses last week in the comment section…

Interesting Facts:

  • Now that we have finally been given a background for Bard in the New52, it is time to discuss his previous origin(s).  That is right!  I’m sure a lot of you thought that Jason Bard was a new character, but the fact of the matter is, he has actually been around for almost 45 years.
  • Jason Bard first appeared in Detective Comics #392 (1969).  When first introduced he was a Private investigator with a knee injury that he sustained in the Vietnam war.  In the course of the comics, he also came to date Barbara Gordon;  Batman called on his services numerous times.
  • After Crisis (1985), his origin was that of a GCPD cop who was forced to retire due to a knee injury.  At that point he started his private eye service, and carried his relationship with Barbara to engagement.
  • Other relevant parts of Bard’s history include: being blinded, and being Batman’s day side helper.  Seeing as how the knee injury that required him to need a cane has also made it into the New52 version of the character, I would be curious to see if we end up with a blind Bard by the end of the story.  If not that, then perhaps the little talk Batman gave him in this issue will inspire him to give up his crazy crusade against Batman, and become the ally of Batman that all the previous versions of Bard have always been.

Recommended if…

  • You’re ready for the Riddler to join the party!
  • The secret to Bard’s origin is something you can’t go another minute without knowing the answer to.
  • You never get tired of seeing classic Batman moments.

Overall:

This story was a lot of fun!  For me, the most enjoyable aspect of this issue was the interplay between the characters and the onslaught of all the Batmanesque moments.  While nothing here was overly groundbreaking, it is nice to have a smattering of the tried and true.  It makes you feel comfortable and at home… right in time for the holidays!

SCORE:  8/10