I’ll be honest, I read Batman #37 first this week, so anything that followed was bound to be a downgrade in both the visual and storytelling department, but I will try to be gentle towards Eternal. It doesn’t help that this particular serving of Eternal wasn’t all that hearty to begin with!
This is one of those issues that is spread way too thin. We have 5 different things happening, and with that many storylines going on at once, none of them are given enough pages to deliver a satisfying experience. Seeing as how there wasn’t enough happening to formulate any kind of real opinion on it, I’m going to go with a synopsis with minor commentary. Warning: the article is mostly spoilers.
We start off the story with an attempt on Selina’s life; while this was the only action set piece in this book, I can’t help but feel that it won’t actually play into the story that is being set up. It seems more like a flashy intro than a relevant encounter.
Next, we find out that all the ghosts from Arkham Asylum have followed Batwing home; while one of the ghosts definitely presents us with a creepy thought, the art isn’t technically strong enough to drive the grotesqueness of the situation home.
When we finally check in with Batman we see he has decided to hunt down the escaped Arkham inmates: I guess even though he beat them all unconscious the last time we saw them, they woke up before all those cops who fell prey to the sonic emitter from the Batplane. Batman takes his investigation to the Gotham Docks, where he runs into Killer Croc. Personally, I assumed Croc had been taken into custody in the episode where he killed all of Bone’s henchmen, but I guess I was mistaken. Croc proceeds to tell Batman that the escapees didn’t charter a boat out of Gotham and must be laying low somewhere in the city.
Turns out Croc is right: Bane, Scarecrow, Clayface, Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Joker’s Daughter are all held up together somewhere in the city. We get a terrible reference to Arkham War, after which the villains decide to work together for mutual benefit (because of their superior powers, they saw JD was with them right?). Usually, in a situation like this, the enjoyment factor comes from seeing egos and personalities clash, and while we do get some of that, the only one that I found intriguing was the interaction that occurred between Bane and Poison Ivy.
Next, we get a brief check-in with Jason Bard; and it is nice to see that his actions from last issue have not gone without ramifications. Both Bullock and Sawyer view him with contempt even though it seems he may be trying to right his wrong by dealing with one of the current problems facing Gotham. Seems Bard may be aware of how to get rid of the nano bots.
The last important piece of set up we get is an encounter between Batman and Selina. She informs him that she wants to maintain a healthy work relationship with him, and offers to give up the whereabouts of the escaped Arkham inmates to prove it.
Andrea Mutti handles art in this issue and it is very hit or miss. Some panels/pages look great while others look almost amateurish. This frustrated me more than just being given a bad artist for an issue: when you have a bad artist, you just have to accept it because that is how they draw, but when you have a book drawn by a single artist with sections that are good and others that are bad, it makes you realize what you are missing out on. Why couldn’t the entire book have been drawn with such precision? Is it all about budgeting time? I’m not sure, but like I said, it is frustrating. Since I don’t have as much to say about the actual story as I usually might, I’ll spend a little more time showing you the art. If I had to pick one single issue that I would encourage Mutti to work with, it would be the hands. Even in panels where everything else looks great, the hands still stand out as unusual.
Look at all the detail work put into every buckle and snap on Bane’s jacket, along with the mask work, then you see the weird hand on Bane’s shoulder. Oh, you think I’m just being picky? Well how about this one.
Here we see Selina looking all ravishing in a little black evening gown, not a hair out of place, but then look at her hands! Come on now, you can’t tell me that doesn’t look a little disproportionate? Ok, so maybe you don’t see an issue with the hands but what do you think of Batman’s foot in this next picture?
Other than the fact that something just seems off about the entire image, look at his left foot. Hey, I’m not trying to be a total jerk here. I’m just calling it like I see it. If you recall, I did say that it was half and half, so here is one of the image I liked.
It has a nice panel layout with an interesting camera angle, gives you a sense of being down on the ground and in the middle of the fight. Lots of collateral damage strewn about to further immerse you in the encounter. I also get the feeling of coils being tightened, poised to spring into action. It’s dynamic and character specific.
- You are collecting all the Eternal books.
- You need to be kept apprised of the situation, so you understand next issue.
This issue was by no means bad, it just didn’t have any kind of substance to it. It is fine to have these connector issues, but if there is no plot payoff to hold the attention of the audience, then the creative team needs to find some other way to make what is going on more engaging and entertaining. In the past, I have given some of these connector issues higher scores, but this particular one just felt like a cookie cutter tale. Here just to get us to the next big thing. However, if you’re looking to read something awesome, check out Batman #37. It came out today as well, and far more worth your time.