Killer Croc vs Bane, Batman cake-walks through the escaped inmates, and Scarecrow gives his professional evaluation of the ensemble.  What’s not to like?  Well, the art to start with, but we will get to that later…

I feel like the current story arc is trying to overplay the importance of Batman’s toys.  While there are indeed characters in comics who, without their powers or gadgets, are helpless, Batman isn’t one of them.  Take away his money and toys and Batman still maintains a high level of skills: he is essentially a ninja, master of the martial arts, Olympic level athlete, chemist, inventor, escape artist, detective, acrobat, hacker, master of disguise, tactician, and genius.  I’ve seen the man MacGyver his way out of every conceivable scenario known to man (and even those not known to man).  Are we really meant to believe that without his stuff in tow he is defenseless?  Are the writers merely trying to generate a false sense of concern for the character?

While we are initially lead to believe that this will be a difficult mission for Batman to undertake, it turns out to be a cake walk.  While I was actually pleased to see that the omission of his toys wasn’t actually to his detriment, it was strange that we were ever meant to think that it would be.  The only villain among the bunch who truly required any form of technical apparatus to detain should have been Clayface.  There was actually an entire arc in Batman: The Dark Knight series that was devoted to Clayface’s apprehension, and the difficulties of holding such a foe.  In this issue, while he was taken down with tech, the simplicity of the tech used to take him down made his last story seem gratuitous in nature.

Crane’s evaluation of the other characters is both interesting and irrelevant all at the same time.  Going with the idea that Crane is nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is draws his analysis into question.  Something we were meant to think of as insightful, turns out to be rather hackneyed at best.  Even more so when his thoughts are coupled with the characters he is discussing, and they seem rather unaffected by the assumptions he is making.

My favorite sections of the book involved the confrontation between Killer Croc and Bane.  While part of my enjoyment might have stemmed from my previous experience with these characters and their antecedents,  there is still something to be said about the enjoyment gained from seeing

Spoiler
the underdog win. 

Andrea Mutti handles art again, but thankfully this and the previous issue are Mutti’s only contributions to Eternal.  While there is nothing overtly horrendous about the art, it lack a certain sense of anatomical correctness that I find particularly distracting.  Hands disfigured, feet and other body parts askew from the natural angle of the rest of the body, and generally less detailed than some other artist who have contributed to the title.  Like I said in my last review,  these issues are not rampant throughout the entire comic.  It seems to me that the real problem here is with consistency.  Some panels and character work looks entirely acceptable (even good) while others are a total mess.

This issue had me going back and forth quite a bit as to how I felt.  Many elements had both positive and negative reactions all at once.  Happy to see how easy it was to take down the inmates, confused as to why they tried to make us think it would be hard.  Interesting to see Crane’s evaluation of the other characters, yet perplexing as to why it wasn’t more relevant.  Rather epic Bane/Croc battle, but implemented in a somewhat lackluster comic.  Definitely better than the last issue, but far from perfect.

Spoiler

  • Did I miss something?  Where did these hostages come from?  I also thought they were wearing penguin masks at first, till later when Crane threatened to kill the crows, then I figured it out.  Glad he threw that in because up till then I was confused.
  • Did you really need to use chloroform on JD?  Batman comments on how chloroform is cheap.  I’d argue that a silent take down from behind in which he puts her in a headlock and she passes out from lack of oxygen would have been even cheaper.
  • Gordon is getting out of jail!
  • When Selina is giving a roll call of all the villains that Batman took out, she names every single one except for Joker’s Daughter.  Hahah.  Even Selina doesn’t think JD is important enough to mention.
  • Selina’s comment about Batman taking the Arkham escapees away to some deep dark hole, made me think that Batman might be taking them back to the cave to join Hush.  Is that just me, or did anybody else get that feeling from her comment?  I know a lot of people thought it was an odd choice to imprison Hush in the cave.  Curious to see what kind of reaching we get from the fan base after half a dozen guys get caged up in the cave.
  • Next time in Batman Eternal: What the Riddler knows!

Interesting Facts:

  • Le roi est mort.  Vive le roi.  This is French for: The king is dead.  Long live the king.
  • Bane and Killer Croc have had a grudge match going on since Batman #489 (1993) when Bane broke Croc’s arms.  Ever since, they have had it out for each other in a big way.  After a 21 year long feud between the two characters, it is nice to see
    Spoiler
    Croc coming out as the victor for a change.  Personally, it was getting a little old to see their confrontations always come out the same way, with Bane on top.  While I was immensely happy to see Croc win, I didn’t feel like the comic was as up to par as it should have been when including, what I felt was, a very important moment. 
  • I didn’t want to copy and paste my interesting facts from a previous review here for anybody who has already read it, but for those of you who are interested, my review for Batman Eternal #18 had plenty of interesting facts about Killer Croc.

Recommended if…

  • You love Killer Croc.
  • You want to see Batman taking out people left and right like it’s nothing.

Overall:

Generally speaking, this wasn’t Eternal’s best issue.  Which is actually a real shame.  There were some individual moments in the story that were really quite good, but as a whole the story was lacking a certain level of subtextual cohesiveness that would have made it truly shine.  In the end however, the element that earned this issue the biggest amount of demerits was the art.  While acceptable enough, it always surprises me when the big 2 have less than A grade art in their books.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10