The last three issues of Eternal have been mediocre at best, and while this one is better, the improvement is so inconsequential, it does not even register.  In the past, Eternal has had a lot of highs and lows, but things have tended to jump to the extremes far more quickly than this slow crawl out of the hole I have been experiencing for the last month.  Fortunately, I think I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I was expecting the best part of this issue to be a continuation of the banter between Batman and the Riddler.  Well, you won’t find any more brainy back and forths this go around.  In fact, the Riddler/Batman sections of the book are probably the least wordy and worthy in this issue.  The fact that 1/3 of the book is devoted to them, with nothing really happening, is a real let down, and quite frankly a waste of pages if you ask me.  The one thing from this section that I would like to expound on  is Riddler’s comment about Batman becoming powerless: everyone keeps saying that Batman is at the end of his rope, is losing his mind, is exhausted…  Instead of telling us this stuff over and over, I wish they would show it.  So far, other than him overlooking the obvious identity of the “Party Planner”, Batman seems just fine.  He is doing his thing and taking names!  The only issue where he seemed even remotely haggard to me was the one where he and Julia were talking in the Batcave workshop and he was all scruffy from not having shaved or bathed in days.  Knightfall had a real sense of Batman being worn down, here, they keep saying it, but I’m not seeing it.

While Vicki has a brief check-in to tie up her cliffhanger from last issue, the majority of the rest of the book is dedicated to the other villains and Selina.  I really loved how ballsy Selina was depicted in these scenes!  Trapped in a room with a dozen maniacs with weapons, she is still holding her own and speaking her mind.  She makes a really good point too!  What exactly is to be gained from destruction?  The real rewards come from taking over and ruling, not turning the city into a smoldering pit.  The other character that unexpectedly stood out to me was Signalman.  Perhaps him hanging with these goofballs is making him look cooler than he truly is, but just from his brief interactions with Mister Freeze, I wouldn’t mind seeing a solo Signalman story after Eternal wraps up.

Davide Furno and Paolo Armitano handle art this round, and it’s definitely better than the illustrations we have been seeing from Eternal over the last month. I especially enjoyed the panels that are heavy in shadow and dripping with atmosphere.  Check out this beautiful image that relays both of those qualities:

shadows

If the whole comic looked like that, I’d give the art department two thumbs up, but then you have shots like this:

scarecrow

Hmmm…What are we looking at?  No, that isn’t a toaster covered in a black garbage bag, nor anything else hiding in a garbage bag for that matter…that is the back of Scarecrows head!  Is this really drawn by the same artist?  Thankfully, there are a lot more images pleasing to the eye, than images like Johnathan Crane’s noggin there.

One last note on art.  Did anyone else feel like they forgot the sound effect accompanying this image? Where is the scream?

vicki

Spoiler

  • Last review, I talked about my theories regarding the echo comment Riddler made.  In the last week, I reread the Court of Owls and wanted to remind you all of what Lincoln March’s final words were.  “When you feel that prickling on the back of your neck, know that I am coming for you, reaching for you from the other side of your reflection”.  An echo is a reflection of sound waves.  The fact that Riddler’s statement and March’s last word are both derivative of each other is worth considering.  Granted, how would Riddler know what March’s last word was, but still interesting to consider.
  • Clayface thinks he is an A-lister…how cute.
  • Jim Corrigan?!?!?!?  The last time I saw you, it looked like you had been pancaked by a 3 ton boulder.  I seriously thought your involvement in Eternal was finished…  genuinely surprised to see you again!
  • Remember several issues ago when Bard took over the Batmobile and then some override code was entered in order to allow Batman to escape?  How likely is it that when Batman faces off with all these villains, that he will activate a similarly hidden sub routine in order to disable all their new toys?
  • How did Selina know checking out peculiar bounty contracts would lead her somewhere?  When she is told the hit is on Cluemaster’s daughter, it makes more sense that she would connect Spoiler with potential information, but how did she know to look at bounties in the first place?  I don’t understand her train of thought, but at this point, whatever moves the plot forward is a win.

Recommended if…

  • You’re a fan of Selina Kyle.
  • You like the idea of watching Batman and Riddler on a nature hike together….

Overall:

The best thing about this issue is that it looks like it is almost time for something eventful to happen again!  The last month has been a real drag for me, here’s hoping that Batman Eternal #41 can break this rut.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10