This is going nowhere fast! I thought the last issue was unnecessary, but this one is borderline ad nauseam.
So, what happens in this issue? Batman punches out Mister Bygone, Batwing chases the spirits out of his apartment, Jim Corrigan elaborates on the book used to bring Deacon Blackfire back from the dead, Harper and Stephanie chat, and Batman supposedly figures out who the “Party Planner” is.
Don’t get too excited about that last part either. I have a sneaking suspicion that a false trail was set up to frame him so that the real “Party Planner” can continue to act unimpeded. I don’t have any real evidence to support this claim, it is merely a gut feeling. When the cliffhanger revealed his identity, I didn’t have that moment of shock or excitement one would expect to have after discovering the mystery behind Eternal’s big bad. I just thought, “Well, I guess that will get debunked next issue.” No disrespect to him, he is awesome, it just seems too easy. I just feel like the creative team would want to hold off longer on the reveal and make it even more grand.
Personally, I felt the issue where the Spectre owned Deacon Blackfire and all his minions was an awesome and fulfilling climax to that particular plot thread. Seeing all this coming back up just feels like the opposite to me. Especially considering how easily it all gets wrapped up. Batwing is faced with the spirits that have been plaguing his apartment for the last couple of issues and Mister Bygone shows up at the airport to challenge Batman. If you’re asking who Mister Bygone is, don’t feel bad about it. We haven’t seen the character for 20 or 30 issues, and even when he was introduced all that time ago, he was never really fully explored in order to give you a lasting impression of the character. So, what happens? Batwing just punches all the spirits with the Nth metal, banishing them, and Batman takes one swing at Mister Bygone and knocks him cold. Yeah, it’s that easy! I’m perplexed why one would even bother to introduce these conflicts when they are so effortless to thwart.
Another moment that felt anti-climatic was the confrontation between Harper and Steph. The last time we saw them, they were beating the crap out of each other and Steph was about to get tazzered. It’s a little disappointing to be left with a cliffhanger like that and then come back to the two of them just sitting down chatting. What gives? The one interesting element that came out of their scene was a discussion about Batman and his villains. It’s actually a conversation I have seen many times over the years; but if you are new to Batman, I suppose you would need to be introduced to that concept at some point or another. Essentially the argument is: Does Batman do more harm than good? Does he, in fact, create the super villains he fights? Obviously, the other side of the argument is: Batman is a lightning rod of sorts. Without him, all these villains would still exist, maybe not as the characters we know them to be, but exist nonetheless. His presence gives them a target to direct their nefarious acts toward and minimizes the public casualties that would no doubt triple without Batman’s interventions.
So, what is all this stuff about a book and Corrigan? It is implied that the “Party Planner” gave Professor Milo the book in order to summon Blackfire so that there would be one more problem for Batman to contend with. All that crazy stuff that was happening at Arkham was merely part of the ritual necessary to call his spirit. In the bigger scheme of things, it seems like a lot of trouble to go through for nothing. After all, Blackfire’s involvement in Eternal seems to have caused the least amount of struggle for Batman to contend with over any of the other villains involved. I mean, if the whole point in summoning Blackfire was to free the Arkham inmates, then that is a pretty big Rube Goldberg machine right there. Maybe Bane shooting a stinger missile at Arkham in Knightfall wasn’t as flashy as summoning a spirit, but it still go the job done, and a lot easier.
Javi Fernandez handles art this issue, and while his art gets the job done, there isn’t anything about it that strikes me as truly unique. For the most part he concentrates on the foreground elements with minimal background detailing. Only a handful of panels spend anytime detailing the environments. The one selected below is one of the few, and as such, this image stood out from the rest of the book as noteworthy. It almost seems like the cemetery is an unfinished sketch. The fact that it does appear as being unfinished might stand out as a negative to some, but I for one found it intriguing.
- You are collecting all the issues of Batman Eternal.
- Everything I just commented on sounds fascinating to you.
While there was a lot of stuff in this issue that I found unnecessarily tedious and completely skippable, I will at least recognize the fact that the dialogue was perfectly sufficient and the characters were at least displaying the appropriate dispositions. Unfortunately, that is the most enthusiasm I can muster for this issue. When everything is said and done, ultimately, this issue was spent tying up loose ends that didn’t need tying. Hopefully more effort will be put toward #46 than what was displayed here.
SCORE: 3.5 / 10