It’s a miracle!  We have an issue of Batman Eternal with Gordon in it!  We haven’t seen hide nor hair of Gordon nor Bard since issue #38, and we have not seen any kind of real progression in the story since then either.  Here’s hoping that getting Gordon back into the fold gets our story back on track!

While it is nice to see this side of the story resurfacing after such a long hiatus, there is little about Bard’s solution to the problem that couldn’t have been handled forever ago.  I was assuming that with this much time spent away from Gordon, some elaborate scheme was being concocted in order to free him… I was wrong!

Other than the Gordon/Bard aspect of our story, the rest of the book is primarily relegated to the Batfamily and their attempts to take down the Arkham escapees.  Unfortunately, this part of the book is lacking on substance. It is merely a series of intercutting action scenes that ultimately amount to eye candy and nothing more.  As I had said in my last review, I was hoping that at least Batgirl’s ordeal would prove to be an interesting introspective look at the character, but alas, it’s all just flash.

The real kicker comes when Hush uses the Batcomputer to mess with the Heroes while they are engaged in their encounters.  I can accept Hush using audio feedback on their communication receivers to mess with them, or that the Batcomputer would have remote control over the Batwing suit since it is essentially a Batman toy, but the idea that all of their gear is remotely accessible through the Batcomputer is stretching my willing suspension of disbelief a little too far.  When considering the others, Red Robin has his own computer system, Harper made her stuff at home, and Red Hood is essentially an outsider to the group.  On top of that, Red hood doesn’t seem the type to allow remote access to his stuff, and even if he did, nothing he carries is hightech enough to even be eligible for remote function; he uses the kind of completely standard equipment that can be picked up at any black market. These scenes also call into question the over-dependability these characters have developed with their toys.  Saying that these characters are nothing but their toys is an argument that I have always disagreed with and it annoys me that a comic would depict the very thing I try to argue against.  On occasion, I’ve heard people say: “if I were rich, I could be Batman.”,  as if all it took was money.  Batman spent a decade training his mind and body to the peak of human perfection; so no! it’s more than money.  Their toys are merely accentuating their skill sets, they aren’t the end all be all of their abilities (well, maybe Harper and Luke’s).  Batman, Batgirl, Red Robin, and Red Hood should all be perfectly capable of handling themselves, to some extent, without the benefit of toys.  Showing anything to the contrary is downplaying the characters vast repertoire of skills and the competence of their abilities.

Fernando Blanco handles art duties for this issue and he did a fairly competent job of it too.  But it seems to me that the colorist, Marcelo Maiolo, is actually the one responsible for the elements of the art that really stood out to me.  The way in which he used colors to punctuate key emotions during scenes grabbed my attention.  He also used a general color wash to identify certain environments within the book.  It added a subconscious identifier that helped guide you through the story.  He also added an interesting visual element to a majority of the panels.  In the proceeding images you can see how the backgrounds all end up losing focus.  There are a multitude of conditions that can be the cause of this effects: lighting, haze, distance, fog, or merely to draw focus to the foreground action.  In any case, it is an effect that I felt added a lot of atmosphere and depth to the art.

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Here is a bonus panel I feel like throwing in just because it looks so cool.

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In regards to the cover, it took me awhile to notice that the gray space around Penguin was mimicking the shape of his hat because I was too busy looking at the burning rolls of toilet paper.

Now it is time for a moment of conjecture.  I read in an interview that there would be a clue to the “Party Planner’s” identity in this issue.  What if Signalman is the “Party Planner”?  Right off the bat, I’ll refute this hypothesis because we saw a scene early on in Eternal where the “Party Planner” was talking to a group of villains from the shadows, Signalman included.  But I just want to throw it out there for the fun of it nonetheless.  On the very first page of Batman Eternal #1, we see Batman tied to the Batsignal.  Essentially, Batman being killed on the Batsignal is close to being killed in it, which is what Signalman tried to do back in the 70s (would be a nice homage).  Back in Eternal #40 I was also surprised at how much I was enjoying Signalman, going so far as to state that I wouldn’t mind him getting a solo outing against the Dark Knight in a future issue of Tec or Batman.  Even Mister Freeze comments on the fact that Signalman seems highly more intelligent than he is letting on.  He also fits with the clue Spoiler gave to Vicki. While Signalman might not necessarily be the “Party Planner”, the idea that springs forth from the Vicki/Spoiler conversation is that the big bad of Eternal isn’t one of Gotham’s biggest villains.  It is someone who has been overlooked, and not just from an in-world explanation, but I think someone who the fan base would also overlook.  It would be kind of awesome to have a C-list villain show up out of nowhere as the big bad.  Saying, you’ve always underestimated me.  Look at me now! Did you guys pick up on any other clues?

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  • Other than the fact that it is the end of the series and it is time to throw as much peril at our characters as possible, what exactly has prompted the “Party Planner” into taking out Gordon at this time?  What is the cause and effect?  The events would indicate that Gordon is somehow key to Gotham’s Salvation and that his release will undermine the “Party Planner’s” scheme.  But why did he wait till now to eliminate Gordon?
  • If Batman’s vitals are connected to the Batcomputer, Hush surly knows Batman is still alive.  Why isn’t Hush messing with Batman too?  Then again, maybe Batman realized what was going on and went off grid.

Recommended if…

  • You want to hop on for the finale of Batman Eternal.
  • You’ve been waiting for Gordon to show up again.

Overall:

Personally, I feel like only half the content of this book is worth the read.  While the worthwhile sections are definitely good, the bad elements are dragging the book down.  At least the less than stellar sections are still drawn well.  While the story is finally picking up a little with the return of Gordon, it is nowhere near as thrilling as it should be this late in the game.  We only have 4 issues left, and at this point, I’m not sure if I should just be happy to get any kind of acceptable ending or if I should still hold onto the hope of getting something grandiose.  It does have a pretty imposing cliffhanger though!

SCORE: 6.5 / 10