You want to see Batman completely lose his composure and take down a bunch of criminals in seconds! Well then, you’ve come to the right place.  And we aren’t talking your run of the mill street thugs either, we are talking about super villains who would usually get entire story arcs devoted to them.

This issue definitely shows Batman taking it to a whole new level of extremes.  In my last review, I commented negatively about the logic of the cover, but it seems I should have just waited to see what was going to happen: that cover wasn’t so much a display of artistic license as it was a complete spoiler of events to come!  That’s right!  Batman actually crashes that plane into Bane!  That is the first image we are treated to upon opening this book, a smoldering pile of wreckage with Bane pinned beneath it.  I’m not going to reveal the specifics of the rest of the encounters, but Batman is straight up not messing around with these people anymore.  I’m not entirely surprised by this turn of events, as we had seen Batman easily take out this bunch in a previous issue of Eternal, but what did surprise me, was the no holds barred/go straight for the throat approach.  The gloves are off!  Some people might think this is all a little too easy, but I prefer to put a positive spin on it instead and say, Batman is just too formidable.

This issue also comes packed with a healthy dose of fan service and great character moments.  Even when a character only delivers a line or two, James Tynion IV makes those lines count.  Red Hood and Batgirl definitely stood out to me as two of the characters who had the fewest number of panels allocated to them, but provided the most impactful and memorable lines/moments from the book.  I also greatly enjoyed how the creative team seemed to finally be acting on the fans displeasure in regards to JD.  There are two humorous moments at JD’s expense and another humorous moment that makes light of the silly code names that Alfred and Julia have (Yay!).

My biggest criticism is the amount of material being crammed into the book at the last second.  This is resulting in a lack of important bridging moments and a cursory examination of certain scenes that could have been more played up.  Up until this chapter, everything has just been meandering along, and let’s be honest, not everything was really necessary either.  But now they are trying to fit all this stuff in at the last moment, when really they could have omitted some of the previous material and expanded on what is happening now in its place.

Another element that seemed slightly off to me was the time it took for the villain’s plan to come to fruition.  A long time ago, we saw how Ratcatcher, Prankster, and Signalman were all messing with the infrastructure of the citie’s utilities and services.  This issue shows things getting thrown into high gear, but I don’t get why they waited so long to implement this level of collapse.  It may be that this was actually intentional, to drag the process on in order to wear Batman down.  Hey, maybe that is what Eternal has been doing to us this whole time too, wearing us down so we feel just as tired and frustrated as Batman.  You never know, it could be true.

Alvaro Martinez handles art duties for this issue, and except for a couple of questionable panels here and there, he does a very solid job.  A couple weeks ago, in my review for Detective Comics #40,  I commented on the fact that hardly a page went by without seeing any blood.  Replace blood with smoke and fire and you’ve got this issue of Batman Eternal.  The entire city is one giant inferno; and Martinez does a wonderful job bringing it to life.  Special attention is payed to every ounce of debris, tongue of fire, and billow of smoke.  I know it is insanely destructive and I should be aghast, but I’m going to have to agree with Firefly, and simply say: “Beautiful”.

Spoiler

  • Yeah, I don’t think the “Party Planner” is Cluemaster.  I could be wrong here, but it seems like the creative team wants us to think he is, but is actually saving another reveal in the wings.  Not only that, but it also doesn’t entirely make sense:  Spoiler already mentioned that she thought Bruce Wayne was the bad guy yet Cluemaster doesn’t look like Bruce.  Let’s not forget that somewhere in the first 10 issues of Eternal we also saw Cluemaster sitting around a table having a meeting with his men and some guy in the shadows.  At the time, I was under the impression the shadowy figure was the big bad, although it may have just been Hush.  We will probably never know.  Anyway, I’m hoping that in the next issue, Cluemaster monologues for pages, so we can get a clear picture of every little detail that has lead us to this moment.  If they are going with Cluemaster, I expect to see the behind the scenes and know without a shadow of a doubt that it makes sense for him to be the “Party Planner”.  I don’t want any plot holes!
  • Umm , the last time we saw Penguin he was tied up in Gordon’s cell….now he is racing away from Blackgate on a speed boat with Croc?  What gives?  I was expecting Gordon to interrogate Penguin.  And while we are at it, why exactly would Selina want to free Penguin?
  • Did anyone else find it interesting that Harper wasn’t included on the cover?  All the other heroes are represented.  Is she getting dissed or was she omitted merely because she has yet to attain the same level of hero status as the rest of the group?
  • What Calabrese says makes it seem as though he thinks Penguin is the “Party Planner”.

Interesting Facts:

  • I’m not sure if this was intentional, but for me, the cover definitely called to mind the classics cover of Batman #9 from 1942.  Seeing Batman by the light of a spotlight has become a time honored tradition due to this cover from the 1940s.  Along with the original cover, check out these homages from Norm Breyfogle and Alex Ross. (Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least ten other classic “Batman in a spotlight” covers, anybody have any they would like to share?)

Awesome     awesome2

Recommended if…

  • You want to see Batman completely steam plow through everybody and everything in his path!
  • You like your stories served with a side of wit.

Overall:

Definitely one of the more enjoyable issues of Eternal I have read in the last 2 months, filled with great character moments and a level of intensity that has been missing from these pages for awhile now.  The last dozen or so issue, I have flipped through at a casual pace, but this one was a real page turner.  The only real drawback this issue had was a that too much was trying to be crammed in, and it left some things feeling slightly more disjointed than they could have otherwise been.

SCORE: 7.5 / 10