After reading this issue, you’ll be thankful that the powers that be decided to make this a weekly instead of a monthly. Oh, who am I kidding! Even 7 days seems too long to wait after reading this.
Expectations can play a huge role in the overall enjoyment one gets out of a story, and I am happy to say that my expectations were completely met. This issue ended up being everything that I was hoping for (and needing it to be). While I am very happy to see that everything played out exactly as I wanted it to, this also ended up eliminating any surprise on my part. That isn’t really a complaint so much as an observation. While the turn of events weren’t incredibly unanticipated, they were still highly satisfying.
The best part of this issue is the dialogue, and trust me, there is a lot of it. I’d say more than half of the book is dedicated to Cluemaster monologuing. While on the surface that might seem like a fairly hefty amount of exposition to comb through, it ends up being thoroughly engaging and thought provoking. The premise of Cluemaster’s entire scheme is actually rather brilliant in its overall simplicity. Along with sharing points relevant to his plan, he also diverges into less pertinent anecdotes. One being an evening that he and a bunch of his counterparts spent together chatting about Batman. It was a very humanizing moment to consider a bunch of villains just chilling together, having a party, and not meeting in order to discuss their plans to destroy all of Gotham.
Cluemaster turns around the concept brought about in Batman Begins; the belief that a man can be destroyed/killed/corrupted, but a symbol/ideal can be eternal. Cluemaster is convinced that there is no myth or legacy that can persevere past the man behind the mask being publicly humiliated and defeated; no one would aspire to follow in the footsteps of someone who failed. We idolize and follow winners. Sure, it can be motivating to see someone who has failed beat adversity and win in the end, but killing Batman wouldn’t leave that option open.
The remainder of the book is spent with Selina, Gordon, Bard, Spoiler and Harper. The scene with Selina seemed kind of out of place to me; not that it wasn’t relevant to some extent, but hardly something that I felt should have been devoted pages to in this book. I’m not really sure if it will even lead to anything in the last issue either. Seems to me that they have enough stuff that they need to wrap up next issue without adding something else to the plate. I felt the same about the brief scene with Gordon and Bard: with everything that we have to do next issue, it’s not like we can spend too much time watching Gotham’s finest clean up the mean streets. Or perhaps it was just to let us know what they would be doing and that it will take place off page. Surprisingly, the encounter between Harper and Spoiler was my favorite of the three secondary scenes from this week. While not everyone out there is the biggest Harper fan, I felt that the juxtaposition of the two characters in this scene really made Harper seem heroic. I’m also very curious to see if this is our last look at Spoiler in Eternal. Will our final impression of her be that of cowardice, or will she return in the last issue to redeem herself? As it stands, it could easily go in either direction.
Alvaro Martinez returns to handle art duties for this issue, and I think it is safe to say he allocated more time to this book than 50. Not that I have anything negative to say about his work from last time, in fact I said it was beautiful, I’m just seeing an added level of attention spent on panels this time around. Seeing as how this is the first half of the climax, I’m not surprised that he put some extra care into making sure it stood out. Seeing as how a fair amount of the book was just people talking, it’s fairly important to at least give readers something pretty to look at while reading all that text.
- I guessed all the way back in June of last year that Lincoln March/Thomas Wayne Jr. was going to be the big bad, and while it was nice to see that my guess panned out, it makes me wonder why Batman was having such a hard time sleuthing it out too. I realize that as a reader we sometimes are privileged to information that our heroes don’t have, but even without this additional insight, I think Batman should have at least been exploring him as a person of interest. Not investigating March was definitely a way to keep the character out of the readers minds so that his appearance was all the more shocking, but for those of us who had considered him as a suspect on our own, it stands out as a glaring hole in Batman’s investigation.
- The scene where Cluemaster unmasks Batman kind of telegraphs the fact that Cluemaster isn’t the big bad. Maybe it is just the way I chose to read it, but he seemed surprised to find Bruce under the mask. It was an early indication to me that he was going to be revealed as nothing more than a pawn for a real big bad yet to be revealed.
- I really liked the symmetry that Cluemaster pointed out in regards to Bruce’s parents getting killed by some no one, and now he would be too.
- Bruce called him a second rate Riddler. BAT-BURN!
- Is Selina really capable of yanking a 180 lbs man with enough force that he flies horizontally through the air from across the room. I know it’s a comic book, but I’m not even sure this applies to comic book physics.
- Last time we saw Batman fight March he was at peak condition, and even then he almost lost. With Bruce so beat up, how is he going to win? 7 days…7 DAYS!!!!! Aaahhh!!!!
- It seems that every decade has a story like this, where Batman faces off against large numbers of his rouges gallery. The 80s had Batman #400 which involved Ra’s Al Ghul freeing all the inmates from Arkham and Gotham State Penitentiary to fight Batman, the 90s had Knightfall where Bane freed all the inmates from Arkham, the 2000s had Riddler and Hush who got a bunch of people to team up against Batman, and finally 2014 which brings us to Eternal.
- It’s time to honor the old foundations that were used to create the Lincoln March/Thomas Wayne Jr. of today. I’m sure that some of you were under the impression that Thomas Wayne Jr. was a completely new character fabricated by Scott Snyder for The Court of Owls storyline from 2012. While most of what we were given was indeed a new character, there were some small elements that payed homage to the Thomas Wayne Jr. from 1964. That’s right, certain details from a 48 year old comic made it into The Court of Owls. In World’s Finest #223, Bruce discovers that he has an older brother named Thomas Wayne Jr. Other than the name being the same, this story also shows a Thomas who gets involved in a car accident which damages his mind, who gets sent to Willowood Asylum, and ends up becoming a killer. These elements from the 60s story all found their way into the present day version. To be perfectly honest, I was rather surprised that more people weren’t talking about this back when The Court of Owls/Thomas Wayne Jr. premiered. I have to admit, part of me was really hoping Lincoln March would end up being the bad guy just so I could share this factoid with you.
- You want to see what all this has been leading to. (psst…something awesome)
- You want answers! You get some, and one is a doozy!
- You like well crafted dialogue.
- You like when a story gives you something to think about.
Engaging dialogue, beautiful art, and cogent characters. The trifecta of a great comic. It’s everything I wanted it to be and more.
SCORE: 9 / 10