Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Batman: Eternal #52 Review

Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Robson Rocha, Guillermo Ortego, David LaFuente, Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes, Allen                              Passalaqua,  Gabe Eltaeb, John Kalisz and John Rauch
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 1, 2015

Eternal Indeed

I usually poke fun at generic review phrases, but Batman: Eternal has been a roller coaster ride.  I can hear the collective sigh all the way up here in the Weird Science HQ, but let me explain.  Like a roller coaster, this book has had it's ups and downs and it's twists and turns.  I have gone from loving it to liking it to hating it to loving it and hating it again and again.  Part of the reason has been the revolving door of creative teams, but it also goes deeper than that.  The overall story has been hit or miss and at times it felt like it lost direction.  Luckily, the last bunch of issues have been some of the best and the book has regained it's momentum heading into this finale.  Does this issue wrap everything up and make the entire run worth the year long effort?  Let's find out...

I mentioned in my review for last week's issue that I was all set for Cluemaster to be the Big Bad of this entire series.  In one issue, James Tynion changed my mind and had me rooting for the C-list villain done good...or bad.  Alas, it wasn't meant to be.  However, this issue opens with a flashback of how the whole thing started and it not only involves more Cluemaster, but ties into one of the biggest moments in the New 52.

It seems that Arthur Brown (yes, I know his name too), came up with his plan against Batman around the same time that Lincoln March put his plan against the Court of the Owls into full effect.  Fans will remember the scene where the Court members are slumped over dead at their dining table.  It was awesome then and is equally awesome now.  You know what else is awesome...Cluemaster. That guy followed the clues, discovered the Court of the Owls and went to their lair spitting out piss and vinegar.  Ballsy move for a C-lister and Lincoln March takes notice.  I can't tell you how much I loved this scene.  Seeing that Cluemaster was indeed the initial brains behind it all made me happy and only made me wish he didn't go too far last issue.

We then jump back into the present with Lincoln March telling Bruce his big plan.  Actually, it's rather simple, kill Batman anonymously and leave him for Gotham to find.  Why?  To prove that Batman is just a man...a dead man.  That's when the issue kicks into overdrive.

James Gordon has been working overtime since getting out of Black Gate and sets up a coordinated effort to prove that Batman is everywhere.  Gotham lights up with Bat symbols on every video screen and the night sky is filled with Bat Signals.  Gordon then gives the city a "We are all Batman" pep talk and shit gets real.  This scene solidified that Gordon is the true hero of Eternal in my opinion.

In response, an awesome cast of characters responds to the call and some are very surprising.  My favorite bit was Batgirl going to save Jason Todd and being saved by a character I never, ever thought we'd see again.  It helps out that it's one of my favorites of the New 52, but the scene might be one of the best of this entire series.  I was so pumped, I didn't even mind seeing Katana.  Katana!

So did Lincoln March get his?  Well, kind of.  Stephanie Brown gets him with an awesome right cross, but in the end, he escapes.  That may be a bit of a lie, because he ends up in the lap of the Court of the Owls and they are none too pleased.  He is locked away like all the bad Talons to possibly be used years down the line.  I want to cry a bit of bullshit here.  After all this, I wanted to see Lincoln March get a little more of a punishment.  Actually, I wanted him to die.  Instead, the writers lock him away in case they want to use him in the future.  Boo!

I was also not pleased when it came to Jason Bard.  Sure, he resigned as Commissioner and Vicki Vale was writing an expose on everything he did, but how is this guy even walking the streets?  He should be in Black Gate right now having awful things done to him.  Cluemaster may have started the fire, but Bard constantly was pouring gasoline on it.  Instead, he goes off to have a drink with Vicki and help her with her story.  Boo! Boo!!

I did like how the book ended.  It was a bunch of little scenes that set in motion a couple of the ongoing DC books. We see Selina getting deeper into the Gotham crime scene, Jim Corrigan discussing the "Midnight Shift", even Barbara Gordon questioning her situation.  We also see a spark between Stephanie Brown and Tim Drake and an odd little romance starting between Jason Todd and Barbara.  Actually, it never really starts as Jason heads off to meet Roy Harper instead.  Weird choice, Jason, but it does tie into their teamup book in June.

As Batman and Jim Gordon prepare to meet the never ending battle with Gotham and it's villains (this time it's Scarecrow up to his usual), I could only think one thing...what about Hush?  He was such a huge part of this story and leaving him out of this issue felt off.  One panel is all I needed, but nothing.  Boo!  Boo!!  Boo!!!

After all is said and done, I liked this issue.  Liked.  I wanted to love it, but I didn't.  The Lincoln March and Jason Bard parts were wrapped up too open-ended when I wanted extreme justice.  We didn't get any Hush, but instead an odd love connection between Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon. James Gordon proved to be the hero of this series, but I wish we saw more of the regular citizens of Gotham step up to the plate and save the day.  However, I did love the heroes that did.  In the end, I am glad I read this entire series, I just am left with the feeling that it could have been better.

There were a whole lot of artists on this book.  While it showed with some odd transitions, it didn't bother me at all.  I looked at it as a greatest hits or a dream team of the series and just went with it.  It helped that most of the book looked pretty damn good.

Bits and Pieces:

This final issue of Batman: Eternal was good, just not as satisfying as I hoped.  Most of the loose ends were tied up, but how they were tied were frustrating.  Still, the ending tied into some of my favorite books and I got to see the return of some old friends.  After reading this finale, I am not upset that I stuck with the entire run of Eternal, just not as glad as I hoped.


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