So, a couple of weeks ago in my weekly blog, I made a joke that reviewing this book has become my weekly column on how weekly comics should/shouldn’t be done. But as I’m sitting here staring at cherry picked pages of this book that I’ve both applauded and lambasted over the past few months, I find that this is totally true. When you’re doing a weekly book that changes hands as much as this one does, hiccups are just going to be par for the course. Having said that, Batman Eternal manages to remain a mostly strong comic even when the concepts are stronger than the execution. If it weren’t for the compelling story Scott Snyder has laid out for other creators to script and illustrate, this series would have a much tougher time than it’s had.
This week, as he’s cooling his heels in Blackgate prison, Jim Gordon has an unexpected meeting with his son, James Gordon Jr. The result is an absolutely delicious moment of a villain reading his own father like a set of flash cards. There is something to be said about the symbolism here. One mainstay of Batman’s list of bad guys has always been that they often pose the question of whether or not Batman exists because of them or vice versa. There’s also the long standing quandry of how far into the darkness Batman really reaches. In recent times, we don’t get to see him in this predicament as as often because (let’s face it), it’s easier to sell younger audiences a character that’s unilaterally good no matter even with violent methods. So, it’s awesome to see Gordon handed a similar moral dilemma as the city’s second foremost champion of the law (in keeping with Scott Snyder’s long overdue conspiracy to make him into a nigh-superhero). Granted, little Jimmy is insane and probably wrong about Dad, but these are the bad guy moments that make Batman’s universe what it is.
Elsewhere, Jason Bard puts a plan into motion to undermine Commissioner Forbes’ faustian “laissez faire” deal with Carmine Falcone once and for all. The rookie cop is really beginning to earn his keep in the narrative, serving as a Gordon surrogate while still being a completely different character. Stephanie Brown aka She Who Will Become The Spoiler is definitely coming along, getting a worthy origin story laid out for her in the New 52. As the stakes are raised, her character is tested that much more, allowing us to be convinced to like her a little more with every issue. There’s a page or two dedicated to Tim Drake and Harper Row….who should just go steady and get it over with. And to add icing to this cake, Mikel Janin’s pencils are doing the Lord’s Work once again this week. The best visuals in this installment are easily the exchange between the Gordons. It’s awesome to see the similarities and differences play out via body language as well as dialog. Sr. is a confident straight talker, always confident but never really trusting what he sees. Jr. is clearly a duplicitous snake in the grass, arrogant and perpetually calculating. My only complaint is that the male characters’ hairstyles sometimes look a little too rigid even during action beats. Still, for the most part, it’s an incredible looking book.
Bottom Line: A moody, tense, fantastic looking issue that continues to do a great job pushing the narrative into some promising territory. This issue makes a great case for why you should pick up this book. 9 out of 10.