Batman Eternal has been killing it the past few weeks in particular. The thing about a weekly book is that, not unlike a weekly television show (yes, I know I’ve made this comparison before, but it’s a necessary one), it’s tempting and sort of necessary for writers to want to experiment with subplots and test their audience to see what works. Eternal has done quite a bit of that within it’s three month lifespan. Some of it has worked, some of it hasn’t. Now, with issue 14, we get back on track and see one of the main plots tied off in beautifully executed fashion.
The gang war between Carmine Falcone and the Penguin for control of Gotham’s underworld, already at a fever pitch, reaches a satisfying conclusion. This was a delightful read, if for no other reason, because of a great scene in which a desperate takes the fight straight to the Roman in a truly villainous fashion. People often forget that Oswald Cobblepot is a deadly enemy in his own right despite not knowing dozens of martial arts disciplines like many of Batman’s foes tend to master. With that in mind, it was nice to see a truly terrifying moment from him again. Another highlight is a new layer to the relationship between Batman and Jason Bard, who is turning out to be an excellent Jim Gordon surrogate while the fate of Gotham’s top cop is still being decided. James Tynion pulls off a decently paced script this week. There’s a lot of exposition in this issue, but considering that Batman stories often end on a note of dueling ideologies, it never actually comes across as unnecessary or verbose. Meanwhile, Jason Fabok’s artwork works well with Tynion’s script, giving the characters a kinetic feel even when there are pages where people are just talking and staring each other down. Fabok gets the MVP this week just on the strength of recreating an iconic Penguin scene from Batman Returns.
Bottom Line: A talky yet mainly awesome way of finishing up Eternal’s first major arc and setting up potentially fun things to come. 8.5 out of 10