It was a rocky road getting there at times, but Batman Eternal managed to finish off its first story arc smoothly in a brilliant issue last week. It felt somewhat chaotic but it brings the bigger picture into focus. A weekly book with an overarching plot has to have a lot of things in play and be prepared to bring a new story into focus when another is completed. Hopefully, the creative team has learned from their mistakes and can improve on a mainly awesome book going forward.
This week seems to be a team-up themed book. Ray Fawkes continues a plotline put into play weeks ago with Batwing and Jim Corrigan investigating some creepy happenings over at Arkham Asylum. When the seeds were planted so many issues ago, I remember this being a delightful team up to read and that remains true once again in this go-round. Watching the ever analytical, technology reliant Batwing bumping heads with Corrigan, whose knowledge of the occult transcends conventional notions of up and down isn’t exactly new territory as far as team dynamics go, but still entertaining when it’s done right. Meanwhile, while running down a lead with Jason Todd, Batgirl runs into Batwoman, Batman has another ideology/staring contest with Jason Bard and Red Robin has another “OhMyGodWouldYouTwoJustGetMarriedAndGetItOverWith?” moment with his unwelcome ally, Harper Row.
There’s a LOT of material that gets covered in each issue and there’s no disguising how crowded it feels this time around. I mean, seriously…there are character in this book than there are men in the Night’s Watch, but Fawkes still handles the large cast as well as can be expected. Dustin Nguyen’s pencils are beautiful as usual. He’s one of those artists whose style has always been a perfect fit for Batman book and this remains the case. Each setting has a clear cut difference in its atmosphere and tone. Arkham feels appropriately eerie and decayed while you feel the cold, mechanical solitude in Red Robin’s jet (because Tim would always rather be working alone).
Bottom Line: The cast is beginning to feel like it’s bursting at the seams, but Ray Fawkes doesn’t let it get away from him. This plus Dustin Nguyen’s art makes this another issue in the “win” column. 8 out of 10