Batman Eternal is still going strong if you take it as it comes from week to week. Scott Snyder laying out the basic plot and allowing different writers to be instruments of his vision is proving to be a smart move where other weekly titles have failed in the past. Even as it’s worst, this book is STILL less of a hit/miss than 52 was years ago.
This week, Ray Fawkes brings one simple fact into glaring focus: Gotham might just be the worst fictional place on Earth. Ever. I mean, the villainy in this city knows NO CHILL whatsoever. No more than a couple of weeks after Batman diffuses the Roman/Penguin gang war and stopping Professor Pyg, Batwing and Jim Corrigan in the most compromising of situations at the mercy of Deacon Blackfire (who I am convinced is the comic book version of that Rev. Fred Phelps). We get some insight in to the good padre’s backstory and why he has something of a mad-on for all things Bat that serves as a pretty good way to highlight Batman’s awesomeness via flashback since we haven’t seen much of him lately.
Meanwhile, Red Robin and Harper Row continue to investigate some other bizarre happenings and bicker like my parents. There’s a small glimpse of Alfred and his estranged daughter Julia, but that’s getting insanely repetitive. Every single week they show up, it’s a page of the two of them in a different wing of the house and Julia basically saying “Dad, you ain’t shit.” If she’s gonna stumble onto Bruce Wayne being Batman, it needs to go ahead and happen. Fawkes does “absolutely creepy” well. VERY well. The tone of the Deacon Blackfire stuff builds all the proper atmosphere and gravitas. You can hold this book to your ear and almost actually hear ghostly groaning. Dustin Nguyen clearly loves drawing spooky shit. His attention to all the right details makes every panel a treat to read. This particular arc would make a beautiful motion comic. You heard it here, DC, stop leaving this money on the table.
Bottom Line: A mainly good issue that makes it clear the creative team needs to cut some of the sideplot fat. 8 out of 10.