So, I’ve mentioned before that Batman Eternal has become a bit of an obsession for me. The strange thing is that it’s not just because of the things it does right. A weekly comic that’s actually focused on shipping on time can be open to any number of things that can go wrong, so it’s always interesting to see the minor snafus that can occur when creative talent is basically a game of musical chairs. Sometimes, it’s noticeable without causing any real consequence. Other times, it makes all the difference.
This issue leaves us spending an equal amount of time involved in two different plots. The first brings Batman back into the forefront as he keeps a close eye on Gotham’s new top cop, Jason Bard. The two are pulled into the sewers in pursuit of a foe abducting innocents. The tense relationship between the two (mostly on Batman’s end) make for an entertaining team up. With such a deep network of allies and proteges in the city, it’s easy to forget that some of the best Bat-reads come when the Dark Knight teams up with people he doesn’t completely trust. Meanwhile, we get to catch up with Batgirl, Red Hood and Batwoman still tracking down parts of the machine behind Jim Gordon’s frame job. This seems like there would be more of a personality clash, but even for all of their differences, Ray Fawkes seems to allow them to come across as a well oiled machine of a team with issues. Professionals, I guess you could call them. We get a brief glimpse into the possible tension of Carmine Falcone being locked away in Blackgate alongside Gordon which looks to be a great opening for a quality “shit hits the fan” moment.
Andy Clarke’s artwork is most decent, but it’s a tall order to follow Dustin Nguyen. The problem is that the overall tone created by his color palette doesn’t really gel with an issue partially about Batman skulking around in the sewers. And one panel of Alfred makes him look pale enough to be a ghost in a Japanese horror film. And again…..WHY THE FUCK DOES RED HOOD’S MASK HAVE A MOUTH??? Seriously, this is what I was talking about when I said minor details sometimes make ALL the difference (especially when we’ve seen and issue with the mouth and another issue without it in the same series). Jason Todd went from looking like a badass to looking like one of those Power Rangers villains with the mouths that never move even when they’re talking. This shouldn’t be that much of an issue but it’s REALLY distracting. Hopefully, this gets cleared up in the next couple of issues.
Bottom Line: This week sees two strong plotlines getting weighed down by a sharp decline in art quality. Seriously, guys…..fix the Red Hood shit. 7.5 out of 10.