Batman Eternal has definitely kicked into high gear now that we’ve peeled away numerous layers of plot and gotten down to the meat and potatoes of the forces seeking to destroy Gotham and it’s defenders once and for all. The return of Hush, one of Batman’s greatest foes has also made for a very good look with this book. Now, with the story shifting gears for the next phase of Scott Snyder’s master plan, can Eternal maintain the momentum?
With James Tynion IV still on script duty, the focus is on the newly reunited Bat-family bringing one another up to speed on the various angles Gotham’s current turmoil has descended from. Tynion’s also nice enough to give us a quick tutorial on the origin of Hush mainly for new readers. For a team that’s so tight-knit and the years of legacy they carry with them, it’s rare we get such a familial, character driven vibe from a Batman comic now in The Era of The Goddamned Batman. Tynion has the Bat-Fam’s individual voices down pretty well which is good for some light laughter in a series with an intensely serious plot most of the time. Meanwhile, Stephanie “The Spoiler” Brown pays a visit to her seemingly defeated father, The Cluemaster, only to find that her 99 problems have only just begun. This ends up being a fantastic setup for the further adventures of the Spoiler which I expect will be awesome. In fact, with DC’s penchant for inundating readers with Gotham related titles, I wouldn’t be surprised if we say a solo title for New 52 Gotham’s rookie vigilante sooner than later. There’s really no reason this shouldn’t be hailed as the best book of the week. Oh, wait, I can think of one reason: The art. I realize now that R.M. Guera is DC’s bizarro answer to Greg Land.
I want very desperately to call the pencils for last week and this week “laughable” but laughter implies that there is entertainment value in the doggedly awful visuals Guera drops in our laps the way your puppy fishes roadkill out of the street and leaves it on your patio expecting a Scooby Snack for a job well done. And it’s twice as insulting because you want it to at least be in the same neighborhood as Tynion’s writing. The only two positives to the art are a). getting rid of the mouth on Red Hood’s mask and b). the brief Hush flashback penciled beautifully by Juan Ferreyra. Other than that, this book would have done better if DC could have gotten Kevin Conroy or, at least, Bruce Greenwood to just read the damned thing to us.
Bottom Line: As great a job as James Tynion IV has done with the script and as awesome as the story’s direction is, the art this week is so questionable, you’re better off getting a copy in braile. 5 out of 10.