script: Kyle Higgins / artist: Alvara Martinez
The primary problem with the New 52 reboot (can we find out if there’s a statute of limitations on the number of years after the fact we have to keep calling it “new”) was that it seemed like DC was trying too hard to pump out Batman books. This is still a problem. If DC Comics were a state in America, it’s likely it would be Cleveland and Batman would be Lebron James, their living cash crop. However, out of the deluge of Bat-related material, fortunately for us, there is Batman Eternal, a title with a unique sense of identity. Whereas Scott Snyder’s Batman is a closeup on the titular character, looking at Gotham through Bat-colored glasses, Eternal zooms out and, more often than not, serves as a fast paced love letter to all the things we’ve come to love about what makes Gotham tick.
This issue picks up directly after the events of last week with Julia Pennyworth shutting down Batman’s secret bomb bunkers when she runs into Hush. It’s nice to see Alfred’s estranged daughter finally proving her worth to the team. She spent a LOT of time in the beginning nagging Alfred, telling him he ain’t shit because he’s a butler. So, it’s a welcome change of pace to see her with some agency. Meanwhile, Lucius Fox is at Wayne Enterprises holding back the Mayor’s office as they press him about Batman’s death bunkers (because it’s open knowledge that Bruce Wayne funds Batman). It’s just not a Batman story until the Dark Knight has left Lucius holding the bag.
Lately, this book has been on a roll and it’s definitely because of the scripting being more focused than before. Kyle Higgins is doing a great job maintaining a balance between excellent characterization and engaging action beats. Alvaro Martinez’s artwork is amazing. The thing that deserves the most credit is the way Bruce is made to look a LOT like Ben Affleck. There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not he’s going to cut the mustard in Dawn of Justice, but honestly, I see it. And it looks good in the panels.
Bottom Line: The improvement in scripting and pacing and done wonders for this book. And I have a feeling it’s only going to get better. 8 out of 10