By Scott Synder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, and Jason Fabok
I’ve made a huge mistake.
If you remember back when Batman Eternal was first announced, then good because I don’t. But I imagine my response would have been something along the lines of, “That sounds cool…Wait, it’s a weekly? Never mind. Nope. Not getting sucked into that.” To be honest, that reaction was more about the cost than the quality of the series. I was afraid that if I started to read it, I would love it and would end up buy the whole damn series. Well, I kind of went back on my word and bought the first issue. To my immediate dismay, I loved the issue.
Let’s begin with that cover. Jason Fabok did a superb job at conveying just what the entire series is meant to be about: not just Batman, but the entire Bat-Family. Appearing in the cape are allies such as Red Hood, Batgirl, Alfred, Batwing, and Red Robin and villains such as Catwoman, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, Riddler, and Penguin. If all goes as planned, this title should have a HUGE cast. And that is exactly what I am looking for. Oh, and there is one character I forgot to mention. He is standing at the forefront of the ensemble. That man is Jim Gordon, and it is transparent in this first issue that he will have an extremely importat role in the overall story.
Flip to the first page. This is the end, and Gotham is burning. Destroying Gotham is nothing new in the Batman world, but once you get to that third panel, you realize that this is far more sinister than anything we have seen before. Shackled by chains to what appears to be the Bat-Signal is Bruce Wayne. Both from the voice telling Bruce that he/she has taken everything from him + the Bat symbol carved into his chest let’s us know that the villain may very well know Bruce is Batman. Who does the voice belong to? Did he/she know Bruce was Batman before this story or is this a new revelation? Either way, after getting a good look at his eyes in that bottom panel, we see that despite looking weary, Bruce seems to still have some fight in him. While his city burns around him, a fire burns inside of Bruce Wayne.
We then jump to present day where Jason Bard is first arriving in a pre-scorched Gotham City. This may be Bard’s first appearance in The New 52, but his very first appearance came in a 1969 issue of Detective Comics. Pre-N52, Bard was a cop working under Gordon while working for Batman. Not much seems to have changed in his arrival to this new continuity, but this does signify that the creators are going to be reintroducing some seemingly forgotten characters (see the sneak peek in Batman #28 for a “spoiler”). Jason feels very much like an analogue to Jim Gordon from Year One. I suspect we will find more similarities as the story progresses.
I’m not going to run through the issue page by page, but suffice it to say that Batman and Gordon team-up to rescue children Professor Pyg is attempting to transform into Dollotrons. The banter between Batman and Gordon as the dark knight rushes to the scene is prefect. After B-Man arrives, the baddies run for it and they are forced to split up. Batman takes down Pyg while Gordon goes after a henchmen named
Spider Jerusalem Grady. Gordon chases Grady into the subway and seemingly causes the train cars to crash, killing many. And even while we know the whole scenario was set-up to frame the commissioner, the fun part will be trying to figure out WHODUNIT.
Other than the ridiculous way Gordon’s arrest occurs and the glaring typo on the final page, this was a solid issue. Fabok nails it on the art, creating a dark and mysterious tone for the series. Being a weekly, I imagine there will be several issues which miss their mark. But this was not one of them. I understand that money is going to be the biggest deterrent to many of you reading this series, and I don’t blame you. Half the reason I am pull this weekly is so I can let you know where or not it is worth it to check out (not that my opinion means all that much). My recommendation: pick up this first issue. As for the second…I’ll let you know next week.