I have to admit, I’ve been completely out of the loop when it comes to BATMAN ETERNAL, so taking over to review this issue was kind of a big deal to me. BATMAN ETERNAL is primarily telling a story concerning Gotham City by nature, with everyone else relegated to supporting cast. It is one of the many different “flavors” of Batman that DC currently offers.If DC’s focus on the character of Batman isn’t your deal, what I mean by “flavors” is that every different book focusing on the character tends to offer a different facet of him.
Scott Snyder’s BATMAN is a primary focus on the character himself and how he operates. That’s no more true than in the pages of the recently concluded story arc ZERO YEAR. A story that in particular set out to codify the way Batman worked for a new generation of comic readers, while still paying homage to his many different origins. In the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS his role as a detective and street-level crusader is showcased to a higher degree than it ever has been before in the New 52. JUSTICE LEAGUE gives us the world-crusader Batman. Hyper competent, with a plan for almost every situation.
My point is, if you’re particularly upset about how Batman is used in any modern comic – you can always read something else he appears in for an almost completely different character.BATMAN ETERNAL is seemingly a story about Gotham City and how all of the people in it have become tied to Batman. Every time the stakes being raised include the future of Gotham, the character of Batman is always involved. Maybe it’s because by tying the character to his ‘own’ city writers are able to more closely establish how connected he is to Gotham city. The opposite is of course a character fixed to any one real world location – that place continues to exist despite their legacy. Gotham does not.
In BATMAN ETERNAL #21 (Scott Snyder, Tynion IV) covers more ground in the ongoing storyarc involving Batman, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and a host of other characters involved in Gotham city. Once again a classic villain returns and is up to his same old tricks, only this time BATMAN is even less aware of it than before. Will Batman overcome the machinations of a mysterious plan to ruin Gotham City once and for all? Probably.
BATMAN ETERNAL does well at building on the mystery arc that’s been cultivated over the last few issues. At the same time as we’re seeing all of these people build a plan based on taking down Gotham City and Batman, we get a brief moment with Alfred and his friend before things really kick off and villains start explaining everything they’ve been building up to. BATMAN ETERNAL isn’t really about building a mystery like that, so much as it’s about watching Batman while he tries to uncover a mystery the reader is already in on.
Unfortunately, for all the hype surrounding BATMAN ETERNAL – I just don’t feel it. Despite a strong supporting cast, a good creative team and a solid premise it all feels like it’s just stuff that Snyder couldn’t figure out a way to include in his main BATMAN storyline. That’s not to say this issue feels entirely like an afterthought or anything, it’s just that none of it is particularly interesting. As someone who’s read BATMAN for a few years now even before the New 52, I’ve seen plots to end Gotham about a dozen times, and they always work out pretty much the same.
Is that happening here? Yes, yes I think so. Otherwise, why would Snyder include a character like Hush, a character used exactly for this kind of stuff on multiple occasions before? Not only that, but this all has the exact same kinds of problems that have infested the character over the last few years. BATMAN ETERNAL has the sort of problems that have affected the character for years now. Unless at some point later in the story Batman is going to reveal that telling the new Missioner he didn’t trust him was just a ploy to seem like he didn’t have his eyes on every hand of cards being played later in the series it just comes off like a moment of weak writing.
You’re going to like BATMAN ETERNAL #21 if you eat up anything that has a cowl and pointy ears. Otherwise, it can be skipped. Maybe it’s a sign that Scott Snyder is being spread too thin, but better work has been seen out of him and I hope it’s just a brief low point and not a sign of things to come.