Batman Eternal #40. Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV- Story, Ray Fawkes- Script, Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley- Consulting Writers, Davide Furno & Paolo Armitano- Art, John Kalisz- Colors.
Batman Eternal has managed to run smaller story arcs within a larger arc much like a television season. It should come as no surprise with the proliferation of comic book television shows currently airing. Clearly, the team has planned out the story from the beginning to be able to do this effectively. Is this the future of comics? If it is, Batman Eternal has certainly managed to make a case for the format.
We begin with Batman trapped in an avalanche with the Riddler. The Riddler has offered up some teases to try and get Batman to think about his situation. He says it’s right in front of Batman and he can’t see it. He also challenges Batman on his detective skills. Meanwhile, back in Gotham Selina offers the coalition of Bat-foes a chance to work with and enlarge the scope of their vision. However, they are none too happy to join her Firefly blasts her vehicle, giving us momentary pause on the well-being of Catwoman. As she makes her getaway, one of her associates alerts her to an odd “hit.” From the description we know that it’s Stephanie Brown. Catwoman sets off to find her. At the Gazette, Vicki’s editor, Warren, is shot and rushed to the hospital. Jim Corrigan pulls Maxie Zeus out of the river and ensures that all of Blackfire’s magic has been purged from Zeus’ body. With this last bit, the story turns back to the Spectre’s involvement and the potential for more supernatural elements.
Vicki Vale gets a nice bit of character work and action in this issue. This is a nice touch as it indicates that she will probably take a more proactive role in the story as opposed to observing as she has thus far. The Riddler’s pushing of Batman towards answers is intriguing. It feels like both Batman and the reader should’ve figured out the big bad at this point. I’m going to throw Ra’s al Ghul out there. The simultaneous destruction of Batman, Bruce Wayne and Gotham itself would fit the character’s M.O., as well as fit the clues the Riddler is feeding Batman.
The different storylines are back in this series and it slows things down a bit. It also makes the storyline be a bit unwieldy as it throws a lot of stuff at the reader. However, from past experience with Batman Eternal, it is safe to say that there will be a payoff as the creative team works through these new series of subplots and begins focusing on more intimate situations in the coming weeks.
This is another solid chapter in the Batman Eternal saga. No reason to jump ship at this point. For a new reader it might be a bit confusing to start this late in the game. There is a sense we are on the verge of figuring out the big bad very soon. 3 1/2 Daily Planets.