Batman Eternal #49. Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV- Story, Kyle Higgins- Script, Ray Fawkes & Tim Seeley- Consulting Writers, Fernando Blanco- Art, Marcelo Maiolo- Colors.
“Don’t worry, Alfie. We’re closing in on the finish line now. It’s in sight.” As Hush utters these words to the imprisoned Alfred Pennyworth, they could very well be spoken to the reader as well. The story certainly has to conclude soon, we’re only a few issues away from the end and it appears that it’s going to be a quick ending in order to wrap up the storylines.
This issue opens with Jim Gordon doing his best Rorschach impersonation, though stopping from crossing the line as he takes out the Penguin in Blackgate. Alfred gets his moment in the spotlight as he escapes his confines to put the beat down on Hush, just in time to give control of the Batcomputer back over to Julia. In the streets, Batgirl, Bluebird, Red Hood, Red Robin and Batwing are all on the ropes as the Batcomputer comes back online for an assist. Lastly, Batman shows up in the Batplane to get Bane away from Red Hood.
In the middle of the issue there is a sequence with Stephanie and her dad, Cluemaster. His speech is very interesting, as it appears that he might be the one behind all that’s been going on in Batman Eternal. “I’m actually quite impressed, Stephanie, that you’ve figured this all out.” Is that a confession? Is the big reveal this subtle? Or is he referring to something else that’s occurred off-panel that we are not privy to. Or is he heading towards Bane an indicator. All of his associates are in trouble and he goes to Bane.
Fast paced issue that keeps the story going. The bit with Steph and her dad is a nice moment. Gordon and Alfred getting right in on the action was also fun. The use of the ensemble cast is paying off in this part of the story, as Batman learns that he’s not alone and has a Bat-family. It’s not stated, but at this point, it’s clear that the Bat-family is a critical element to the Batman character.
The Gordon and Alfred bits seemed a bit contrived. If Alfred was capable of getting out as easily as he did, why wait? Gordon’s takedown of the Penguin, while entertaining was maybe a little over the top for Jim Gordon. While the issue had a quick pace, it still feels as if the story is moving a little slowly to the end. This issue felt like a set up for what comes next.
Overall, this was a weaker episode of Batman Eternal. It fits into the bigger picture as a set up for the finale, but on its own it is a bit meandering. It closes out some of the story points from the previous issue, but seems to stall out as it approaches the end of this Bat-Epic.