Batman Eternal #51. Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV- Story, James Tynion IV- Script, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley- Consulting Writers, Alvaro Martinez- Pencils, Raul Fernandez- inks, June Chung- Colors.
Surprises continue in this issue as Batman is beaten fairly thoroughly by Cluemaster. It’s believable because Bruce hasn’t slept in days and is beyond exhaustion. The issue focuses on how Cluemaster carried out his plan by distracting Batman with bigger-name threats while Cluemaster and his second-string co-horts like Firefly planned the finale with the burning of Gotham. Cluemaster’s main point to Bruce is that he is not a symbol, he is just a man. He’s a man like anyone else, and therefore vulnerable like any other man. Then the beating commences.
The tension runs high in this issue. The action doesn’t move from Batman and Cluemaster except for some brief interludes. The first shows Selina as she prevents her crimelords from taking advantage of the situation and then we see Gordon and the GCPD as they rally to try and bring some civility back to Gotham. Lastly, we catch up with Harper and Stephanie. They have it out and Stephanie rides off on her motorcycle while Harper heads back into the fray.
The story returns to Bruce and Cluemaster and Cluemaster is ready to end things the old-fashioned way with a bullet to Bruce’s head. However, it appears that Stephanie was right about Bruce Wayne, or at least someone who looks like Bruce Wayne being behind everything. Cluemaster’s throat is cut by someone from behind and Arthur Brown dies, lamenting how it wasn’t “according to plan.” Thus stands revealed the true architect of the mayhem and madness which has plagued Batman for the entirety of Batman Eternal– a Talon, Lincoln March aka Thomas Wayne, Jr., and brother.
The intensity and focus of this issue makes it hard to turn away. The reveal at the end is almost a surprise; Snyder and Co. do a good job of selling us Cluemaster as the ultimate villain in this. The reveal however is also satisfying in that it makes a whole lot more sense in terms of resources and it fits in with the first part of Snyder’s run on Batman that began three and a half years ago.
Strong issue, so this is difficult ground. It was disappointing to see Stephanie turn away from helping. There still feels like there is a lot of ground to cover in the final issue, but it may just come down to the final showdown between March/Wayne, Jr. and the hopefully soon arriving Bat-family- Bruce is in no shape to take on anyone.
Don’t miss this one. The pay-off is finally here. This Bat-epic is almost over. Even if you’ve missed the previous 50 issues you will enjoy this read and certainly be back for the final installment. Next Month teases “Eternal”- and I can begin to imagine what that might mean.