Batman Eternal #52. Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV- Story, James Tynion IV- Script, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley- Consulting Writers, Eduardo Pansica & Julio Ferreira, Robson Rocha & Guillermo Ortego, David Lafuente, Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes- Artists, Allen Passalaqua, Gabe Eltaeb, John Kalisz & John Rauch- Colors.
“Eternal.” It’s the title of this issue’s story and part of the title of the book. Put the other word in the title together with it and you get Batman Eternal. The conclusion makes it clear that this story has been about something bigger all along. It’s actually dealt with a lot of bigger issues. But the one central to our title character has dealt family and legacy, or in a single word- Eternal. The conclusion examines Batman’s ability to forge the belief in the people of Gotham that he is not simply a man. This idea was also explored in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” film trilogy but from a different perspective. With Batman Eternal, Synder and company have addressed this concept in a manner that fits much better with the character while at the same time touching on Batman’s humanity in a more satisfying way.
The issue opens in flashback as we see Arthur Brown on the Night of the Owls infiltrating the Owl’s Nest after they had been murdered by Lincoln March. We discover that he figured out the mystery of the existence of the Court of Owls. There he meets Lincoln March and they make a deal. Brown believes he’s executing a plan of his devising and March piggy-backs on this to get what he wants. When we jump to the present, March is verbalizing his goal of proving to Bruce that he is just a man and that’s all he’ll ever be and that with his death, Bruce Wayne and Batman will be forgotten by Gotham. Clearly, he sees himself as being the eternal one with the Owl’s rejuvenating formula and the defeat of Batman at his hands. While they hammer it out, the Bat-family continues to try and protect the still burning city.
Gordon in some ways is the prime mover in this issue. His plan works beautifully. He’s synched up all the public forms of broadcasting in the city to hear his plea, and as he beams the Bat-Signal from every location available, his words bring the people of Gotham to action. Essentially, he states the exact opposite of what March has said- everyone be Batman tonight, Gotham needs its people to do what he does every night. And with that, the people step up. Julia has contacted the heroes of Gotham- Talon, Batwoman, Black Canary. Selina even utilizes her influence over the mobs to assist. The Bat-family arrives in time to save Bruce and to go after March. In the end, March gets away only to receive retribution from a still secret and clandestine Court of Owls. Both live to fight another day. Batman and Gordon close the issue out with a scene on a rooftop indicating that everything is the same but different. Perhaps, for Batman the biggest change is knowing his work matters in ways he might not have imagined and he has the support of family and friends and perhaps it’s not so lonely under that cowl after all.
The biggest positive for this issue is that the conclusion manager to change the psychological landscape of the character. Moving forward, Batman doesn’t have to be as dark and alone as he has so often been depicted. He can rely more on his personal relationships than ever before. Snyder and company managed to wrap up a lot quickly, without dragging it out with excessive fighting. The art by Fawkes and Seeley in different styles really added to the overall look of the book.
Not going to find anything here, move along, nothing to see.
Very often, huge epic stories like this leave something to be desired in the conclusion. Batman Eternal is not like that. Perhaps, it’s the length allowed Snyder and Co. to tell their story. Is Batman fundamentally different after this? No. But, he has been given a psychological makeover and sets him on different footing that we haven’t seen in his portrayal in decades. Moreover, this change occurred in story and not as part of a reboot of the character. With this, Batman is Eternal. If you missed this series, just get the trades, you’ll be glad you did.