Batman Eternal #25. Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV, Script by James Tynion IV, Consulting Writers Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley, Art by R.M. Guera, Colors by Giulia Brusco.
Despite the large cast and multiple storylines, Batman Eternal is a satisfying read for Bat-fans. What one likes about a Batman story is in this issue. Each separate storyline gets pushed a little further, although not much. It is enough to sustain the reader’s interest for another week.
In this issue Batman gets proof of Bard’s treachery and confronts Hush for the first time directly. Meanwhile, Gordon checks on Barbara only for her to be called into the fray by Tim and Jason. It is this moment which is probably the standout which culminates on the last page. It’s clear that Snyder is building up what he previously destroyed in “Death of the Family.” Instead of a Batman who is trying to do it all by himself, this series is showing how much he needs the ‘Bat-family.’ Whether for coordinated missions where he can’t be in two places at once, or for the personal assistance of Julia Pennyworth in the cave, Batman has to rely on ‘the family.’ Hush outright states that he’s trying to make this attack personal. This leads the reader to the conclusion that this will be a critical story for Batman and the Bat-family coming back together to be stronger than ever. While Batman will always be a bit of a loner, it is satisfying to see a healthier Batman who is able to count on his friends and allies and turn to them for something more than just the mission.
Of course it isn’t all going swimmingly for Batman, the riots are getting worse, Bard has gotten approval for the mayor to institute martial law and he’s no closer to Hush because his confrontation was with a hologram. And by the end of the issue, Batman is lying under a collapsed building as ‘the family’ arrives to pull him out. While the situation isn’t any closer to victory for the Bat, his ‘family’ is pulling in closer to support Bruce on all levels. It’s a shame Dick Grayson won’t be showing up in the series.
There are some nice character moments with Bruce and Julia’s repartee as she struggles to work the Bat-Computer in the cave. It shows that Bruce has to rely on others and that he’s willing to trust Julia to an extent- which he should, this is Alfred’s daughter. Seeing Tim acknowledge the need for the Bat-Family to come together was also nice. This more than anything is a sign that there is healing coming to ‘the family.’ The story is tight and engaging with everything being relevant. Additionally, it was very new reader friendly. For followers of the other Bat-books this will be an easy issue to dive into. For casual Bat-fans there is enough in the issue to get a reader up to speed. For the reader oblivious to the Bat-verse (is there one?), it’s still a quick paced mystery with surprises and twists.
The bickering between Jason and Tim seemed to contradict the direction of the developments within the family. However, that has always been Jason’s role and it might be too much to hope for that to change. Tim’s altercation with Harper also felt a little clichéd, and it ended abruptly leaving Harper in a bit a predicament. Hush and Gotham disintegrating do feel like some rehashed concepts which could become tiresome. The art feels a little uneven. It feels a little sloppy and rushed at times. Guera seems struggle with his depiction of Batman- while non masked or mostly non-masked characters fair better. This isn’t so much of a distraction to the story but a nit-pick.
An easy to jump into issue over 1/3 way through the series, which is remarkable. The book feels like a good Batman story and it incorporates so many elements which make the Bat-Mythos so enjoyable. There is a lot to like and a lot to digest, but the creative team does a good job with it all. The direction of the development with the family dynamic is a feel good aspect to the book which makes it very likable. This may also point to the meaning behind the title of the series. By creating a family and not a team Batman will in fact become eternal. This is really 3 1/2 Daily Planets.