Batman Eternal #26. Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV- Story, James Tynion IV- Script, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins, Tim Seeley- Consulting Writers, R.M. Guera- Art, Giulia Brusco- Colors, Juan Ferreyra- Flashback Art & Colors.
This weekly series is pacing very similarly to a classic newspaper adventure strip. I find this to be a good thing. Some action, move the main story and sub-plot forward and set it up for a cliffhanger for next week. While it’s not that different from many other titles in this era of decompressed storytelling, the weekly format is certainly a benefit here. And it doesn’t hurt that the story itself is of a large enough scope to really keep the readers on their toes.
Picking up from last issue, the Bat-Family has reconvened in the Cave so Bruce can get patched up from the increasingly likeable Julia Pennyworth. Before Bruce can storm off to be alone, Tim confronts him with the brewing subplot from last issue- ‘how can the Bat-Family help?’ Bruce tells everyone about Hush’s involvement and we get a recap of Hush’s history with Bruce from before his parents’ accident and he descent into madness. The issue has two cliffhangers! Hush has spirited Alfred out of the hospital to be the Joker’s Daughter’s plaything and Stephanie Brown has the tables turned on her after confronting her father in prison.
This issue continues to set up a big payoff for the chemistry within the Bat-Family. The focus on the family is a really effective way of drawing the reader in. Everyone can relate to family and the creative team is using that simple connection to push the story forward. From Hush’s attack on the heart of the Bat-Family- Alfred, to the re-building of trust within the members of the family, Batman Eternal is about family and one can easily see Bruce having to come to grips with this and come out of the ordeal stronger than ever.
The flashback art by Juan Ferreyra is a major contrast to regular artist R.M. Guera. Ferreyra’s pages look more like a Vertigo or independent horror comic than Batman, and it serves both the function of the flashback and the story being recounted. Guera this time around is clearly channeling some Frank Robbins. It is apparent in figures and faces especially, I still find his Batman a little weak, but he gets a lot of expression in the faces and postures of his figures.
As long as the story keeps moving and we continue to get the nice character moments it’s hard to see a negative in this series. It’s as good as any Batman story and as long as there is a satisfying conclusion, the negatives will continue to be minimal if not non-existent. Should there be no change to the status quo with the Bat-Family then all of this will have been for naught and it nags at my brain as I look forward to the next installment.
If you haven’t gotten on board this series, it’s not too late. The developments within the Bat-Family at this point provide an easy and interesting place to jump on. The family element driving this story is engaging. If you’re a Bat-fan then this should be right near the top of your list, and if you are a casual Bat-reader you will enjoy this issue and series, too. The story continues next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!