Wednesday, 7 May 2014

New Beginnings - Batman Eternal #1-3

by Matt Puddy

Who is the scourge of the night, the world’s greatest detective, 75 years old this year and appearing in a new weekly ongoing title from Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and more?

OK, well the title of this week’s review does give it away a little, but it's Batman.

The series has gotten off to quite a good start by turning things on their head from the very beginning. Opening immediately with a fire-strewn foreshadowing of things to come, we are greeted by the sight of a de-costumed Bruce strapped to a destroyed Bat-Signal in front of a crumbling and destroyed Gotham. Things are not looking good. However, this downfall had to start somewhere and we immediately step back to see how.

These initial issues revolve around an incident that no one would have expected, the arrest of Commissioner Jim Gordon for the deaths of a large number of Gothamites. While trying to apprehend a suspect - concurrent with Batman is taking down Professor Pyg - things aren’t what they seem. Is there a gun or not? Is he armed or is there something not right here? Why won’t he give himself up? Gordon is faced with all of this and more, leading to him making the decision to disarm the man, but in the process the bullet hits a fuse box, creating a brutal train crash that no-one can stop. What a way for a rookie, Bard - handpicked by Gordon himself - to start his first day too with the arrest of the man who brought him into the fold.

The next two issues up the ante even more, with the return of a major player as well. After addressing the Mayor and setting several other events in motion, the resurgence of Carmine Falcone shakes the city to its core and starts a gang war - aided by a corrupt interim commissioner - that Gotham has not seen the likes of before.

It’s hard to really be objective on the writing and artwork when you look at the line up emblazoned on the cover. Snyder, Tynion IV, Fawkes, Layman, Seeley and Fabok. All of these have more than established themselves at DC, and the level of work on the Batman family of titles alone is very high. Snyder for instance has quickly become a firm favourite of mine some years ago and I will happily read his stories any time. Tynion’s work is also one I like, and as he has co-written these first scripts, it can’t be a bad thing. 

The artwork is all from Jason Fabok which although not my preferred style normally, it is something I like on Batman. Throughout all these issues there is very little light. This is taking Batman back to the night and into the dingy streets of a dangerous Gotham. It’s also bringing what’s left of the family back together too after the Joker tore them asunder.

Fabok has put a slightly new twist on the Batmobile (issue #3 cover) - Bruce apparently has more versions of his cars than Tony Stark has suits. I’m not sure I’m completely taken by it but time will tell. What will be interesting is how the rest of the known villains will come in and be seen. The series is promising to look at how Batman interacts with a huge range of his allies and enemies.

With almost the first month under its belt Batman Eternal has kicked off with a bang. If you’re a Batman fan and not already on this title then I would wonder why not? If you simply like Batman and want a title that will immerse you in the mythos of the character then this would also be a good title to read, but not necessarily for the younger reader as it comes across at a teen level, and being a weekly book it will quickly get a bit expensive!

I’m hoping that the writing team are able to keep up the pace on this and I’m keen to see how far it goes.

Matt Puddy has seen some great progress on the latest piece.

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