Review: Batman Eternal #20 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Tom Seeley & Emanuel

Batman Eternal #20

BATMAN ETERNAL #20 Review

“Wild Animals”

Story by: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV

Script by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Emanuel Simeoni
Colors by: Blond
Letters by: Dezi Sienty
Cover by: Alex Garner
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Season/Act One is officially over!

Things are moving along at break-neck speed! Just as it is depicted on the cover, the story is trifold with temporary conclusions. First up, Dr. Falsario’s fate is determined after Batgirl, Batwoman, and Red Hood had been dispatched to Rio de Janeiro to bring him in. Talk about a quick fix!! This subplot only takes up four pages of the entire issue with page 17 being only a third of the page with two panels at the bottom and page 18 being three-quarters with four panels. Having the new villain met his demise at the hands of an anonymous assassin proves to be quite inopportune for Batgirl as she wanted him brought to Gotham to exonerate her father Jim Gordon. This is definitely anticlimactic since there wasn’t a proper beat-down for the newest nefarious man and more mystery is added to the overall plot. The only intriguing aspect is the sororal affection Babs (Batgirl) shows towards Jason (Red Hood). Being the progeny of Portuguese parents, one other thing that leaves my head scratching is the fact that all three heroes can speak Brazilian Portuguese. One must be beyond the best to be part of the Bat-Squad but I find this to be a bit of a stretch.

The unexpected team-up between another triumvirate of characters — Batman, Jason Bard, and Killer Croc has been quite enjoyable. The dynamics between the Dark Knight and the protector of the sewers has a lot of potential!! I was dumbfounded when this started in the previous issue. We all know that the most gripping characters are multilayered and Waylon Jones a.k.a. Killer Croc proves to be no exception. In all my years of reading numerous stories with the Big Bad Bat, I don’t recall seeing a heroic streak in the Crocodile Man. I’ll admit that this came out of left field and it works!! I hope that in the near future, these two find another reason to work together. Croc steps beyond a B-list Bat-villain to show true grit. Nothing will deter him from saving Jade, a teenage girl under his protection. The Ten-Eyed Man is also tossed aside quite easily and it’s obvious that he’s an underling for a much bigger mastermind. Role reversal at its best — Croc is a saviour and a man of honour by handing over Jade to Batman. However, he doesn’t entirely discard his ‘evilness’ as he admits to Bard that he killed two Gotham cops. The reason is that they were corrupt. Bard has gone from the clean-cut officer to a maniacal man-on-a-mission. It’s obvious that there’s more to him than meets the eye. At this point in the game, I’m wondering if he’s the Big Boss that has Batman strapped to the Bat-Signal (reminder: page 1 of issue #1). The one good thing about the New 52 is that certain characters have had a more riveting reinterpretation. The layouts for this subplot total seven pages with page 16 taking two-thirds of a page and page 18 only taking up one quarter. You can’t keep a good character down. Rest assured Croc will return but the question is whether he will be an ally or an enemy.

The last story strand of this ish features one last unlikely trio: Jim Gordon, Warden Agatha Zorbatos and Rex Calabrese a.k.a. The Lion, a character I’ve never heard of before. After doing some digging, Rex is fairly new in the Batman mythos as no known database has much on him. Talk about cryptic!! This comes to light despite Jim mentioning Rex hiding away in prison for eleven years. Anyhoo, there’s a temporary riot at Blackgate which is also quickly quelled. Good old Gordon does what he does best: play the hero. He stays true to his nature by confronting his reclusive roommate after the big reveal. The Lion is not painted as a maligned mobster. He empathizes with Jim being a father and wants to see him live another day so that he can reunite with his daughter. What really makes him stand out is not helping but choosing to remain a prisoner and brushing off Zorbatos’ praise. Jim Gordon is by far the biggest hero of this storyline but he doesn’t accept or acknowledge that label.

ALERT! SPOILER! ALERT! SPOILER! This just in………Stephanie Brown emerges as and redefines herself as Gotham’s newest vigilante: The Spoiler!! The power of the press isn’t enough. Words as weapons have gotten her nowhere. It’s time to take literal action against her felonious father and her costumed cronies. From the keyboard to the crime corners of Gotham, baddies beware! I can’t help but equate her new appearance to Julian Assange a.k.a. Mr. Wikileaks herself. Knowledge has always been power. Being a Gothamite, Stephanie realizes that this isn’t enough. She has to step up and make an actual difference. In her ‘meek’ persona as a self-styled critic, Stephanie is just as flawed as the rest of us. There are times she was self-absorbed and self-centred but that time has passed. Praise be the purple-clad protagonist!

I am unfamiliar with Emanuel Simeoni’s art. I had to research him to see his work. He illustrated the last six issues of TALON. Ashamedly, I’ll admit that I didn’t realized he already penciled the previous issue as well as #7. Awkward!! Truth be told, I don’t like the way he does faces. Killer Croc looks laughable and the one inmate looks like a juiced-up Kewpie doll. Batman’s face looks all scrunched up on page 18. At least he does justice to the ‘human’ faces. The close-up of Stephanie Brown’s eyes on page 19 is sublime! I’m no artist so it’s hard for me to objectively critique inks or colours. Nevertheless, Blond accentuates appropriately with the ‘dark’ scenes in contrast to the ‘brighter’ ones. Lastly, I will praise any letterer out there but due to current tech, I don’t see any subtle differences in the font/print. Producing a weekly book is no easy task but I’ll give Dezi Sienty his due.

Items of interest:

  • Tim Seeley continues to saturate this ‘episode’ with the supernatural/horror elements. (1) Ten-Eyed Man makes reference to the ‘Masters of the Deep Dark’ and ‘the Face of Doom’. He seems more of a prophet proclaiming that ‘Gotham’s watchful moon will go dark’ and asserts that no one can deny the ‘Eternal Falling’. (2) Dr. Falsario refers to the three heroes as ‘demons’ ‘each with heads of flame’ and asks an unknown party why he has been sent them. (3) The Court of Owls is mentioned by an inmate as ‘owl zombies’.
  • Cameos: Marcus Row (Harper & Cullen’s dad), Capt. Maggie Sawyer (Batwoman’s main squeeze), Volt (third-rate villain)
  • BEST. LINE/PUN. EVER. “Go pluck yourself, Cobblepot.” — Marcus Row
  • Rex is singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while getting ready for his reappearance.
  • The nurse attending to Jim unintentionally(?) looks like Harley Quinn. Am I off my rocker?!?
  • Critics have no right to play spoiler.” uttered by one of the most favoured critics of our time: Mr. Roger Ebert. Interesting enough, he wrote this while reviewing Million Dollar Baby. Is Stephanie Brown the underdog of Gotham?
  • There’s an inadvertent crossover with TEEN TITANS #2 (also out this week). Can you guess?!? The reference to “Crabby Cat: the Movie”. Steph seems none too pleased that a film critic dissected it. In TT, Beast Boy is watching the cartoon while bickering with Bunker.

Th-th-that’s all, folks!!

7 out of 9 Bat-points (77.7%)

Batman Adam West pointing

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