Bat-Family Review & Spoilers: Batman Eternal #52 By Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV & Various

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“Eternal” (38 pages)
Story by: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Script by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Robson Rocha & Guillermo Ortego; Eduardo Pansica & Julio Ferreira; Tim Seeley; Ray Fawkes; David Lafuente
Colors by: Gabe Eltaeb; Allen Passalaqua; John Kalisz; John Rauch
Letters by: Steve Wands
Covers by: Jae Lee & June Chung; Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

The pay-off is here!! One entire year of weekly issues culminates! We’re all biting our nails wanting confirmation on Cluemaster’s involvement and fate as well as witnessing the tussle between the two brothers. Begin!

The first four pages present a flashback. News of the Court of Owls’ Talons terrorizing the streets is broadcast. Arthur Brown is on the phone with his daughter Stephanie trying to assuage her fears. As he steps out of his car, he gives himself the biggest pat on the back. Only he was intelligent enough to piece together all the clues to take down the Batman. He sneers at Riddler’s incompetence and the other rogues’ contempt of him.

Arthur barges into Harbor House on the Night of the Owls. Talk about being bold!! He belligerently asks for the Court to reveal itself. He’s invested two whole years of his life to implement his plan. He’ll uphold the secrecy of their society but he offers pest control. Once he identifies himself, he walks into a room of murdered Owls. He seems crestfallen. His plans have failed to launch. The bravado and false ultimatum were to get money and resources. Lincoln March snaps him out of his rêverie. It’s the beginning of a beautiful budding business relationship. To set it all off, all that is required are a few invitations. Huh.

Full circle. Complete harmony. The opening scene of issue #1 is cast into light (no pun intended!) Lincoln, who disturbingly believes himself to be Bruce’s baby bro Thomas Jr., gloats over the beaten Bat. In classic villainous pose, he extols his own virtues before taking his older sib on a sky ride. Lincoln states that he is the antithesis of the Dark Knight — he has no ID (nor idea, for that matter), and no allies. He wants to reduce Bruce and Batman to literally nothing so that he may be forgotten. Little does Lincoln know that Batman has the steeliest resolve in the entire DCU!! Bruce’s resistance is enough to surprise the cunning Owl as they crash into a building.

Julia desperately tries to raise Batman on the com-link. S.O.L. The other members chime in: Batwing, Bluebird, Red Robin, Red Hood, and Batgirl. Red Hood is in quite the pickle. He’s under an enormous amount of debris that will probably crush him at any moment. Batgirl races off genuinely distraught over Jason’s situation.

Selina overlooks the blazing city with Killer Croc by her side. She’s at a loss in terms of dealing with the situation. Jim assures himself of a positive outcome. Harvey interrupts him and gives him a sit rep. Now that the GCPD is strategically placed all over the city, Jim blares on the walkie talkie to execute his undertaking.

Back to the main event. Coincidentally, they have landed on the site where Batman first emerged as the true hero of Gotham City — during Zero Year when he faced off against the Riddler and won. Lincoln admits to being a silent observer and relishes over the irony of it all. This will be Batman’s final resting place. Despite the disadvantage, Bruce presses on. He’s about to be expire from a chokehold when some bat-signals are activated on giant video screens. Jim Gordon, you’re absolutely brilliant!!

Jim ushers a call-to-arms to ALL Gothamites. Every single citizen has the right to see the city stand. He makes quite the impassioned speech. Tonight, the entire population is Batman. A billion bat-emblems emblazon the clouds. Ingenious!! Stephanie is on her way out of town when she stops dead in her tracks. Her distracted state almost makes her a pedestrian casualty before an ordinary man pushes her out of the way. This save as well as the man’s appreciation towards the Bat-squad is enough to jar her.

Batgirl arrives in the nick of time to rescue Red Hood. Their interaction is light-hearted. As sure as the day is long, humour diffuses the tensest of situations. I love how Babs utters her disdain at Jason’s helplessness whereas he readily admits she’s made of sterner stuff than him. They are just about to reveal their true feelings for each other when Talon (Calvin Rose) flies in and safely extracts them. Red Hood is a bit stunned, to say the least. Talon tells the twosome that all available personnel have responded to Julia’s summons. He has a glint on his mask.

Quick shots are shown of Bluebird gushing over Batwoman and urging her for a team-up, of Black Canary using her cry to fight a fire, and of Katana taking down some bank robbers. Jason Bard and Maggie Sawyer are standing outside a burning building. Killer Croc bursts out with victims in tow. Selina tells Bard that mobsters lie to themselves by upholding a code of honor and not focusing on greed. She is there to provide her aid because the city belongs to everyone. Maggie is ready to pop some bullets when Bard tells her to stand down. The shocking thing is that Catwoman and Croc are actually helping.

Round three. Ding ding!! Bruce is still breathing. *phew* Lincoln is aghast that his grand scheme is becoming paper-thin. Bruce thrusts his head so hard against Lincoln that the owl mask shatters. Enraged, Linc pummels Bruce and seems like he’s about to deliver the killing blow when BOINK! a bucket hits the back of his neck. SPOIL sport. Spoiler is in fighting form!! She basks in the spotlight by impressively clocking the powerhouse. Her statement of “I’m Batman.” is a definite precursor to the WE ARE ROBIN movement. Just sayin’… When Lincoln looks up, the Bat-Squad is poised to press on with Jim smack dab in the middle! Jim’s looking for some retribution. This time around, there’s no covert drug to cloud his senses from taking a clear shot. Lincoln uses a clumsy ‘ninja smoke’ move by blowing a hole into the sewers and escaping. Red Robin wants to lead the others. Bruce wants to join the pursuit. Jim holds him up and shows him of the burgeoning Bat-signals. Batman will always be Gotham’s saviour. Bar none!

Intriguing interlude — one week has passed. Vicki Vale is annoyed at Bard’s sudden appearance in her new swanky pad. She’s still livid and ready to hang him out to dry. He doesn’t disagree. Funny enough, she’s struggling with publishing the exposé. She’s already written seventeen drafts. Bard informs her that he’s already resigned and that Maggie will be the new commissioner. He teases her about writing an eighteenth draft. Her ears are alert. For that, she’s going to need some quiet bar with a drink in hand. His status as a cop is long gone but he cracks wise by contemplating a position as one of Penguin’s henchmen.

Batman glides down to the Egyptian Club. He’s furious that Selina has her own Bat-signal to summon him. They banter about ethics. There’s a definite rupture in their relationship. Batman knows that Catwoman’s altruism had selfish motives. He always looked the other way because he believed she could be turned but this last act has erased all notions of that. She spurns him by claiming innocence, attributing it to turning the other way. OOOOHHH. BURN!

Jim Corrigan (current host of the Spectre) and Batwing have their own tête-à-tête. Jim gives his armored friend a pep talk about the supernatural experience at Arkham Asylum. Jim tells BW to chalk it up to experience and to live with it. To ignore it would lead to actual insanity. He offers BW a position with him in a new division of the GCPD dubbed the ‘Midnight Shift’. Batwing passes on it but expresses gratitude and promises to give it some thought.

Barbara is overjoyed that her father is back intact. She fusses over him a bit. She admires her dad so much for never turning his back on the adversity. She admits that her anger almost overwhelmed her completely but she had a friend to guide her in the right direction. Jim wonders who this friend may be.

Jason is sitting at a bar nursing a drink. He’s recording a message to send to Babs. Now this is a real man!! He pours his entire heart before he erases it and realizes that there’s no hope in hell of a happy ending. Instead, he calls Roy (Arsenal) to be picked up and move on to the next adventure.

Stephanie is now residing with Harper and Cullen. The Three’s Company theme song is playing in my head. Harper retreats to her private room when she receives a surprise visit from Red Robin. He wants to check up on Spoiler’s mental state and emotional well-being. Harper tells her that she’s adjusting adequately. Red Robin sees Harper as a most positive influence. He informs her that the Bat-family is her family whenever she needs it. Steph walks in. She’s formally introduced to RR. She wonders if her father’s killer has been caught. The two exchange awkward glances before he blushingly decides to leave.

Speaking of the killer……Lincoln gets his just desserts. The Court of Owls is alive and kicking!! Of course they are. Did he really think he would go unnoticed, and especially unpunished? Batman will sure have his work cut out for him.

A friendship has been rekindled. Batman and his staunchest ally Jim Gordon discuss the difficult times that the city has endured. He’s unsure if Jim is resettled and readjusted since his own allies are recuperating. Jim isn’t fooled by Batman’s small talk. He has a police scanner as well. He hears of Scarecrow breaking out some new fear toxin. Batman asks him if he would like to join him. Jim eagerly cocks his gun and accepts the invite. A new partnership is forged!!

Drop the curtain! There you have it, Bat-fans. The inevitable ending has arrived. Don’t despair. Dan DiDio made mention of a volume two. Stay tuned…

It goes without saying that everything had to be wrapped up. James Tynion properly puts away all the toys, waiting to be played with another day. Although closure is given, more doors are swung open. That is the sign of superlative storytelling. The dialogue isn’t overly enthralling but the majority of the interactions as well as the fight scenes should please all the faithful acolytes.

I’m going to cop out here and just briefly point out some things about the art. I have zero expertise when it comes to nitpicking the pencils and ink. That being said, I doff my cowl to all individuals involved. I find it extremely interesting that Ray Fawkes and Tim Seeley (two of the main writers) have taken their turn at the other side of the table. For those who are intrigued: Tim illustrated the Egyptian Club sequence (pp. 27-28) and Ray worked on Jim with Batwing (pp. 29-30), appropriately enough.

Art of the matter

• Lincoln looks like a creepy cross between Bruce and Joker

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• Lincoln’s owl mask is downright frightful

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• Lincoln’s cowl has a bat-motif to it

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• Croc really does look ridiculous in that Egyptian get-up

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• Jim Corrigan’s face is eerily deformed

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• Batwing’s visage seems vulpine

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• I’m not overly fond of Red Robin’s pug nose

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• Lincoln is every bit the crazed lunatic

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Reshuffling the deck

This final issue of volume one re-establishes/redefines the status quo in the Bat-Universe.

• Vicki Vale and Jason Bard are shoe-ins as regular supporting cast members.

• Jim Corrigan is already active in the monthly GOTHAM by MIDNIGHT.

• Could it be long before we get another teen-centric title focusing on Cullen, Harper, and Steph with occasional appearances by Red Robin?

• Jason and Roy will continue their adventures sans Kory in RED HOOD/ARSENAL.

• Batman & Jim Gordon — I bet my entire collection that this is the newest Dynamic Duo!

• The Court of Owls plan to perch in Gotham for an indeterminate time.

There is no happy medium. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. I was originally going to give this issue the follow clever rating: take the number of this issue and add them separately (5+2=7). That’s what I thought when I read it hours ago. However, upon re-reading it for this review and looking it over more carefully, I’ve decided it’s worthy of this —- if you take the infinity symbol and turn it upright, you get an…8

Oracle out!

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