BATMAN ETERNAL #3
Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman & Tim Seeley
Art by Jason Fabok
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: April 23,2014
The most feared mobster in Gotham City history is back, and he has Batman moving quickly to avert disaster, but it may too late. Meanwhile Commissioner Gordon sits in jail as a power vacuum forms within the ranks of the GCPD, and old fan favorite makes her official return to the DC Universe. The Bat-Brain Trust, led by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV deliver another great installment of Batman Eternal, as the book quickly positions itself as one of the best comics in the DC stable.
It may only be three issues/weeks into DC’s newest attempt at a weekly comic, but Batman Eternal has all the ingredients to be on par with the publishers finest example of a weekly done right, 52. In order to pull off such a task you need a strong group of creators, and DC has definitely pulled together an all-star lineup from throughout the Batman line of books. Snyder and Tynion kick things off as the writers carrying the heavy load with Jason Fabok on art, and the results after three issues have been spectacular. The first issue featured a shocking turn of events that landed Gordon in jail, the second featured the return of Carmine Falcone, and the third starts to make connections and put the pieces in place. It may be a setup issue, as pieces are falling into place for what should be spectacular results, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fast paced issue that doesn’t take its foot off the gas for 20 pages.
The first few pages alone will make longtime DC fans squeal in delight as a certain purple wearing blonde character makes their debut, and quickly finds out her family isn’t what she thought it was. Then you have Batman frantically on the hunt for Falcone, Gordon in jail, the internal politics of the GCPD, and then cameos from The Penguin, and Cluemaster. By the end of the issue Batman realizes that everything that happens is connected, and that Falcone is making a move that could bring Gotham to her knees. It may sound like there is a lot crammed into 20 pages, and that’s because there is quite a bit happening. The issue is helped by the fact that it moves at a speedy pace, and fits everything in by not spending too much time with any one aspect of the story. Instead the quick transitions from scene to scene help convey that sense of nervousness and dread that permeates throughout the issue, and comes to a head when Batman realizes that everything that’s happening may be part of Falcone’s master plan.
The Roman is an inspired choice of villain, and his reintroduction into The New 52 has been well handled. He is smart, ruthless, and by the end of the issue proves that he will be a worthy adversary for The Dark Knight. Another interesting aspect is that within this New 52 continuity his history with Gotham remains a secret, as only bits and pieces of exactly how he was driven out of town are revealed through dialogue, and not some hamfisted flashback scenes. I hope that this continues, and we find out more about the events that drove Falcone out of Gotham five years ago organically as the story progresses.
The art team of Jason Fabok, and colorist Brad Anderson hit another home run with this issue. Between the style of Fabok, and the color palate of Anderson, the team has created a look that is quintessentially Gotham City. There are no huge standout action scenes in this issue, but that doesn’t stop Fabok from putting everything he has into each page. This especially hold true for his rendition of Oswald Cobblepot. Fabok draws the best looking Penguin I’ve seen in quite awhile. He is equal parts dapper businessman and absolutely hideous. The muted palate that Anderson uses on the colors helps make the book feel exactly how a Batman book should feel. The art is dark, but there is a surprising bit of color that is smartly subdued throughout the entire issue. If the art looks this good without a big action scene, or without a scene for Fanok to really stretch his muscles, it will be fun to see him get the opportunity to stretch those muscles more in future issues.
Overall, the only complaint that one can have about Batman Eternal #3 is that it is essentially a setup issue for what’s to come. That complaint should be rectified by how the creative team goes about the setting up, and the fact that readers won’t have to wait long for what’s next. This issue is fast paced with revelations, and shocking developments around every turn. Not to mention the return of (Spoiler Alert… get it?) Stephanie Brown, and the beginning of her journey providing another boost to the issue. By the time readers turn the last page they will have a somewhat clear idea of what Batman will be up against, but who knows what surprises lie ahead. It’s hard to believe that the creative team can keep up the pace and intensity for the entire duration of the series, but if they can then we may be in store for an all time classic Batman story.
The Verdict: 9.5/10