April 18, 2014
SYNOPSIS: A notorious Batman adversary appears for the first time in The New 52 continuity!
BATMAN ETERNAL #2 deals with the immediate fallout from the devastation of last week's debut issue.
A disaster on the subway tracks has left hundreds dead, and a certain Police Commissioner is being held responsible. This, of course, doesn't sit right with Batman, who begins utilizing his every resource to retrace Gordon's steps and deduce the true culprit. Gordon himself doesn't seem as certain, admitting that he is only a man, and men do make mistakes – especially when running on days with little-to-no sleep.
As Batman and Catwoman look over evidence, Mayor Hady prepares to make a statement on Jim Gordon's arrest, conversing with a shadowed figure who appears to have Hady in his pocket…along with as a good chunk of the city. As this mystery companion reminisces on the glory days in Gotham before freaks and costumes (and revealing an intent to revive that status quo), Batman realizes just who has returned to Gotham--a face many longtime Bat-readers will surely recognize, alive and well in The New 52!
While last week's issue delivered heavy on the action, this one was all aftermath. That's not necessarily a bad thing--the beauty of the weekly series is that there's plenty of time for ups and downs in the story's pacing. It's only a matter of days until the next issue goes live, so we can have a chapter that's all setup and character development without having to force in a fight scene to meet that month's superhero action quota. There's definitely an "A" story going on with Batman and his opposition, but additional threads are beginning to take hold--primarily a potentially supernatural presence at Arkham Asylum wreaking havoc on an inmate whose name should also ring a bell for hardcore fans. It will be interesting to see how this all weaves together, luckily the wait to see what's next will never be too long.
The creative team from last week is maintained here with Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV providing the story and script (with Ray Fawkes, John Layman, and Tim Seeley listed as "Consulting Writers"), and Jason Fabok on art duties. The sheer amount of characters to be found is sure to delight fans. Team ETERNAL manage to make Batman and Mayor Hady the focus of the chapter, while giving cameos to the entire current Bat-family and the two aforementioned returning classic Batman villains. Catwoman's role is quite enjoyable as well – it's always entertaining to see her and Batman interact, and the writers clearly have a grasp on the dynamic between the pair.
Fabok lays everything out there like a pro; his attention to detail could easily draw comparison to Jim Lee's work on BATMAN: HUSH, but his growing command of subtlety and cinematic sensibility evoke Tim Sale's work on THE LONG HALLOWEEN…especially when it comes to one specific character. The roses were a nice nod, you'll know what I mean.
All in all a solid entry to the latest Bat-saga, even if not earth-shattering like its predecessor. It's clear that Team ETERNAL has world-building in mind, and judging by the amount of faces we've seen in just the first two weeks, they are off to a fine start - Bobby Barrett