- Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
- Script by Ray Fawkes
- Consulting Writers: John Layman & Tim Seeley
- Art by Andy Clarke
- Cover by Alex Garner
- Colours by Blond
It’s time to take a short break from the dungeons of Arkham and the lights of Tokyo to spend some time catching up with the Bats: Man, Girl and Woman plus Red Hood, Lieutenant Bard and former-Commissioner Gordon in issue #18 of ‘Batman Eternal‘.
Taking over the reigns of cover artist this week is Alex Garner who does a great job of contrasting the two-tone covers of Dustin Nguyen by crafting a scenic portrait of Lieutenant Bard, Batman and Killer Croc as if lifted from the pages of the story itself. Those familiar with his recent work on the ‘Batgirl‘ title will recognise his work instantly.
This title is providing some excellent cover art to behold and the rendering of Batman here is worthy of any fans gallery wall.
Inside this issue the artwork takes on a new edge of realism as Andy Clarke takes over again from Nguyen. Where Nguyen has a stylistic flair that reduces realism for a more cartoon impression Clarke uses stark realism to illustrate the story. Proportions are more human, facial expressions carry for weight and shadows eat away at each and ever panel.
Another contrast in this issue is the appearance of Batman to carry the bulk of the story as he searches for a killer in the Gotham sewers with new companion Lieutenant Bard. It was inevitable that these two would be thrown together in a story sooner rather than later and this gives them the chance to really out their difference in front of each other and then aside to fight for a common goal. Bard proves himself the naive newcomer when he blames Croc for a killing which Batman can clearly see is not the case.
It’s clear to see that the writers area handling the relationship between the two characters with caution and great consideration rather than thrusting them into a situation similar to that which Batman had with the former Commissioner.
Speaking of the former Commissioner he makes a reappearance in this issue after taking a short break from the proceedings. He now finds himself sharing Blackgate Penitentiary with both Penguin and Falcone who find themselves locked up after the events of issue #14 (reviewed here!).
Also making an appearance after some time out are Batgirl, Batwoman and Red Hood. Still in Rio they continue their hunt for evidence to free Gordon from his sentence.
Though their appearance is short it moves the story along nicely after the break and seemingly introduces Count Vertigo or a villain derivative to the fold and sets up for a brilliant hero-vs-hero story in the near future.
It’s worth noting that the writers have found a lacing in this issue which fits the title well. When they try to cram more stories in it can become muddled or nothing more than a check-in issue which simply reminds us of everything that is happening. The series works best where two stories take the forefront and allow a short moment for seeing what else is happening in this world as a quick breather.
Another solid issue.