‘Batman Eternal‘ #14 features a cover by Dustin Nguyen; is written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with art by Jason Fabok and colours by Dave McCaig.
Following a heavy focus on the James Gordon story in #13 (reviewed here) this issue switches the focus to spend more time on the mob war which threatens Gotham. Crusading Lt. Bard continues to make waves across the city and things at Arkham Asylum are getting weird.
Firstly I have to give massive praise to Dustin Nguyen whose covers on this series are getting better week by week. Last week the image of a shadows Gordon behind bars was dark and hugely foreboding. This week the image of a bleeding Penguin and the shadow of Batman feels more like a noir-esque film poster. His art is versatile and is a shining example of the out-of-the-box approach to this book.
The opening sequence featuring Scarecrow sets the scene for a more paranormal bent which we’ll see explored in upcoming issues and I was a little thrown by this given how mainstream ‘Batman‘ is so often set in a more grounded reality but I’ll roll with it and see where it goes.
The more contained story of the week around Lt. Bard striking on Penguin and Falcone ties up some of the mob war brilliantly. Having taken our the new Commissioner of Police last week this week Bard as his sights set even higher and in doing so really brings focus on himself from Batman.
In reviewing #13 I said that as the story progressed there would be a need for more of a focus on the relationship between Bard and the Bat and the spotlight is thrown on that relationship here. I also mentioned there was an edge to Bard that set him apart from a young Gordon and it would appear that Batman has picked up on this also.
It’s great to see Batman question the motives of the police. They might be getting results but there comes a point where the police are not better than the criminals that they chase due to their methods. Bard clearly needs to prove himself to Batman and he seems determined to do so.
Gordon, still in Blackgate, has a rougher time this week. His lack of self confidence reaches a new high this week and see’s him make a questionable decision about his future. His character has been brilliantly written in these most recent issues and its great to see so much focus being heaped on characters other than Batman/Bruce Wayne as would be the case in the main title.
Story wise this book continues to push itself week-by-week without languishing on any particular story. The balance of main story and subplots works despite the reduced page count and that’s great to see here. Each week ‘Eternal‘ proves itself a little more as a serious entity be it with striking cover and imagery or with a well planned and well executed story.
As much as the story features an ensemble cast so does the creative team but where other teams might struggle to keep the peace and make all their voices heard you get the sense whilst reading this issue that behind the scenes things are going great and that all involved are enjoying writing and drawing this book.
The mob story should continue to reverberate from here but in the meantime I’m intrigued to see what is going on in the bowels of Arkham.