With Batman in his 75th year it was inevitable that both Warner Bros. and DC Comics would be pulling no punches in bringing The Dark Knight to us in as many different facets as possible. One which I hadn’t anticipated would be ‘Batman Eternal‘ a weekly addition to the monthly ‘Batman‘ title and it’s various already existing offshoots.
Whilst ‘Batman‘ finishes up the ‘Zero Year‘ arc set firmly in the titular heroes past the rest of the Bat-family titles sit firmly in the present day with little to tie them all together in terms of story. Cue ‘Eternal‘ which includes characters from all over Gotham and the wider Batman universe and brings the continuity under one broad umbrella.
Originally previewed in ‘Batman‘ #28 the stories of ‘Eternal‘ will play out over a 60-issue series which will wrap up in the March 2015.
Prior to piking up the first few issues I was hesitant to dive in to a weekly off-shoot, writing if off as a cash cow purely to try and attract interest in to the wider Bat-family and so initially I bought this in-store rather than adding it to my subscriptions. Somewhere around issue #8 I changed my mind and so from #13 onwards ‘Eternal‘ now arrives on my doorstep.
There’s two main focusses in this title: Commissioner Gordon and a brewing mob war… actually there’s a whole lot more going on but it always comes back to these two.
The two in many ways are connected but for now the books do a great job of separating out the story threads whilst we bide our time for the bigger picture to come in to focus.
The bulk of this issue focusses on the former Commissioner Gordon currently locked up in Blackgate prison and standing trial for the deaths of hundreds of Gotham citizens. The surprise ending to the previous issue was the appearance of James Gordon Jnr, last seen falling from a bridge with one of Batgirl’s batarangs in his eye, who has made an unscheduled visit to see his father.
If there was a way to describe this issue and how it fits in to the bigger picture I would call this a turning point.
The Gordon story takes a huge turn in this issue as he questions his own fate and where he fits in to the modern-era Gotham. Meanwhile new hot-shot cop Lieutenant Bard working alongside a heavily beefed up character of Vicki Vale takes on all the bent cops and mob affiliates in Gotham.
Lt. Bard is an interesting addition to the cast, his story clearly mirrors that of young James Gordon when he first arrived in the city but here the city that the young cop arrives in is at its most dangerous.
There’s an edge to Bard which I hope will be explored in future issues, where Gordon would find the just way to keep the city safe it appears that Bard will do whatever it takes to clean up the streets. His interactions with Batman have been minimal so far but as his impact on the city increases these two are going to be forced together and it will be interesting to see what kind of relationship develops.
In many respects ‘Eternal‘ could be written off as a waste of time with many readers seeing this as a cash cow like I originally did but actually I’ve been forced to eat my words. This is an authentic and original Bat-title like any others. In many ways with this series running as it does one could argue that ‘Zero Year‘ could have become the additional title but lets not argue about that.
What DC Comics are doing here is putting some of their best talent behind as book which does much more than accompany the main continuity… this IS the main continuity and when ‘Zero Year‘ ends the following arc – ‘Endgame‘ – will follow on directly from the end of this weekly series.
There’s room for development of all characters under the Bat-umbrella and many fans of pre-New 52 continuity will be very happy to see the return of Stephanie Brown who we are told will become very important to the story in the coming weeks.
This book isn’t easy to jump in to as the story does generally flow from week-to-week with some aspects making each issue individual but if you’re looking to up your Bat-quota then this is well worth a read.