Thursday, April 16, 2015

Batman Eternal #52 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Not surprisingly, for a series spanning 52 issues and an entire year, Snyder and Tynion have a lot of ground to cover here, in this final issue.  In reality, this issue is really two separate issues, the first handling the denouement of the story and the second giving us the aftermath. 

Let's start at the very beginning (always a very good place to start).  I'll admit that I was skeptical about Lincoln Marsh appearing as the Big Bad.  (We learn here that it really was Lincoln, not Hush, that Stephanie saw in the kitchen.)  It was too Gary Stu-ish, Snyder inserting his creation into a story where he didn't seem to fit.  That said, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was more or less necessary.  For all Cluemaster's brilliance in pulling together the scheme, he really did need resources to do it.  He made a compelling case last issue that all he really did was suggest that bad guys do the sort of things that bad guys do.  However, he definitely needed some seed money to facilitate them actually doing said things.  Lincoln provided that funding, something he could easily do given that he controlled the Court of Owls at that point.  You could argue over whether it had to be Lincoln, or whether any A- or B-List villain with access to that sort of funding could've filled this role.  But, in the end, Snyder chose Lincoln, and he's frankly as good of a choice as any.

As Bruce himself alludes, the fight between him and Lincoln goes pretty much the same way that it did the first time.  Lincoln monologues as Bruce dismantles his attacks.  In the end, we have the moment that Snyder and Tynion clearly view as the denouement of this series:  as Lincoln tells Bruce that his death will send Gotham into a permanent chaos similar to the one currently spreading throughout the city, Gordon flashes Bat-signals throughout the city, telling Gotham's citizens to be like Batman and save themselves.  I have to say, though, that this moment fell flat for me.  One of the hallmarks of this series has actually been how little Bruce has done.  While Batgirl, Batwing, Bluebird, Red Hood, and Red Robin have been out there saving people (as they do  here), Bruce has hid in the cave or flown to Pakistan.  He's done precious little to help Gotham; in fact, his quest to find the identity of the mastermind had more to do with his ego than it did with Gotham.  If that Bat-signal means anything, it's because of the Bat-family members' actions, not Bruce's.  In fact, combined with Snyder's theme of Batman's incompetence, you could almost read the moral of this story as:  Batman Irrelevant.  Even common citizens can do what he does now.  Maybe it's time for him to retire.

Looking to the aftermath, Snyder and Tynion leave a lot on the table.  It's still unclear if Bruce is going to get back his money.  Bard is allegedly going to tell his story to Vicky; she warns him that he'll never work in law enforcement again, but you have to wonder how he'd ever walk the streets a free man again after he was accessory to the murder of several GCPD officers.  Despite Mayor Hady a few issues ago calling Jim Gordon the most hated man in Gotham, doubting that even the truth could redeem him, it seems that all sins have now been forgiven.  Sure, he's no longer Commissioner, but how long will that last?  The only real resolution that we get is Catwoman bringing even the Penguin under her control.  (She was the boss that the Penguin mentioned as he fled Blackgate with Croc.)

Snyder and Tynion also don't focus on how the events of this series impact the Bat-family.  In fact, the only character to show any emotional arc over the course of the series is Jason.  When he thinks that he's dying, he tells the Cave that he wants them to record him, because he has to tell Bruce something.  (Boy, I would've loved to have heard that message.)  Later, he deletes a message to Babs about the possibility of something happening between them.  Other than Jason, the only hint of emotion happens when Stephanie and Tim share an awkward moment.

I was tempted to write a retrospective post, looking over this entire series.  But, honestly, I just don't care enough to do it.  When I read through my past review, I was reminded that my dislike of this series stands on pretty solid ground.  In the end, the story was just too big.  Moments like the Penguin being in Gordon's jail cell in issue #49 but then escaping on a boat with Croc in issue #50, with no explanation of how he got from Point A to Point B, were too frequent.  The story lacked any real emotional underpinning, other than the moments in this issue with Jason and a few moments of Babs coming unglued over her father's imprisonment earlier.  For the fact that this issue brings together the Bat-family after the events of "Death of the Family," you would've thought that we would've gotten some honest conversations between the team and Bruce.  But, Snyder and Tynion kept them separated for most of the series, funneling their communication through Julia.  Other than Catwoman, everyone is exactly where they were when they started.

In the end, I'm just glad to see it done.  I can't think of a better epitaph than that.

** (two of five stars)

3 comments:

  1. Not sure if I understand your rating, 2 of 3 stars ?

    Whatever are you ready for eternal 2?

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  2. Good catch! I fixed it, because I definitely meant 2 of 5 stars. The sad thing? I'll probably totally get the second season, since it's apparently all about the Robins.

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  3. I didn't knew that, well at least the robins seems to be more smart than Bruce in this series..

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