Remember how Batwing and the Spectre('s host) are Gotham's newest buddy cop duo? Let's check on them heading into Arkham, surely nothing bad is going to hap-HAHA... they're fucked.
Let's go over the cutaways first, shall we? First, Tim arrives in Tokyo, and lets Harper know he knows she's there. Harper is annoyed, but wants to help, Tim wants nothing to do with her, but that ain't going to happen. Across the globe, Jason and Barbara find that plastic surgeon they're looking for, but so has Batwoman, as followers of the Crime Bible have lead her to him, so they've both got an interest in the due. Finally, Jason Bard continues to clean up the gangs (with the help of Batman in the shadows) and the two come seem to come a mutual respect... Well, at least Batman does, given last issue's ending.
Moving on to Batwing and Corrigan, yeah, Arkham isn't in great shape. Immediately they're met by a receptionist who is Magpie in disguise, but she's dealt with easily. As they go deeper into the asylum, they find it torn to shreds, blood and dead bodies everywhere. Corrigan has picked up on some serious dark magic, which Luke is still skeptical about, but the more messed up things get, the more he starts to question what he knows.
The duo move deep into the depths of the Asylum to find Scarecrow, hung up by some magic, looking as if he's a some sort of magical syphon or conductor... Yeah, weird shit, that's for sure. Not long after they find crane, some seriously messed up looking ghouls start to emerge from the walls and attack Luke and Corrigan, who is unable to summon the Spectre.
Luke gets dragged deeper into the Asylum through the floor, where Joker's Daughter finds him, meanwhile Corrigan is dragged down a hallway and meets the man behind it all... He calls himself Mister Bygone, and he's quite creepy looking. Corrigan says they'll never get the Spectre or Luke from him, by Bygone tells Corrigan that he's already given up what is needed.
A year or so ago, Dustin Nguyen illustrated an American Vampire mini series, where his usual style was altered a bit. Granted, he was doing the art solo without his usual inker Derek Fridolfs, but that wasn't the only difference. His style showed a bit more... chaos. Everything looked a little more hand painted with a little more flourish instead of carefully dictated line work, and it set this gloriously creepy tone to that book... Which works perfectly in this creepy Arkham setting. Nguyen, with the help of Fridolfs on inks, sort of mixes that more freeform style with the backgrounds and setting, with his usual style for the character work that we've all come to know over the years, and like I said, it fits the creepiness of this story like a glove. And boy is it creepy.
Ray Fawkes was billed as the writer who was going to handle the supernatural and creepy elements to this story, and he does that quite well, as the story goes from "Oh well, Arkham is messed up again" to "Oh shit, it's REAL messed up" as Luke and Corrigan go deeper and deeper into the Asylum. Obviously, with Arkham Manor on the horizon, some big stuff is going to go down, and even though the mystical sort of stuff (at the moment) seems secondary to the larger story being told, it still manages to stand tall next to the rest of the plot on it's own unique merits.
The Bottom Line:
With everything that has been happening in Batman Eternal recently, it was probably a bit easy to forget about the Batwing/Spectre plot which we haven't seen in close to ten issues, but man... is it back, and back with a vengeance. Fawkes, Nguyen, Fridolfs and Kalisz do an amazing job setting the dark tone for this corner of the broad story, once again exhibiting all the crazy and entertaining potential Batman Eternal is capable of. Not sure what's going down under the Asylum yet, but man can I not wait to find out next week.