Wednesday, June 4, 2014

SPOILERS: Batman Eternal #9

Carmine Falcone has got 99 problems and... well, a derogatory term for a woman, which I'm sure Falcone would use if the company publishing this book was a little looser with it's dialogue restrictions, is certainly one. Catwoman is causing problems for Falcone, and given their past history with plenty of unfinished business, Falcone makes sure Commissioner Dickhead Forbes knows that Catwoman is equal to Batman in terms of his priorities.

Speaking of Batman, he's in Hong Kong fighting off the Ghost Dragons (remember earlier in Layman's Detective run?) and has been joined by the Batman of Japan (Mr. Unknown) for backup. Turns out the Ghost Dragons are working for a man named Shen Fang, who was at war with Falcone until recently, and Batman wants Fang to tell him why Falcone left Hong Kong. While all this is happening, the same woman from the end of last issue is cursing the potential of Batman ruining everything she's planned.

After meeting in the Batman Inc. Hong Kong base with Canary and Jiro's Alfred who reads tea leaves and warns Batman of bad shit to come, Bruce and Jiro head out to Fang's hideout to confront him. As the duo fight through Fang's guards, Bruce gets ahead of Jiro and comes across the woman who has been keeping an eye on him. She tries to fight Batman off, telling him she's planned to take down Fang, and won't have him get in her way. Despite Batman trying to get her to stand down and work with him, she refuses, which distracts her enough to allow Fang to sneak up behind her and put a katana through the gut.

Fang is a big dude, but is no match for Batman who eventually gets him to talk. Turns out Fang didn't win the gang war with Falcone, instead, it was Falcone who came to Fang, and offered him the opportunity to "win" (despite him losing badly on all accounts) their feud, as long as he was given a cut of 60% while he returned to Gotham after learning of an "opportunity." So with no real info, all Batman can rest on is the fact that he shamed Hong Kong's gang lord in front of his men, but there's also the question of the mystery woman bleeding out on the floor.

Meanwhile, in Gotham, Selina goes to hit a big safe full of Falcone's money, but runs into a trap. After Selina is subdued by the police, Falcone shows up to tell her that her greed and personal vendetta makes her a bit predictable, and he promises to leave a few scars on her for the ones she left on him. Good news is, according to Falcone, she won't have to live with them. UH-OH.

While that's going down, Bruce is on his way back to Gotham with the mystery woman patched up and passed out in the back of the plane. He tells Alfred that she'll be staying with them, which Alfred is surprised to hear, questioning bringing in a "stray." Turns out she's not a stray so to speak, Bruce had to do some digging, and despite the woman being one of those people who "doesn't exist," he finds that she's Special Reconnaissance Regiment member by the name of Julia.

Julia Pennyworth.


The Good:

Guillem March kills it on the art, as usual. He and colorist Tomeu Morey are a force to bee reckoned with, and I will sing their praises for however long they continue to work together. 

In terms of story, this book accomplished both aspects of what Batman Eternal has done best so far. First, provides an interesting story with characters we all know and love, and second, finds a way to work in characters from all corners of the Bat universe like Jiro... and Julia, who actually isn't new, just a really, really obscure pre-Crisis character. 

We're also starting to see everything start to come together. Before Eternal started we had two major teases, the Thanksgiving teaser and Batman #28. It would be safe to assume that Julia is the woman with the green jacket in the Thanksgiving teaser (second to last panel in this issue shows a profile pic of her with a similar collar), and with that in mind, the figure in the Batcave in Batman #28 seemed to have a similar coat on, and given that we know Alfred is going to be taken out of commission at some point, it would make sense for his supposed daughter to work his position. Also, unrelated to that, it seems like the Catwoman "you left me to die" moment should be coming up soon. Ultimately, most of Batman Eternal's major threads have been set up, and now these past two issues have really started to deliver on the promise of what's to come.

The Bad:

Some of the dialogue gets a bit hammy at some points. There's a little excessive exposition and some cliched "We shouldn't be fighting we are on the same side!" instances, but nothing too atrocious. 

I do wish we learned more about why Falcone returned to Gotham other than there was an "opportunity." Well, yeah. Duh. Tell me more.

The Bottom Line:

Batman Eternal has really hit its stride these past two issues, and with this week's, goes into some truly unexpected places with the reintroduction of a character long lost to DC's other continuity reboot. While it's sad to know John Layman's time in Gotham is coming to an end, at least he goes out with really kickstarting Batman Eternal into gear, having it starting to deliver a great, compelling story, that reaches all ends of the Bat universe, providing unexpected twists along the way. Real good stuff.



  1. didn't Roadrunner died in Batman Eternal 7 when Professor Pyg put a bomb on his car??