Mark: In a few weeks, the Batman Eternal creative team will have produced more issues than even the longest running New 52 books. With the task of producing so much content, the challenges of serialization in a weekly title are magnified compared to a monthly title. Plot and action have to be metered out very carefully as to not burn through too much too fast, but at the same time every issue still has to feel like an event as readers have been trained to expect by monthlies. With that in mind, it’s enjoyable for me to watch the writers of Batman Eternal juggle the many, many plot threads they have introduced over 30 issues. I’ve read every issue since the title launched, and every few weeks I have a good “Hey, remember when this thing was about NANOBOTS?!” moment when something introduced months ago and seemingly dropped suddenly comes back to the forefront. The narrative whiplash is part of the fun. Continue reading
Patrick: Comic books aren’t exactly a safe space for women. Like any medium with a long enough memory, comics carry some pretty ugly baggage when it comes to the depiction and treatment of female characters. It seems things are even rougher for residents of Gotham City, arguably the quintessential “comic book city” — not only are the police corruption and organized crime families stuck in the 1930s, but an awful lot of those gender politics linger there too. You needn’t look any further than the most recent Catwoman series to know what I’m talking about. A lot of the same specifics that plagued that series are present in Batman Eternal 27 — themes of sexual slavery, Selina’s dangerous naivety, gratuitous ass shots, even a cameo from Mr. Bone — but the issue manages to present these problems as a contrast to the world Batman Eternal seems hellbent on cultivating. Is the BE team’s Gotham a better place for female characters? Continue reading
Suzanne: I fondly remember reading Batman: Hush for the first time over five years ago. There is so much to like about that book — Jeph Loeb’s long-form storytelling, Jim Lee’s pencils, and the Batman-Catwoman relationship to name a few. Loeb develops the friendship between Bruce Wayne and Tommy Elliot so convincingly that it adds creative tension to the final reveal. You almost want Hush to be someone else because of the depths of his betrayal to Bruce.
Batman Eternal introduces Hush to the New 52 as the Big Bad behind the crippling of Gotham City starting with the arrest of Jim Gordon. How does this series’ treatment of Hush add relevance to him as a character? After Loeb and Lee’s story arc, some readers felt that Hush was overused and his appearances were mediocre at best. Certain characters benefit from a dormant period and less can be more, such as The Joker. I’m hoping that three years of living in New 52 character purgatory makes this appearance all the more effective. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and (guest writer) Mark are discussing on Batman Eternal 22, originally released September 3rd, 2014.
Spencer: 2014 marks the 75th Anniversary of Batman, so it’s easy to understand why DC decided to publish a weekly Batman book this year. It’s interesting to me to think about Batman Eternal as a part of the celebration, though, because it’s a series that is decidedly not about Batman; instead, it’s focused on those who Batman has inspired and the city he protects. Issue 22 is the first in a new arc, but it only further emphasizes those themes, welcoming a reluctant new ally into the family and presenting more villains with their own twisted ideas about what Gotham city truly is.
Today, Patrick leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 13, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Patrick: One of the bigger driving forces within Batman Eternal is Carmine Falcone’s desire to rid Gotham of “freaks” like the Penguin and Professor Pyg. In effect, Falcone is trying to drive all the fantastical elements out of Gotham City — whether they’re heroes or villains doesn’t seem to matter much to him. He’s even gone so far as pit the police directly against the Bat Family, furthering the absoluteness of this idea of fantasy vs. reality. But there’s a point that Falcone is missing — or willfully ignoring: everyone engages in a little bit of fantasy to get what they want. What Jim Gordon experienced in the train station – was that fantasy or reality? Covering up a gang war: fantasy or reality? Issue 13 brings that dichotomy into stark relief, showing how embracing fantasy can be equal parts advantageous and horrifying. Continue reading
Spencer: Batman Eternal is a loaded title. In our world, Batman is already 75 years old, and it’s easy to see this character, with his endless reinterpretations, existing on in perpetuity. Yet, within the narrative, Batman is very much fallible, and has already died once, with Dick Grayson taking up the mantle in his absence. Bruce Wayne may not be eternal, but the legacy he leaves behind will be, be it the good he does for the city or the crimefighters he raises, trains, and/or inspires. Of course, Batman’s not the only one in this title with a legacy.
Drew: Happy belated Fathers’ Day, everyone! I know I’m close to a week late, but hey, it’s not like your my dad, right? Okay, I may have missed the moment there, but Batman Eternal 11 actually hits a bit closer to the mark, landing only four days after the actual holiday. Still seem a little late? Consider how non-topical other comics tend to be. It makes sense; a six-issue arc may span a matter of days of narrative time, but would cover six months in real time — how do you sync that up to fixed holidays? It’s still done from time to time, but it’s usually relegated to one-off anthologies, or even commemorating events a few months after the fact. There are a few notable exceptions, which manage the feat largely by synching their narrative rate to their release schedule, like The Long Halloween or 52, two series to which Batman Eternal obviously owes a great debt. The weekly format truly gives the writers an opportunity to line events up on the calendar, giving us just a bit more to relate to in the pages. Far from hackneyed or forced, this issue reveals one of the primary perks of such a large ensemble cast: it’s easy to find occasion-appropriate themes when so many plates are spinning at once. Continue reading
Today, Shelby leads a discussion on Batman Eternal 10, originally released June 11th, 2014.
Shelby: I have some friends who are legitimate circus performers, one a pole dancer and the other a trapeze artist, and so I naturally have attended a cabaret-style circus performance held in an old warehouse. It was exactly as awesome as it sounds, with acrobats of every flavor, a hoop dancer, clowns, and a juggler. This guy was incredible, he used a rainbow array of balls that lit up, and they shut off all the lights in the place so all we could see were the glowing orbs and the trails they left behind. Comic books aren’t totally dissimilar; we don’t see the creators specifically, just the art they leave for us. Also, sometimes it feels like a team is juggling waaaaaaay too many ideas, and it’s only a matter of time before things fall apart. Continue reading
Spencer: Last time I wrote about Batman Eternal I praised how quickly the plot seemed to be coming together, but in the five issues since, things have slowed down dramatically. The end of issue three saw the genesis of a brutal gang war that threatened to rock Batman’s city down to its core, but the resulting conflicts haven’t looked all that more dangerous than any typical Gotham evening. There’s a lot of fun stuff going on in Batman Eternal 8, but these pacing issues sap much of the tension from the developments, leaving a final product that’s not quite as awesome as it should be. Continue reading
Drew: Why does society seem to place a premium on auteurism? The vast majority of artforms are highly collaborative, yet we still talk about directors, show-runners, composers, and other creators as if theirs is the only intent that matters. Aside from a few notable exceptions, comics have always been a collaborative medium, but there’s something palpably different about a written-by-committee series like Batman Eternal. Indeed, it seems to have more in common with the conveyer-belt system of network tv than the short-season, tightly controlled cable model, but is that a bad thing?