Monday, 13 July 2015

Batman Eternal, Volume 2 Review (Kyle Higgins, Jason Fabok)

I usually try to summarise a book’s story at the top of a review but there isn’t really a plot to Batman Eternal, DC’s weekly Batman series, just a lot of little storylines playing out. I suppose the main bad guy is Hush doing what he always does - “I wanna be Bruce Wayne, waaah!”. Put a sock in it, Tommy!

This second volume is a lot shorter than the first, collecting issues #22-34 (13 issues) compared to the first 21 issues in Volume 1. Also, while Scott Snyder’s name is on the cover, he didn’t write this comic - he plotted it, along with James Tynion IV. The actual writers are Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley, and Kyle Higgins - very much the B-team of DC’s writers.

So: Hush, aka Tommy Elliott. He’s back. Again. That’s either a good or bad thing depending on your feelings toward the character - for me it’s definitely bad as I think he’s the pits. He doesn’t really have a motivation besides he hates Bruce Wayne because he’s not Bruce Wayne and that’s it. It’s the worst. His character design’s just a rip-off of Unknown Soldier (bandage-face, guns) and we’re meant to believe he’s coordinating this massive, meandering plot about bringing down Wayne Enterprises or something vague? Boo!

And now we get into the many little story threads that make up the series as another of Batman’s worst rogues reappears: Deacon Blackfire (from the dreadful Batman: The Cult). Why is Joker’s Daughter trying to resurrect him beneath Arkham Asylum? No clue. Tyger Shark (from Batman: The Black Mirror) is shooting rare tigers because he’s a dick. The Architect, aka Zachary Gate (from Batman: The Gates of Gotham) makes a cameo. Killer Croc’s running some kind of underground orphanage(?!) and is looking for one of his lost kids. Catwoman’s given the task of uniting the disparate mobs of Gotham by a surprise figure from her past. Martial law is declared in Gotham on the flimsiest of reasons. Gordon’s still in jail. Stephanie Brown’s calling herself The Spoiler and is still dodging her dad, Cluemaster, who’s trying to kill her. Poor Alfred’s been injected with a massive amount of fear toxin into his brain so his daughter, Julia, has stepped in to be Batman’s tech support.

It’s just a jumble of bad Batman sub-plots, most of which are boring and which don’t add up to much. One big thing happens that changes the landscape of the city and leads to the Arkham Manor spinoff series, but that’s it.

Vicki Vale is written poorly as a brain-dead journo who’ll write-up whatever anyone throws at her, and, continuing DC’s recent trend in sexifying up its older/uglier characters (Deathstroke is now in his 20s, Lobo now looks like a male model), Dr Leslie Thompkins has gone from being the elderly doctor who looked after young Bruce to a more youthful woman.

Alfred’s storyline is underwritten with him appearing somewhere bizarre without explanation and then his “fatal” condition is suddenly not an issue when the writers need him to be functional.

A lot of scenes are characters doing what they always do, ie. drearily fighting one another, while actual exciting scenes like Batman saving a plane from crashing are done off-page! Gotham’s been in worse shape - Zero Year for example - and the government haven’t stepped in until the last minute but they appear now after a load of minor events happen?

The art is mostly very good with standout artists being RM Guera (holla at Scalped!), Jason Fabok, Dustin Nguyen, and Andy Clarke, but there are a couple dozen artists who contributed to this volume and produced lots of awesome-looking pages.

While the book looks great, the writing is extremely sub-standard and the plotting is all over the shop. Out of this many storylines, the only one I kind of cared about was Stephanie Brown’s but unfortunately she doesn’t get many pages. The rest of Batman Eternal, Volume 2 is a tedious slog. What a disappointing experiment this turned out to be!

Batman Eternal, Volume 2

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