By Cat Wyatt
Issue number 39 of Batman kicks off a new plot arc, and Wonder Woman fans will be pleased to see she is included (as is made obvious by the cover of this issue). I’ll confess that I didn’t think much of the title when I first saw it, the Secret of the Eternal Vow, but having fully read the issue I realize it carries a lot more weight than I would have originally assumed. I’m anxious to see the next issue, as not only do I want to see the conclusion, but I want to see the repercussions to said vow.
Any issue that starts off with Gordon is a good issue in my book, and in this case the intro was pretty spectacular. We tune in to see Gordon on the phone (with Barbara, of course), only to notice that the bat signal has been turned on. I’m sure most of us are aware by now just how strict Gordon is about turning that damn light on (they can’t really afford any false alarms here). Concern turns to amusement as it’s revealed that Wonder Woman had turned it on; even though she has a direct communication link to Batman, apparently she preferred to play with the lights. In all fairness, I would totally have done the same thing in her shoes (how cool would that be?). I think this is probably the first time I’ve seen Gordon so…nonplussed. Needless to say that added to the hilarity as well, as did the broken sentences and general confused element to his conversation with Wonder Woman (at least he didn’t ask for her autograph).
Alright, moving on from that hilarious scene; time to get into the reason Wonder Woman needed to reach out to Batman in the first place. Apparently a very long time ago (okay, I added the very long time bit) the two of them made a promise to somebody called the Gentle Man (I’m sure you can recall who he is, if not; he’s the hero that protects us from the Hordes of the Gehenna, an eternal enemy that’s seemingly endless in its ranks), and he’s decided now is the time to call that favor in.
It’s probably pretty obvious what that favor is; in exchange for giving him a break in his duty, he and Wonder Woman are going to step up and take him place temporarily. Seems pretty simple, but if you’re anything like Selena Kyle you’re probably wondering why Batman instead of Superman. Apparently superpowers work in unpredictable ways in that realm, and thus it’s more important to be a skilled fighter than to be superhuman. In this case that means that Batman and Wonder Woman are two of the best equipped people to take the Gentle Man’s place.
Also, if you’re ever wanted to see what Batman would look like in a knight’s armor, you seriously need to pick up this issue and turn to page 9. Trust me, you won’t regret it. I can’t decide if he looks more dramatic having the armor in all black, or if he just looks ridiculous (in case you were wondering, Selena and Dana both agree on the latter being the case).
And thus our heroes take the place of the Gentle Man. I didn’t really notice any major discussion about the length of time or anything like that, which had me concerned. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but when entering a realm which you cannot open the portal to, wouldn’t it be best to be certain the guy is coming back? If the Gentle Man has been fighting for as long as we’ve been told, something must be up to make him suddenly want a break. Who’s to say that break wouldn’t be permanent? Admittedly I imagine paranoid Bruce Wayne also thought of this, which is why Selena is escorting the Gentle Man around town. I just hope other people were also informed of the circumstances, to ensure their return.
It turns out the length of time was a pretty important thing to discuss, as time is different between Earth and the other realm. I’m not sure if Batman and Wonder Woman were aware of this or not, but I get the impression the answer is no. Selena sure as hell wasn’t made aware of it beforehand. I’m very concerned about where things are going to lead, based on this turn of events.
This issue was pretty solid on the whole; they told the story they wanted to, without rushing to any point of it. There’s humor mixed in with the heavier nature that is the battle Gentle Man is permanently locked in, as well as some drama and other concerns. I don’t know where things are going to lead from here, but I personally consider that a good thing. Predictable comics are not nearly as much fun.
The artwork for this issue was pretty fantastic. There are plenty of details, dramatic poses, and close ups to go around. The cover was a bit more stylized, with softer colors diffusing the background. And of course there’s the image I already talked about; Batman in full armor. The details are pretty spectacular, and worth checking out when you have a moment.
Publisher: DC Comics