I have zero idea where Batman Eternal is supposed to sit. It seems like a decent enough Batman story (or possibly a decent enough Commissioner Gordon story?), but what’s so special about it that it deserves a) it’s own series and b) a weekly publishing schedule? I’m not opposed to having a metric shitload of Batman titles on the shelves every month. In fact, I would encourage it-- if they were different books. One reason the Fraction/Allred/Bagley FF and Fantastic Four books worked so well is that they were telling the same story in radically different ways. What DC hasn’t seemed to catch on to recently is that their Batman and Superman lines are all just the same books telling similar stories in similar ways. Homogeneity, my friends. A universal sameness.
Batman Eternal #1 is not a bad comic. It’s actually quite a bit of fun, placing Commissioner Gordon on the wrong side of a shootout, which is always interesting to watch. It’s a little light on Batman and a little heavy on clunky exposition, but it still shakes out okay. It won’t take you long to read, and it won’t feel like a waste. It just won’t give you anything about Batman that you haven’t really seen before.
I can’t say that I’ve picked up more than one or two titles from DC since the New 52 launched that haven’t looked exactly the same. It’s like they cloned David Finch a hundred times, changed their names and made them draw all the Superman and Batman books that aren’t digital-only. Superman and Batman are fun because you can use them to tell literally any kind of story. I mean, look at mid-60s Batman, for chrissakes. Instead of trying to take their characters to illogical extremes, trying to see what works and what doesn’t, DC sticks with stories that kind of work okay I guess, y’know? They’re not horrible, but they’re a little overly intricate for the sake of hitting plot beats and not really any emotional ones. I’m okay with a messier plot or offbeat art, if they’re in aid of beats that make me feel something about the characters. They just aren’t.
The writing and art in this issue are capable. I just don’t see where it’s going to go. It seems like a decent series of any kind, but what makes it that series that has to get published every week? Is it supposed to be the regular Batman timeline? I’ve seen on the Internet that it’s supposed to be the near future of Batman? I saw no indication that it was anything but the present. I have no chronological place to plant my feet, and it leaves me drifting. If they wanted to make another weekly event series just for Batman, again, I’m not opposed. I have fond memories of 52, alongside my far-from-fond memories of Countdown, so we have proof from the same company that a weekly can be done extremely well and extremely awfully. Where Batman Eternal ends up remains to be seen.
If you like what’s going on in the Batman universe at the moment, I’d say this is gonna be right up your alley. It’s more of the same in spades. If you’re not digging what Snyder & Co. are doing in Gotham, this isn’t going to give you any strong reason to change your mind. Possibly the definitive middle-of-the-road Batman comic.
Writers: Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder Artists: Jason Fabok Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 4/9/14