Story: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV.
WRITER(S): James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley, Scott Snyder & Kyle Higgins.
Artist(S): Jason Fabok, Dustin Nguyen, Mikel Janin, Guillem March, Ian Bertram, Riccardo Burchielli, Andy Clarke, Trevor McCarthy, Emanuel Simeoni, Derek Fridolfs & Guillermo Ortego.
Colourist(s): Brad Anderson, John Kalisz, Blond, Jeromy Cox, Tomeu Morey, Guy Major, Dave McCaig & Dave Stewart.
Letterer: Taylor Esposito, Rob LEigh, Nick J. Napolitano, Steve Wands, Dezi Sienty & Carlos M. Mangual.
PUBLISHER: DC COMICS.
RELEASE DATE: December 2014.
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆.
Populated with criminals at every street corner, Gotham is set upon a rotten foundation where even its history is nothing more than lies piled together and conspiracies melted in corruption and collusion. Despite the very nature of this environment that breeds evil, there are individuals within it that try everything within their power to make it a livable space, a place where families can see bright futures and not fear for their life. In vain, its criminality pollutes the air and it is in the hands of heroes that lies the last means for justice. As part of Batman’s 75th-anniversary celebration, a year-long weekly limited series was launched with Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV at the head of the project. Assisted with countless other notable writers and artists, they begin an enormous story-arc that will breathe life (or death) into Gotham.
What is Batman Eternal (Vol. 1) about? Collecting the first 21 issues of the series, the story is set around the Forever Evil story-arc and intersects with the Zero Year event during DC’s New 52 era. Jumping straight into the action, the story places Commissioner James Gordon in a sticky situation against Professor Pyg before Batman arrives to lend a helping hand. As they split up, Gordon ends up triggering a chain of events that will have devastating consequences and ultimately places him under arrest. Driven by a desire to prove his innocence, Batman sets out to unravel this mystery that will shock the Gotham City Police Department to the very core, shocked to the point of changing their stance on vigilantism and becoming a hindrance for caped heroes. But the obstacles do not end there as the legendary mobster Carmine Falcone returns to take back Gotham.
So much goes on in this one and somehow it doesn’t even feel overwhelming. The premise sets up a fantastic story but it doesn’t stick to it necessarily. You’d imagine that the story would just lose its focus and overload the reader with too much world-building but every chapter feels like an episode that simply adds to the city’s own criminal ecosystem. Every chapter thus presents a different sub-plot with various characters and ideas to be explored in the long-term and allows it to grow without any true frontiers. While it does leave a lot of loose threads unanswered, the pacing makes it easy to follow and incite intrigue in the reader. From Batman Incorporated to newly-introduced heroes, this series does a fantastic job of seamlessly tying together multiple elements from the New 52 universe to forge this self-contained story. The authors also set out to focus on a different aspect of Batman’s character and the stories that are usually characteristic of his adventures, whether it’s a mystery thriller or an action-packed adventure.
The artwork is where the most fault can be identified. This is very inevitable due to the way each issue is published (having a weekly release will force your hand into contracting multiple creative teams) but knowing this beforehand immensely helps in appreciating the story for what it offers. The different styles are quite interesting in general although it sometimes dips to all-time lows with artistic visions that don’t necessarily mesh well with Batman’s character. Certain artists tried to capture the obscure magic element, others the horror hidden within the city, others the noir detective style, but what they ultimately offer are insightful interpretations of Batman’s lore. These styles never necessarily look to fit together but commemorate the character in his natural habit, while also looking into his bond with various heroes like James Gordon.
Batman Eternal (Vol. 1) is a unique story allowing Gotham to become a character of its own as villains, heroes, and ideas stunningly interact together.