Batman Eternal (Vol. 1) by Scott Snyder

details
TITLE: Batman.
Volume: 1.
Story-Arc: Eternal.
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.

FORMAT: Paperback.
RELEASE DATE: December 2014.
PAGES: 480.
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
ISBN13: 9781401251734.

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

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.


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25 comments

  • Well well well I see that it packed a lot but kept you intrigued all along! And you say the art is the weak point but I quite don’t see this on the pages you showed here 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  • Huh, color me intrigued 😉

    Insightful review, Lashaan, I’m especially fond of that little catch at the beginning – “Assisted with countless other notable writers and artists, they begin an enormous story-arc that will breathe life (or death) into Gotham.” Yes indeed, which will it be? – this is the question! 🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear your interest, Ola! I’m sure you’ll quickly notice how HUGE and INSANE the story will get but this ambitious project remained fun for what it is. The number of characters included, the twists, the different writers/artists aboard, it just makes for a nice little Gotham/Batman universe that’s not restrained by anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, can’t believe it’s over five years since this series came out! I remember buying and reading the digital issues weekly and to be honest, I found it a little bit of a slog – I think the main thing for me was the wild inconsistency with the art, especially with the strong start with Jason Fabok (seem to recall he did the first three issues, I think). I think reading it collected would drive me mad in this respect haha. The story started off well enough to be fair but trailed off later on…but maybe the issue with the art was so distracting and it overrode my overall opinion – probably why I didn’t follow the sequel series (Batman & Robin Eternal?).

    Great write-up Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I had started to get into comics in the middle of the second volume myself and I badly wanted to collect the individual issues but I restrained myself since I was already collecting the expensive Snyder Batman run as individual issue hahaha I can definitely understand your issues with this series though. It would have been fun to have this same story drawn by the same person (Fabok preferably, right? Hahahah). And yes, Batman & Robin Eternal is the sequel to the 3 volume Batman Eternal run. I haven’t heard much about that one and just assumed that it was an “okay” series and nothing more. To be seen hahaha Thanks for reading, Chris! As always, I appreciate it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Funny that you mention her. She has a sub-plot within this story too. She’s not that used in other Batman-related stories and I always just thought that it was because Vale was overshadowed by Lois Lane in general. Including Vale simply didn’t have the same weight in a story as Lois Lane does in a Superman story hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      • I brought her up because the last time I remember her being around was way back in Batman movies from the 80’s/90’s. While I haven’t a lot of Batman comics, I never remember her being in any of them…

        Liked by 1 person

  • Not really the kind of book I’d see out, but it does sound very interesting for fans of this world and its characters. I did cringe when you said an original weekly publishing schedule. I’ve always seen things like that as a money grab, but I guess it could also be just to get the entire story out in a more reasonable time frame. It’s quite a monster, 21 issues and 480 pages, wow! I also had to laugh when you said the artwork was where the most fault could be identified because my first reaction before reading the entire post was: Cool cover! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The very short window to work on an issue before publication is indeed scary today. I personally believe that they should take the time needed for a issue but I guess business is business and nothing will stop the industry from not making more in shorter time frames…

      Hahaha it is a cool cover and it has some spectacular artwork in it but some artists don’t get it right at all sometimes and that can be quite off-putting. Thanks for reading, Todd! I appreciate it a lot. 🙂

      Like

  • I remember this series being very good. Bought the three trades later because by the time I realized this was a weekly, it was already half-way done, but it starts off as fairly compelling and just gets crazier in volumes 2 and 3. Satisfying conclusion as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Alright, I’m intrigued. The nature of Batman’s relationship with Gotham PD is always fascinating, especially his bond with Commissioner Gordon. It’s a shame about the artwork but understandable given the publishing schedule and the various interpretations of the Batman universe is quite interesting to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. It focuses a bit more on Gordon and Batman because of the peculiar situation. Gordon represents hope in this city and Batman knows that if the city turns against him, his chances of saving Gotham get closer to zero than ever before. Thanks for reading, Lois! I appreciate it. 🙂

      Like

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