The city's in flames, some villains are tamed, but one makes a claim, and is that C-lister to blame? DC's weekly Batman affair is coming to a conclusion, but where is the great mastermind to this master crime? Damn it, writers, stop faking out the readers with these non-revelations so late in the game! But it's a little easier to forgive the issue because when Batman hits his rogues again, he isn't fucking around. But unfortunately all this action is dulling his endurance, and by the time he arrives in Beacon Tower, even a worthless loser can take advantage. But can the man with the name of the 16th US President and third month of the year appear before the audience loses interest? Well, he'd damn well better, the owl bastard.
Well, first of all, I'm sort of two minds on Batman's heroic marathon of ass-kicking in this issue, carving a swath through a gauntlet of enemies. It's amusing to me that it begins with Bane, because in Knightfall, my favorite multi-part Batman epic, Bane was the end of a long series of confrontations that the new (at the time) villain had his hand in by breaking the crazies out of Arkham. It was after taking on Mad Hatter, Mr. Zsaz, Cornelius Stirk, Killer Croc, Firefly, Scarecrow, Two-Face, Joker, and Bane's minions, that Batman was so worn down, Bane really didn't even need his Venom drug to break Batman (he used it anyway, because why not?). This time, Bane is just the first, and Batman shows his stuff by taking down Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, and Clayface (Babs handled JD herself, natch). It was pretty impressive.
"Except that one time you crippled me for months. Oh, and when my son was horribly butchered. And then there was the time..."
And yet... well, we've seen him do this in this series already, back when they were hiding out in Willowood Orphanage, where... OH SHIT... uh, nevermind I'll get to it. My point is, seeing Batman giving these villains a one-two punch yet again kind of takes something away from the Bat family. Not that I expected Jason Todd to defeat Bane on his own or Harper beat Freeze, but it'd have been nice to see them actually, you know, have to team up to take down these opponents. If Batman Eternal is a celebration of all that is Batman, we can't keep showing Batman as this one-man operation when his supporters play such a big role in the story.
"Tastes like chicken."
But hey, at least Babs took down that horrible Joker's Daughter solo. Maybe the writers have become aware just how hated that villain is. And while I don't normally care much about Babs (at least compared to MY Batgirl, Cassie), it was a very satisfying panel.
No, because she wasn't the real Joker.
Now, that you'd have a problem with!
Also pretty satisfying is seeing the main players in the Gotham City Police Department all together and ready to do what they can. Despite the betrayal and back-room dealings of Jason Bard, it seems that Jim Gordon is ready to let him redeem himself and let him be part of the effort that includes Harvey and Maggie. It's hard not to still be livid at the character of Jason Bard, but it makes sense that Gordon would still see him as a valuable asset, and be willing to work with him to take back Gotham. It shows how much the bigger man Jim is.
"Still better than Detroit." - Jason Bard
Speaking of being "the big man", either the writers think the fans are desperately stupid, the fans really are desperately stupid, or the writers themselves have screwed the pooch, because it makes zero sense that Arthur Brown, the Cluemaster, is the big mastermind behind all that's gone on in this book, the big baddie who is behind it all. The general theme of Eternal has been "the forgotten and the ignored", whether it's Cluemaster and his C-listers being underestimated by Batman and his group, Leo Calbrese being pushed into obscure history, Deacon Blackfire's revival, Alfred's long-lost daughter appearing, or Bard's dead partner, there's been a sense of anger by those whose suffering or even existence has been forgotten or ignored in time. And Arthur is a great big part of that in the story, don't get me wrong.
"The ones that don't lead to me whatsoever."
But let's look at the pieces of the puzzle here, folks. A take down of all that Batman is by a villain who obviously knows his secret identity. Stripping Batman of his reputation, Bruce Wayne of his house and holdings, isolating him from the police and turning them against him, bringing past enemies to the forefront whether they be Falcone or Brown. Who, from Willowood Orphanage, waited, watching the Batman all this time? Who saw Bruce Wayne use the things life had given him and built what he did, and felt cheated and ignored? Who felt he was being robbed of his identity, his inheritence, vowing to strip it away from Bruce?
Do I really have to spell it out for you? Because it's the person that met with Arthur Brown and his group, the man who knocked Stephanie out, who she later saw meet with her father and identified as Bruce Wayne. Who Riddler identified as "You Are Echo" ("You're Echo" = "Your Echo"). Look at the bird in the tree from the Batsgiving poster (google "Batsgiving"). What is that bird? There's only one person it can be for those clues to mean something.
If it's Cluemaster, then the writers had to have changed the story because too many people guessed it. Why would he have somebody disguise themselves as Bruce Wayne to meet him in secret? To fool himself? And don't say, "It's Hush, Hush got a surgery to look like Bruce", because that's not true in the New 52 continuity.
It's the one man who Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo used as their ultimate villain in their first story arc in this continuity: Lincoln March. And if it isn't him, there'd better be one hell of a good explanation why it isn't, because otherwise, this entire series was pointless.
Next Issue: Master of the Game
- Penguin Truth
Story: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Script: James Tynion IV
Consulting Writers: Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins, & Tim Seeley
Pencils: Alvaro Martinez
Inks: Raul Fernandez
Colors: June Chung
Lettering: Tom Napolitano
Cover By: Dave Wielgosz
Editor: Chris Conroy
Asst. Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Group Editor: Mark Doyle
Batman Created By Bob K--AHAHAHAHA, NO. Batman Created By Bill Finger
And then Scarecrow became Shitcrow, scaring away birds with his soiled pants.