Eternal Batman Eternal #1: Got Pyg?

Today sees the start of Batman Eternal, a year-long, weekly sixty-issue storyline from DC Comics which’ll be entering some unexpected corners of Gotham, bringing back fan-favourite characters, killing off probably a few other ones, and generally getting really into the whole ‘brooding on gargoyles’ thing that made Batman so popular

So for as long as they do issues of Batman Eternal, I’m going to be recapping them. What follows after the jump are full recaps, with spoilers. These aren’t reviews! These are recaps. I can say what I want, and you’re not allowed to say “well he isn’t talking about the art….” because RECAP.

Recaps give me complete immunity over anything you may say. They’re my new fave.

Let’s get straight into things. Issue #1 is out today, and here are the cover and solicitation. Following the cover, SPOILERS WILL BE HAPPENING. Enjoy!

Don’t dare miss the start of the Bat-story so big it’s going to take every week of the month to tell! A massive cast of Gotham City’s best (and worst) examines the relationship between Batman, his allies and his city. In this debut issue, Commissioner James Gordon is caught on the wrong side of the law!

Things start off at the end, in true serialised comic fashion, with Gotham on fire. And when I say it’s on fire, I mean everything is on fire here – somehow the river is burning, and I don’t know how that has happened. But amidst all the flames stands a tall building, one which looks a bit like a giant wedding ring wearing a hat, and on top of it is Bruce Wayne. He’s been tied to the Bat-signal, which has been smashed, and somebody’s carved a bat-symbol onto his bare chest.

Which – painful, but you have to admire the artistry there. It’s a good thing Bruce is ripped, because there wouldn’t have been space to carve that logo onto anything but the noblest of pecs. To cap everything off for him, he’s being taunted by an unseen villain, who knows his name and is having a right long boast about all the things he’s done. Oh, if only we hadn’t started at the end! If only we could go right back to the start, and see those victories in real-time!

Cut to, well, the present day. We’re back at Gotham, which is now far less ‘on fire’ than it was before, and even has a couple of blimps floating around for good measure. Why did society ever move away from blimps? Was it because they’re highly flamma-hm. Somebody is waxing lyrical about the wonders of Gotham City, which is your first clue to the fact that Scott Snyder is involved in the script for the issue. It turns out to be a new guy, who looks like Commissioner Gordon but without the moustache.

In fact, you could say he looks a bit like Ben McKenzie….

So Ben is getting off the train into Gotham, three or four bags under his arms. He’s moving here to join the police beat. After getting off and walking to the street, we see that, hilariously, Harvey Bullock has been stood in the station the whole time, watching him. He saunters over now he doesn’t have to carry any of the bags further – classic Harvey! He introduces himself to Ben and gives him a wry smile. He’s going to show him the ropes.

Because as we find out next, Gordon’s a little bit busy being attacked by Professor Pyg. They’re in an airplane museum, where Gordon has rescued a group of scared kids and is now trying to fight off some robot pigs. He shoots one and blows it up, although sadly the editor didn’t request that the robots make a squealing noise as they explode. Missed opportunity, that. Gordon’s tactic here is to stall for time – with the kids as terrified bait, essentially – whilst they all wait for Batman to show up.

Gordon is also wielding a phenomenally huge pistol here, the sort you usually see in westerns. Pyg himself – or should I call him Professor? I don’t remember if he’s formally accredited – has taken over one of the planes himself, and build a gattling-gun style weapon which, instead of a bandoleer, is instead feeding green syringes into the chamber. That’s impractical but amazing.

He’s banging on about all kinds of stuff, and of course it sounds kinda gross and sexual, because that’s what Pyg does. It’s weird how DC haven’t courted Greg Land to draw a Pyg story yet, actually. Anyway, he’s flying around, firing syringes at children, gleefully squealing about all sorts of creepy things, and it’s like Grant Morrison never went away. Gordon shouts some more at Batman, who FINALLY decides to show up, having stopped off for a costume change beforehand.

His full metal jacket armour, the one that seems like an Iron Man prototype. He flies out of nowhere and PUNCHES THE PLANE in the tail, sending it crashing into the ground…. I hope far away from the kids? And he then starts beating up the robot pigs a bit, exploding them all while Pyg makes his escape. Stepping out of the metal suit of invulnerability, he asks how the kids are doing – Gordon replies that they’re fine. Oh sure they are, Commissioner. They’ve been gassed with weird toxins by a man in a pink apron, but they’ll probably be fine.

Furthering the suggestion that maybe he’s been beaten up by Two-Face one too many times, Gordon then races off with Batman to take down Pyg – abandoning the kids he just rescued! Welcome to Gotham, children. Learn this lesson about police authority.

They’re chasing Pyg and three other guys, two of whom are wearing gas-masks – and the third is Grant Morrison, with a rose tattooed on his right temple. Hey, I guess he didn’t ever go away, after all! Gordon heads off after Grant, whilst Batman goes after the others. Batman quickly ties up his side of the deal, thankfully smacking Pyg in the head before the guy can start telling us about “the glaze”. He asks for a sit-rep on Gordon from “Penny-One”, which turns out to be Alfred.

WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT THE MONITORS NEXT TO HIM, Alfred gives him all the information. That’s how good Alfred is at this stuff nowadays, you guys. He can predict everything that happens in Gotham at all times. Batman heads off towards Gordon’s location, which is in the subway station.

We cut away from all this, though, for some time at Gotham station. Maggie Sawyer is there, wearing her ever-present bulletproof vest. I don’t know if it was ever explained why she always seems to be wearing a bulletproof vest, but ever since Gotham Central she’s had one strapped on. I suppose this may be why she is one of only a handful of cops to have ever been given a surname and lived to the end of the story. Ben is being shown around the precinct by Harvey Bullock, which mostly means stopping to chat with the first corrupt cop they can find – Major Forbes – and hearing him basically offer a straight-up bribe to Ben.

Immediately. This is maybe the fourth thing he says to Ben after meeting him. “Hey! How are you? I beat up innocent civilians for fun! Fancy a bribe?”

He may be my favourite character.

The police all head off in Gordon’s direction, unaware of all the drugged-up urchins who’re wandering the air museum right now.

Gordon, for his part, has caught up with Grant Morrison, and tells him to drop his gun. Grant says that he doesn’t have a gun, so Gordon decides to test out this theory by shooting the gun out his hands. Only the bullet passes straight through where the gun was meant to be, and smashes instead into the powered-down electrical box behind Grant. Which turns out to be actually powered-up! And explodes. Bye, Grant.

This leads Gordon to realise that somebody is messing with the subway lines, and has sent two trains heading towards each other. He stands in the middle of the tracks and watches as they two trains head towards him – only to be nicked out of the air by Batman, who lands on the ground with Gordon just as the rest of the police arrive.

The two trains crash. Everybody is thrown to the ground.

Gordon is babbling to himself at this point, confused at how he just shot a make-believe gun and blew up a powered-down electric box, thus causing two trains to crash into one another. I know Gordon – I’m right with you on that one. Batman offers to stand by his side, but Gordon pushes him away, deciding that perhaps having a wanted vigilante (is Batman still wanted as a fugitive? It’s hard to know what’s been going on in Justice League) as a character witness may not offer him the ‘best’ support. Bullock, Sawyer, Forbes and Ben McKenzie all walk over, and Forbes – hearing Gordon’s explanation of what just happened – demands that the commissioner be immediately arrested.

Bit harsh, but still. There’s a big smile all over Forbes’ face as he gets Ben to arrest Gordon, and march him off to the police station. Batman, standing in the wreckage of the two trains which nobody has bothered to yet check for survivors, watches on. And you know what? I bet those kids at the airplane museum are probably trashing the place right now.

We cut back to the beaten, tied up, rippling pec muscles Bruce for the final panel, in which the unseen enemy taunts him. “Can’t you see it now, Bruce? Can’t you see the Grand Design?”

Which suggests to me that what we’re dealing with here is a vengeful Kevin McCloud. Or! One of Batman’s supervillains, perhaps. I guess we’re going to have to wait a WHOLE WEEK to find out what’s going on!

Issue #1 of Batman Eternal is by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Nick J. Napolitano, Katie Kubert and Mark Doyle. The other consulting writers for the series are Ray Fawkes, John Layman, and Tim Seeley.

Was the colourist credited on the cover? No

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