Eternal Batman Eternal #2: Kiss From A Rose

When last we met, Batman Eternal was just getting underway. Gotham burns in the coming future, Bruce Wayne gets lit up, and villains did some taunting. In the present, Batman and James Gordon had some fun playing tig with Pyg, which led to spilt trains and Gordon getting arrested. Ben McKenzie showed up, Grant Morrison blowed up, and Maggie Sawyer wore a vest. It was all going on! So here we lead our way down into the next part of:

Eternal Batman Eternal

Issue #2

A notorious Batman adversary appears for the first time in The New 52 continuity!

We start things off in Gotham City Hall this week, as Mayor of Gotham Sebastian Hady – sadly we’re not in a World where Nestor Carbonell is Mayor, so we’re denied the sight of the handsomest mascara this side of Metropolis. Hady’s reacting to the news that Gordon apparently threw a train at another train, and wonders if perhaps, as the mayor, he might be expected to say something about it. His aide, who doesn’t have a head, tells him that they’ll be penning him some remarks.

Hady walks off into the blankest-looking office I’ve ever seen (doesn’t he have any hobbies?) and grabs the only thing that’s grabbable – a bottle of scotch (maybe that’s his hobby!) As he pours himself a drink of neat Scotch before he heads off to give an important speech to the people, he wonders what’s gone wrong with Gotham to bring us all to this. Well, number one, we’ve got a Mayor who gets hammered before giving public speeches. That’s strike one. Strike two would be your inability to hire decent security, as seen by the entrance of a mysterious figure who wanders in through the balcony.

We head across to the scene of the train-crash, where Gordon is STILL being led away in chains even as the response team run in. How slow does that guy walk? Vicki Vale, our intrepid reporter and prior muse for Prince’s best era of songwriting, is gathering sources from her office. Her boss insists that she post the news now, as it’s already been confirmed, but she’s hesitant to do so. She doesn’t think Gordon would blow up some trains, which seems a fairly smart journalistic instinct.

But her boss tells her off a bit, and so she sighs and clicks to publish her story online. I’ve been there, Vicki! I still remember the desperate rush three years ago to post news about the new creative team for Heroes For Hire. Boy, those were dark days! Hope you remembered to work the word “Exclusive” into that title, or your SEO is going to be sucky.

As she posts the news, we find out that she’s been scooped by Batman, who has already transmitted the news to Batgirl. There’s a cute photo of her stood next to her dad on the wall, which is cool until the reveal two panels later that she’s apparently living in the back of a lorry, next to her bike. Housing prices MUST be low in Gotham. Surely they are! There’s no reason Babs couldn’t afford at least a small apartment in a city where every district comes with built-in bomb insurance.

The rest of the Batman franchise all find out about the news as it travels across the news, from Harper Row to Red Hood (who is in Hong Kong, amazingly) and Luke Fox – the current Batwing. Did the old Batwing die? I think he might’ve. That’s a shame. Even Batwoman is getting involved, as Batman contacts her haflway through a promising brooding session.

Red Robin (that’s what Tim Drake calls himself now, despite not being a Communist, to the best of my knowledge) phones up Alfred and asks him to book a plane ticket. He does this from a phone which he has repurposed so not even the Batcave can trace the location; and whilst fighting a load of robots which he apparently built himself. You can build functioning robots by yourself but can’t be bothered checking into Expedia? No wonder you’re everybody’s least favourite Robin, Tim.

In Gotham’s holding cells, Batman saunters in – Gordon even comments on the fact that the department don’t have anybody on guard, so make that strike #3 on Mayor Hady’s list – and Jim explains the plot of last week’s issue. He swears on the lives of his children that he didn’t mean to kill hundreds of people, which suggests he hasn’t been keeping up with recent issues of Batgirl. Batman takes a blood sample from Gordon, in an attempt to disprove some of the theories about the train crash which I saw on twitter last week. He then strolls off. Seriously, Hady – a little more funding to the police force would do you so much good.

We’re actually back with Hady next, as he talks to the mysterious figure on his GIANT balcony. The balcony is way bigger than his office is. There are two searchlights in the sky, presumably one shining the Bat-symbol and the other one shining up the latest football scores for civilians who don’t have cable. It turns out that the mysterious figure was one of a cabal of mysterious figures who rigged the election to get Hady in power, and has come to make several sinister implications about the future.

Hey, if I were a villain with a year-long scheme planned for Gotham, you BET I’d do exactly the same! I’d be posting ads in Variety with weird hints and clues snuck in them. The mysterious figure prunes a rose – somebody’s got to, Hady’s too busy drinking – and then crushes it in his hand, bleeding all over the place. This is unlikely to be Poison Ivy then.

Back at the train crash again, where bodies are starting to be pulled out of the wreckage and covered over. One of the rescue team appears to be taking a selfie next to the bodies, which seems in somewhat poor taste.

A guy dressed all in green seems to agree with me, as he wanders in – seriously, Hady, just a few extra dollars would really help your crime figures – and takes a look at the damage. An officer does, to her credit, ask the man to leave, but the guy turns round and hypnotises her into forgetting he’s there. Nice trick! Instead of getting her to act like a chicken or make out with one of the people next to her, the Green-Eyed Monster wanders off, muttering about evil. We see his shadow walking alongside him, which doesn’t look like it’s an ominous projection of Darth Vader. So that’s a relief.

In Arkham Asylum, two orderlies are looking over the notes and reviewing Doctor Phosphorus, who is busy pounding on the glass and shouting things at them which are probably hints about what’ll be happening in issue 30. He’s not currently on fire, but apparently this just means the fire is on the INSIDE, rather than the outside. Ew. I bet that cell smells awful. The orderlies note that they need to find a new way to give him medication, because he boils all his syringes. Then they wander off.

While they’re gone, a giant green ghost wanders in without being seen – HADY!!! – and floats over the Doc. The guy appears to be wearing a vicar’s collar, and his hands are all skeletal or stuff. He looks a bit like Kylie Minogue in Moulin Rouge, once she goes mental and evil.

You guys have all seen Moulin Rouge, right? Cracking film, that.

He touches the Doc on the forehead, causing the poor dude to explode in green energy and shout “BLACKFIRE”. Oh hey, I know what that means! There’s an old, forgotten Batman villain called Deacon Blackfire – looks like he’s wandered back in. Do you think that’s what the solicitation text right at the top was referring to? Have fans been clamouring for Deacon Blackfire to return? Probably on the CBR forums, at least.

Batman, meanwhile, has headed off to the Gotham MTA building – which is helpfully pointed out to be the Metropolitan Transit Authority – to review all the footage. He’s knocked out two security guards, which means at least Hady bothered to buy some in the first place. Good work, Hady. Somebody tries to sneak in on Bats, but the door creaks and gives them away – so he throws a batarang in an instant at whoever the trespasser is.

It’s Catwoman! Who says the exact same thing I was thinking at this point, and calls him a bit tense. To help ease things, she decides to continue making fun of him, because over the last fifty years we’ve all learned that Batman loves jokes at his expense. She starts trying to seduce him, and – wait, what the hell was Catwoman planning to do at the MTA building? Did she know Batman was there? Or does she have a secret trainspotting hobby nobody knew about before?

Batman’s meant to be stealthy! She can’t have been tracking him, he would’ve known. That’s sort of his thing, innit. So it stands to reason… she just like trains. Like… a lot.

Anyway, she starts trying to seduce him, because why not, may as well, and Jason Fabok draws Bruce with the MOST amazing grimace. It’s giving Judge Dredd for his money, and that’s saying something. Also, at this point she’s leaning on his chest, looking up at him – can she see up his mask from that angle? The thing pulls away from his face so he can breathe through his nose, and in these panels she’s looking RIGHT up the gap.

Realising Batman isn’t in the mood to get onboard her sex train, Catwoman reluctantly asks him what he’s up to – and of course, Batman’s up to something MEGA boring and dull, and goes off on a long technical tangent. What do you even see in this bloke, Selina? Eventually we get to his point, which is that he’s running a facial recognition scan on Grant Morrison, from last issue.

Back to Hady’s balcony, which now has FOUR MASSIVE TREES growing in it. Is it just me or is this garden actively expanding each time we see it? Tarzan will be swinging majestically through the canopy next issue, at this rate. The conversation between Hady and the mysterious man – who has three scars on his cheek, so we’ve now all realised who it is – continues apace. The Mystery Man says he wants to push all the maniacs out the city, and replace them with normal, regular, men. He tells Hady that he orchestrated the train crash, and that it’s just the beginning of his plan.

Meanwhile Batman is running off, with Catwoman trying to keep up with him. He’s in a strop – a bigger one – and is panicking about what the facial recognition scan told him. I know, mate! That’s the bloke who killed off your son last year! You’d better – oh wait no, that’s not what’s worrying him. Batman explains to Catwoman that Grant was actually working for someone else, someone much more frightening and dangerous.

Which is the point at which I make a joke about Dan Didio. BOOM!

Who is the mystery man? Well, it’s Carmine Falcone – the main character from The Long Halloween, apparently not-dead but alive and well, and dressed in a surprisingly sloppy-looking suit. You couldn’t afford anything better? I guess now we know where Hady’s money problems come from.

Falcone smirks on the balcony, Catwoman gasps at the idea that her possible dad is alive and back in town, and we’ll be back next week for more!

Issue #2 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. Batman was created by Bill Finger, and I won’t have another word said about it!

Was the colourist credited on the cover? No

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