Eternal Batman Eternal #4: Gordon in the Dock

When last we left our heroes, Stephanie Brown had a bit of trouble with her pop whilst Gotham Police put out a hit on Batman. Catwoman vanished, Falcone plotted, and Maggie Sawyer wore her bulletproof vest. Batman wandered around in a strop, like Morrissey but without the gladioli. Oh, and James Gordon? He’s in jail. You blow up ONE set of trains and suddenly years of being punctual and filing all your papers on-time count for nothing!

It’s time again for

Eternal Batman Eternal 
Issue #4

This week we start with Batgirl, who is busy cry-fighting her way through a pack of random goons. She’s taking a bit of a hit over the whole “your dad destroyed the subway” thing, and so now she’s giving that hit back in kind to anybody who gets in her way. In this case, it’s a group of Professor Pyg’s minions, who sadly also don’t make squealing noises when they get punched in the face. Stick to the gimmick, you guys! I can’t think of anything which disappoints me more than minions who don’t get in-character.

One of the minions, it should be noted, appears to be a human salamander. Batgirl appears to be wiping her shoe on his face. She’s annoyed because, we find out, today marked the first court hearing of her dad, James Gordon. We see him stood up in the dock, emotionless, as the Judge tells him off and says this was all his fault. Which is, uh, I suppose one way of starting a trial, I guess? Seems a little unfair to Gordon to start off by telling everybody that he’s definitely guilty, but still.

One hundred and sixty-two people died in the train crash, it turns out, causing billions of dollars-worth of damage. Also, this was “a major disruption to the lives of every citizen in Gotham”. Oh yeah, you just KNOW that this judge was meant to be heading to his daughter’s school recital but missed it because the trains were delayed, right? You can tell she got so annoyed that she drew a picture of daddy on fire and slipped it under his bedroom door later that night. She’s going to carry that mental scar with her for the next forty years. Good going, Gordon.

Whilst the Judge is getting out all his repressed anger, there’s someone stood in the doorway of the courtroom, in shadow, just chilling, and I like to imagine it’s Two-Face. God, wouldn’t it have been amazing if Gordon had hired Two-Face to be his lawyer? Missed opportunities. If this were Marvel, YOU BET that the lawyer would be Matt Murdock or Jennifer Walters.

Anyway, the Judge denies Gordon bail and calls him a flight risk due to his tendency to work with vigilantes. Fair enough. Whilst they wait for trial, he is to be held in Blackgate Prison. Uh-oh.

Batgirl stands up and starts yelling about how “he didn’t do it”, causing the judge to say that she’s close to contempt of court. Oh, please, judge! You’re just jealous that your daughter doesn’t love you like she loves hers. I bet you’ve got a whole drawer filled with crayon drawings of “daddy on fire”, right? Don’t you blame your poor timekeeping on Gordon. For his part, though, Gordon seems to have fully accepted the fact that he is to blame for all of this, and he asks her to sit down and leave him to his public corrupted court hearing.

She refuses to accept this, hence the minion-beating she’s been delivering. Batman arrives on the scene just as she bashes in the last of the henchmen, and tells her to stop this. He says that she “can’t do this”, although I’d argue the semantics of that one. She tries to walk off but he grabs her shoulder, so she spins round and smacks him round the head. Twice! On the third attempt, he catches her. She composes herself somewhat.

Batman starts to tell her that she’s using excessive force, but she catches that softball and throws it straight back at him. Pot kettle black, Batman. You didn’t exactly train her to defeat villains using the power of verbal reasoning. Batgirl calls this “justice”, not least for the fashion industry. Seriously, guys, you’re working for a man called Professor Pyg. Put on a BIT more of an effort than just a pig mask yeah?

Batgirl recounts the hearing, and how pleased Major Forbes was by all of this. Sorry – that’s Commissioner Forbes now. She thinks that Gordon’s starting to question his own sanity, and is starting to snap – hey, then send him over to Arkham Asylum! It’s not like they don’t have whole wings devoted to people who’ve gone a little wonky. There’s great room for career advancement too, cos I’m pretty sure half the inpatients eventually rise up the career ladder to become warden.

We leave the Batman/Batgirl scene – making this the second issue in a row to have a lying cover – and back to Stephanie, who’s got on the phone to her mum. She’s panicking about how her dad, y’know, is a villain and just tried to kill her. We cut across to her mother, whose house has the MOST distracting lamp I’ve ever seen. She’s got paintings of the wall which are just of black squares, there’s a table which lies on the floor and seems to be maybe three inches tall….

I’m calling it now. Any woman with such horrible taste in furnishings is 100% going to be a part of this supervillain conspiracy too.

She asks Stephanie where she is, and Stephanie says she’s at a pay phone – she’s already decided not to use her mobile phone, as her dad might be able to track her. She doesn’t trust the police as they’re a part of this, she’s turned her phone off, and she’s about to start fashioning a tin foil hat she can wear so nobody can beam psychic messages into her head.

Actually, given what happened to Gordon, that might be a smart idea. She puts the phone down, at which point she immediately calls up Cluemaster and gives Stephanie’s location up. TOLD YOU

Back at the GCPD, where Forbes is checking in on how Bard is doing. It’s a mega-boring scene, where the characters just go on repeating all the stuff we already know. Bard asks again if he can please go stop some crimes, but his request is denied – he’s on Batman-catching duty first and foremost.

And of course that leads to a scene of Batman crashing through a window – Falcone’s penthouse windown – and knocking out all the guards there. You know, I wonder what Batman would do if somebody built an apartment which didn’t have a huge window he could jump through. Do you think he’d just let that villain do whatever they wanted? If I were in Gotham, you bet I’d live in a bungalow. The lack of dramatic entrances would do more to stop Batman than a thousand deathtraps.

One of the sound effects in this scene, it should be pointed out, comes as Batman kicks someone in the nads. WHAPOW! Amazing.

Falcone interrupts and fires a few shots into the ceiling. Well Batman already wrecked the window, so may as well start firing bullets into it too. He’s finally changed out of that awful rose shirt and popped on a bow tie and suit. THAT’S MORE LIKE IT FALCONE. Spiffy stuff.  He starts chatting with Batman, mostly about the uselessness of hirelings in Gotham nowadays. Right, Falcone? It’s like these guys aren’t even trying anymore. Time used to be that Penguins’s henchmen had to pretend they were actual penguins, but nowadays they barely even take the time to carry umbrella guns. It’s a damned shame.

Asked about why he’s returned to Gotham, Falcone strokes his claw-scars and says he has “unfinished business”, and also isn’t too keen on the fact that Gotham’s been overrun with manic, silly villains, rather than dignified suit-wearing mobsters. On that note, he basically orders Batman to go and take out Penguin for him, which is the point at which I’ve started actively rooting for Falcone as the hero of this series. All it takes is one bow-tie and I’m anybodys.

Rather than follow that order through, though, Batman heads back to the batcave – where he finds Batgirl is using his computers. He asks why she’s there, and why she’s in uniform. Bruce, your whole thing is that you work too hard because you’re upset about your parents, don’t start getting jealous now somebody else is stealing your schtick. He tells her to go rest, apparently unaware of the fact that she lives in a skip.

She’s actually been pretty productive, creating a hologram of the train incident and finding a suspicious-looking character who spent three hours stood at the station, prior to the crash. He’s even got a past criminal record! Good work Bar–

Nope. Batman doesn’t care. He tells her to give up on all of this. He says she’s not thinking clearly and that she doesn’t have enough evidence to support any of this, which at this point comes across as concern-trolling. This is far more evidence than Batman has ever collected before in his life, and yet he doesn’t want her to go out and pursue the lead. Weird, weird move, Bats. She storms off, as she should.

For our last scene, Gordon wanders into Blackgate. There he meets the totally fantastic Agatha Zorbatos, who has been the acting warden of the place since the new 52 started. She has a grudge against him and couldn’t be more delighted to find him in her custody. She sends him through to his cell, making sure he walks past the “people put in here by James Gordon” wing. Among the people who see him walk past is Ogilvy, who was put there during John Layman’s ‘Emperor Penguin’ storyline. That’s a nice touch.

There’s also someone called the Wrath in there, as well as Amygdala. Wow, but that it an incredibly left-field pull for a character to use in a story like this. Amygdala is so called because he has a damaged amygdala, the part of the brain which controls decision-making and emotional state. I think he also has super-strength? Maybe. Gordon finally reaches his cell, and gets to meet his new cell-mate.

I was fully expecting this to be the cliffhanger of the issue, but actually no, the cellmate is some random dude called Leo. He looks a bit like Maxie Zeus, but fifty years older. The issue ends with Gordon watching on as his cell door is closed and he’s locked in, and Leo tells him that he probably won’t last the night. Ominous stuff, Jimmy! I hear the trick is to establish dominance early on, or join a group. That may not be so true for a former police commissioner, however. Bad luck, boss.

Issue #4 of Batman Eternal is by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, John Layman, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, John Kalisz, Rob Leigh, Katie Kubert and Mark Doyle. The other consulting writers for the series are Ray Fawkes 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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