Thursday, 24 April 2014

Eternal Batman Eternal #3: The Lady in Violet

When last we left our heroes, ghosts and hypnotists and gangsters had all arrived in Gotham to cause various damage. Batman was too busy hanging out with Catwoman at the train station, whilst Batgirl got on her bike. Gordon's in jail, the Mayor's in cahoots, and Tim Drake's in the waiting lounge at Delta Airlines. Good luck checking in all your robots, Timmy! Do they count as hand luggage?

We're heading, of course, into...

Eternal Batman Eternal
Issue #3

A gang war erupts in Gotham City, but the G.C.P.D. doesn’t plan to help Batman stop it. Plus: The return of a fan-favorite Batman supporting character: Stephanie Brown!

Stephanie Brown walks down the street, oblivious to the crowd of chanting, whooping fans who're lined up just off-panel, throwing confetti at her. Yes, Steph is back! And she's in her purple hoodie, walking down Bungay Street, making fun of her mother down the phone. Immediately she shows why she's such a fan favourite character by dismissing the biggest disaster in Gotham transportation history as "whatever" and being mean to her despairing mother.

She tells her mum that she's heading back to her dad's house for a quick second, because she left her Q-Pad there. Not an iPad! So what this means is that, in the DC Universe, Oliver Queen invented the iPad before Steve Jobs did. Do the people of Gotham also have Qpods, Qphones, and Qmacs? Because I'm super into that idea. It makes everything sound like it came from a James Bond film. HEY do you think Oliver has a section of his company which he called the Q-Branch? I know he's busy being on an island or whatever, but I hope he set up a Qbranch beforehand.

So anyway, Stephanie spends a few more panels being cruel to her mum down the phone, and then cuts off her off without saying goodbye. Just off panel, the crowd of fans turn to one another and raise quizzical, worried eyebrows. As she also forgot her key, she decides that her best tactic would be to BREAK IN to her dad's house, rather than knock on the door. Deciding that her dad will be delighted by her proactive nature, she wanders into the kitchen...

Where she finds her dad sat at a table, looking at a map of Gotham along with a group of super-villains. Firefly (you know, from Arkham Origins!) and Lock-Up are both there, as well as somebody called 'Signalman'. I have never heard of this guy before, but I hope his origin is that he was stood next to the Bat-signal when it got struck with radioactive lightning, or something.

It turns out Stephanie's dad is a supervillain called the Cluemaster, which makes him a bit like the Riddler except he, I dunno, drops a loads of clues at the scene of every crime he commits? We're in D-list territory here for sure. For her part, Stephanie is SHOCKED that her dad is a villain. Steph, he's got a ponytail. That's all the proof you need that your dad was not somebody you should've trusted. She starts to back away, but somebody coated in shadow clocks her round the head, and she blacks out.

Who was the mysterious man behind her? Crazy Quilt? Calendar Man? Tim Drake? We'll have to wait and see.

Because the next page whisks us away to GCPD headquarters, where the main reception has a big map of the city with "GOTHAM CITY" written on it. Amazing. I suppose that's to help Harvey remember where he is when he goes on one of his periodical bourbon-cruises. Harv's looking at the map as we wander in, along with another officer who for no goddamn reason whatsoever isn't Renee Montoya. Dammit! But all upsets are put aside because Dreamy Major Forbes walks in at this point and pulls rank on Lieutenant Harv. He's delighted by Gordon going to jail, because now "we'll actually be able to go back to doing the work we're supposed to do in this godforsaken city". By this he means "take lots of bribes".

Captain Sawyer walks in at this point and tells him that he'll be "crapping out your teeth" if he doesn't stop talking, which is a pretty convoluted threat even for her. She's not wearing her patented bulletproof vest, which is disappointing. She walks off, Forbes walks off the other way, and Harv snaps out of his stupor long enough to remember that he's supposed to have Ben McKenzie for a partner. Where'd Ben go?

He's gone to the cells, is where's he's gone. He has a chat with Gordon in the cells, because apparently they still don't have any damn guards on duty at the precinct yet. Bard believes that Batman will come along to save the day any moment now, which seems lazy on his part. Go solve it yourself! Gordon, however, has already solved the crime, it seems, and believes that he SHOULD be in jail. This is a man so responsible that he's still got his tie completely fastened up, and hasn't loosened it ONE bit. What a legend. A deluded, gun-imagining legend.

Next we find ourselves at The Iceberg Casino! Awesome. We head straight to Penguin's office for this next scene, as he begins to mentally torture a woman whose brother's been cheating the tables. He's set her up with a nice meal and glass of wine - there is literally no way that meal WASN'T her brother - and, best of all, a teeny tiny hat. This hat is 100% the greatest thing to have been in a DC Comic in twenty years, and whoever thought of it deserves a massive raise.

Penguin tells her that he fed her cheating brother to an elephant seal - god I hope Batman has to fight that seal later on in the series - and is about to do something even worse when Batman storms in. The girl takes this opportunity to run for her damn life, while Batman slams Penguin through a table. He demands to know what Penguin knows about the return of Carmine Falcone.

Catwoman has vanished by this point. Presumably she's gone off to stare at old family photos or something, the poor girl.

For his part, Penguin's got no idea what happened to Falcone. He says that he threw Falcone out of Gotham five years ago, and took all his power from him. So the Long Halloween happened differently, it seems, in the New 52 Universe. Falcone survived the story but was run out the city by Penguin. Batman tells Ossie that Falcone is back, and Penguin brilliantly throws shade in the dark knight's face. I love this bitchy new version of The Penguin, guys! He's super-fierce.

Deciding that Penguin knows nothing, Batman storms back out, without being punched once by a giant seal. Ho-hum.

At Gotham City Hall, Dreamy Major Forbes has been asked to go meet the Mayor - who is flanked by Falcone, still wearing that sloppy suit-shirt combo. They ask Forbes a few questions about what he thinks of crime (all for it), bribes (all for them) and law enforcement (why bother), and seem pretty pleased with all the answers they're getting from him. Or maybe they're too busy swooning into his deep blue eyes. One of the two!

Batman, meanwhile, has made a zippy return to the Batcave, where Alfred tells him that they found nothing in Gordon's bloodstream to indicate delusions of gunplay. Batman grumbles a whole lot at this, and remains convinced that Falcone is behind all this somehow. The computers flick red with an alert of criminal action, and Bats heads off to go shut it down.

Returning to Stephanie's house, Steph is lying unconscious on the floor while the criminals discuss the rest of their plan. Seriously, this is what happens. They knock her out, leave her on the floor - untied and in the same room - and then discuss their entire plan in front of her. It's only once they've finished plotting that they go "oh, by the way, should we do something about the blonde girl we knocked out ten minutes ago?"

The shadowy fifth member of the team says that dad should kill Stephanie to "show how much you're willing to sacrifice", but dad seems all too willing to get his gun out and shoot his daughter in the head. Wow, dad, that's harsh. Don't you know this is the DC Universe, where every child eventually takes on the mantle of their parents? Leave her be and she could be Cluemaster II! Or the Cluestress. Or whatever.

He puts his mask on and calls her a "disappointment", dismayingly oblivious to her super-awesome 'breaking in to a house' skills, and levels his gun at her. Screaming, she's punches one of the gas canisters round his belt, which cracks, and then she makes a run for it. She dives over a table and leaves the house the same way she came in, before peeling off back down the street. Steph, wait, you forgot your Qpad!

We return to Batman, who takes out a group of Falcone's goons and ties them up. SEE, CLUEMASTER? THAT'S HOW YOU DO IT! Tie them up! This time Batman walks out of earshot before using the super-secret "Penny-One" codename for Alfred, telling him to send along the police to arrest these guys.

And back in the Iceberg Casino, Penguin's assembled a group of his second-in-commands. We've got, lessee.. Mr Mosaic and Mr Combustible, as well as Imperceptible Man and Hypnotic all present at the table. Penguin's bought a new hat just for the occasion, and he informs them all that Falcone is going to make his move any minute now. Brilliantly, the meeting is then interrupted by a guard who informs Penguin that... Falcone just made his move. Penguin tells all his men to go get their men - they're going to go to war.

A gang-war! And you know what this means? It means Maggie Sawyer's going to put her bulletproof vest back on! Fantastic! She strides into the bullpen and tells everybody to "suit up", which seems like strange advice for police officers to follow. The team all get ready to head out and try and stop the incoming gang-war, only to be stopped by an off-panel voice which tells them that they'll "be going nowhere". Oh dear.

Batman IS going somewhere, though, in the Batmobile. He drives past a comic shop and a sign advertising "Tantic Live" - I have absolutely no idea what that might be, other than either a copyright-escaping production of Titanic; or Sting and Trudy Styler hanging out with a bunch of yoga enthusiasts. Batman can't believe that Falcone was so well-prepared and had everything planned so well. He says that he'll need the police to be ready to help out - which is when Alfred tells him the bad news.

Forbes has taken over the GCPD, it seems, at the appointment of Mayor Hady. He's been appointed Police Commissioner, which shocks Maggie and almost serves to drag Harv out of his drunk demi-coma. The police officers have a massive squabble between one another, which ends when Forbes says that the new policy is going to be letting the criminals kill each other. Interesting policy! It's meant to sound like a terrible idea, but actually that might just work in Gotham City.

Anyway, Forbes wipes everything off the whiteboard at the station (including things like "Icarus", the current villain in Detective Comics) and draws the new #1 target for Gotham's Police Force to take out.

You guessed it: it's Batman.

And while he's busy there, Steph has hidden herself down the narrows of Gotham. She calls her mum and asks her for help. Let's just hope her mum isn't a practitioner of "practical punishments", eh?

Issue #3 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


Anonymous said...

Oliver Queen's tech division was called Q-Core before it was blown up, so there's that at least.

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