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Reviewing Eternal’s Batsgiving: Things We Know and Things We Don’t

Batman Eternal-Thanksgiving Promo

It’s been over a year now since we first glimpsed the image above which Scott Snyder released on Twitter and DC issued as a two-page spread which wished us a “Happy Batsgiving.”  At the time, the image (drawn by Jason Fabok) was meant to tease the then-upcoming weekly series, Batman Eternal.  However, now that we are a year after that image and nearly 8 months into Eternal, let’s take a moment to see what clues from the image seem to have been deciphered and which ones still leave us scratching our heads.  After all, Scott Snyder promised that every detail in the image would be important.  Also, as you might expect, the rest of the post will contain spoilers through issue #35 of Batman Eternal.

Things We Know:

  • Alfred  –  Alfred appears in the image to be in a straight jacket.  We know now why that is.  In an earlier issue of Eternal, Alfred gets an injection of a very potent form of Scarecrow’s fear toxin directly to the brain and ends up hospitalized and later in Arkham Asylum as a result.  Luckily, we also know now that his time in Arkham was only temporary.


  • Gordon –  Commissioner Gordon appears in handcuffs in the image and readers found out in the very first issues of Eternal that Jim Gordon was arrested and later convicted of negligent homicide for shooting an unarmed criminal and causing a massive train wreck resulting in many casualties.  Although Batgirl, Red Hood, and Batwoman were able to find evidence proving Gordon’s innocence, that evidence has yet to be effective in getting Gordon released and he remains currently in Blackgate Prison.


  • Spoiler  –  Long-time fans of Stephanie Brown were excited to find out that the character was returning to main DC continuity and she has done so already in the pages of Eternal premiering as Spoiler in her attempts to “spoil” her father, Cluemaster’s evil-doings as part of the larger plot to destroy Batman and bring Gotham into chaos.


  • Julia Pennyworth –  When the image first debuted, there was at least one woman seated at the table in the image who was unnamed.  Few speculated that the character depicted would be revealed to be Julia Pennyworth, superspy and daughter of Alfred.  Julia took her father’s place in the Batcave while Alfred was incapacitated by fear toxin and appears to be intended to be at least a semi-permanent fixture in the Batman family as she also appears in the “Endgame” story in the pages of Batman which takes place after Eternal.


  • Falcone – Eagle-eyed readers easily recognized Don Carmine Falcone and his scarred face in the Batsgiving image.  Falcone was initially presented as the villain behind the plot of Eternal only later to see that he was merely a pawn in the game of someone yet to be named.


  • Jason Bard – Another character in the background that was not easily identifiable has now been confirmed to be Jason Bard.  While Bard was a popular character in the pre-New 52 continuity, in the pages of Eternal, Bard has been portrayed as a corrupt man traumatized by previous encounters with superheroes before his time in Gotham began.  Bard becomes commissioner after the disgrace of Jim Gordon and is revealed to be working alongside other villains to destroy Batman.


  • Robin –  While Robin has not appeared in the pages of Eternal and has not been alluded to either, many speculated that Titus appearing in the Batsgiving image with a Robin on his back might be a sign that Damian Wayne might be returning from the dead to retake the mantle of Robin.  Although, there is still no evidence that Eternal will feature elements of that story, it has been confirmed that Damian will be resurrected to be Robin once again.


  • Batgirl/Red Hood – When the Batsgiving image was released, Scott Snyder mentioned that the proximity of the characters in the image would be just as important as the characters themselves.  We’ve seen now why Batgirl and Red Hood might be standing close to one another as Eternal has seen the two characters cross paths several times with Red Hood being called upon to reign in Batgirl as she has violently sought vengeance for her father’s wrongful imprisonment.


  • Harper Row/Red Robin – Another proximity clue might have been Harper Row sitting beside Red Robin in the image.  We already knew that Haper Row would become a new costumed member of the Batman family and Eternal has revealed that Tim Drake would be the one to start her training, explaining the characters appearing beside one another in the teaser.


  • Bandages – There was much speculation after the release of the Batsgiving image that the bandages at Batman’s feet were an indication that Hush would be appearing in Eternal and may even have been the main villain for the story.  Over the course of recent issues, we have seen confirmation that Hush would appear and play a major role while also seeing recently that Hush, like Falcone, was merely a pawn in someone else’s larger game.


  • Penguin/Iceberg Lounge – The notorious villain, Penguin, played a role early on in Eternal but has been pretty silent recently.  In the first several issues, Penguin finds himself in a gang war with the newly returned Carmine Falcone which results in both of them landing in Blackgate with many casualties, including the Iceberg Lounge.  It remains to be seen if the character will play a larger role later in the story.


  • Professor Pyg – Another villain seen in the Batsgiving image was Professor Pyg.  The masked villain played a role in the first few issues attacking various places in the city and being involved with some vicious nanotech but was quickly revealed not to be a major player in the title and hasn’t been heard from in a while.


  • Joker’s Daughter – Snyder also told readers that where various characters appeared in the Batsgiving image could be important as well.  This might be the case with the Joker’s Daughter.  In the image, Joker’s Daughter appears underneath the banquet table and she featured prominently in recent issues as well as early issues as being involved in events underground beneath Arkham Asylum and was most recently seen trying to kill Batman just before the asylum was destroyed.


  • Riddler Question Mark – Careful viewers of the image identified what appeared to be a Riddler question mark on the wall of the house in the image.  This could possibly be an allusion to the secret, encoded message that Riddler left on the wall of Arkham Asylum or to the upcoming solicitations which state that Riddler discovers the real villain behind the events of Eternal.


  • Vicki Vale – The infamous Gotham reporter also appeared at the banquet table in the image and readers have seen her covering various stories as the story has progressed including most recently a story about the history of Jason Bard who she has also been dating.


Things We Don’t Know:

  • “Blonde” Nightwing – One thing that has not been made completely clear is the character seated on the other side of Red Robin in the image which many on the internet named “Blonde” Nightwing.  At the time the image was released, the final fate of Nightwing in the Forever Evil event was uncertain.  We know now that he is presumed dead by everyone but Batman but is really a double-agent working for the Dark Knight in the spy agency Spyral.  It’s unclear whether this Nightwing-like figure in the image is meant to be Dick Grayson either in how the character might have been envisioned post-Forever Evil (whether in the current Grayson incarnation or something else that might have been scrapped) or a character that has yet to be revealed.


  • Batwoman Engaged – DC has long been toying with the engagement of Batwoman in her own ongoing title while also staying that Batman family characters couldn’t have that kind of happy ending.  The intrigue continued in the Batsgiving image as Batwoman appeared with a noticeable bit of bling on her finger.  Batwoman has appeared in Eternal but not in a way that relates to her engagement or potential wedding.  With the recent announcement of the cancellation of the Batwoman ongoing title, it is uncertain how that story will play out or what her portrayal in the image might mean.


  • The Bones – Another prominent feature of the Batsgiving image is the large pile of what appear to be human skeletons.  While there have been various deaths so far in Eternal (including the many people who died in the train wreck which started off the title), it remains uncertain whether the bones shown are meant to be thematic or refer to something specific.


  • Owls – One last obvious thing included in the image is the large owl sitting in the tree.  With Scott Snyder being the lead creative mind on Eternal and having also created the Court of Owls in the early issues of the New 52 Batman, it may not be surprising if the Owls make an appearance in Eternal especially since we know that the main villain behind all the events of the title has not yet been revealed.


Those are all the things that I’ve noticed as well as their possible explanations (or lack thereof).  Let me know in the comments your thoughts about my explanations or what things I might have missed or gotten wrong.  Hopefully all of our questions will be answered and everything will be made clear as the first year of Eternal is set to end in March 2015.

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