As this week’s issue opens, we see the wreckage of the crashed fighter jet that Batman was seen ramming towards Robo-Bane at the end of last issue. As Batman emerges from the rubble he hears Bane mutter “I thought I won,” to which Batman replies “this is my city, Bane. Here…I don’t lose.” As Batman knocks Bane out, Red Hood comes up behind him and remarks that he wasn’t sure if he could have fought Bane off any longer “you’d have to string up this whole ‘Red Hood’ getup next to the old one down in the cave.” As Batman talks with the two Pennys, he makes a plan to help out the remaining Family members against their villains.
As we cut across to Blackgate, the riot is still continuing when Bullock, Jason Bard and Maggie Sawyer arrive to find Jim Gordon reading a book in a cell. Bullock notes that the unconscious men surrounding Gordon have clearly thought they could beat the former commissioner. As they talk, Rex Calabrese enters and reveals that Penguin was the one to instigate the riot and that he has escaped. We then see Penguin riding in a boat away from the prison alongside Killer Croc who is driving.
Over the next few pages, we see Batman coming up on the various villains – he helps Batwing take down Scarecrow by unleashing the Waynetech drones on the villain and dousing him with his own fear toxin. He manages to attack Mr. Freeze with an electrical shock and tells Bluebird to get back to helping people; then he utilizes Freeze’s gun to encase Clayface in a solid block of ice…this allows Red Robin to reconnect his systems to the bat-mainframe. Batgirl then arrives with an unconscious Joker’s Daughter and comments that she didn’t need any help taking her down. As the trio look out the window, they see that Gotham City is ablaze with fire and Batman becomes frustrated that he still doesn’t know who is behind everything. Alfred then comes over the comm and reveals that the batsignal has been lit…but it has been moved to the top of Beacon Tower. As Batman swings into the night to answer this mysterious summons, he comments to Alfred that if he doesn’t stop what is happening then everyone will die.
Cutting back to Blackgate, the three officers and Gordon look out onto the Gotham skyline and seem shocked by the massive catastrophe. Bard comments about what they should do, and Gordon responds “son, we are the Gotham City Police Department. What do we do when we come face-to-face with hell on earth? We get to work.”
As Batman arrives at the top of Beacon Tower, an unknown voice greets him and mocks that he still hasn’t deduced his identity. As the voice continues to taunt the dark knight, he comments that he wants Batman to admit he has no idea who he is. As the villain comments that a jolt might jog his memory, Batman gets hit with multiple tasers and falls to the ground. As the issue draws to a close our villain steps into the light to reveal none other than…the Cluemaster!
Okay…so I’m gonna talk about the whole issue first, and then get to the big reveal at the end. First this was a decent issue, I liked seeing Batman taking down all of the villains alongside his allies…however at this point in the story, we have seen Batman take down these villains already…so ultimately it is nothing new. There were a couple nice moments about Red Hood joking about his Robin costume and Batgirl commenting that she needed no help with Joker’s Daughter…specifically referencing that she has imagined punching Joker’s face over and over again. A few confusing points revolve around the Blackgate riot; I thought that Penguin was secured alongside Gordon inside a jail cell…how the heck did he escape??? Also Rex Calabrese reveals that Penguin started the riot, but didn’t Gordon already know this from last week???
Overall this issue was decent…up until the final page. (And forgive me, because I am going to rant a bit here.)
After weeks and weeks and weeks of getting teased with everyone villain in the book (and Batman even comments as such in this issue) we get our big bad revealed and it’s Cluemaster?! Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely out of left field…but where the heck did this come from?!
I honestly don’t know if I believe this reveal or not…I feel that we have been teased and misled so many times that I don’t know whether to believe this. It’s like the boy who cried wolf, once too many and this reader is skeptical. I’m not frustrated that it didn’t turn out to be Lincoln March or even Owlman…but the evidence doesn’t seem to add up. Stephanie first witnessed a conversation with who she believed was Bruce Wayne talking to all of the C-List villains (including her father) way back at the beginning of “Eternal.” If that was supposed to be our big bad, then who was the Bruce Wayne look alike? And how was Cluemaster in that meeting? He was even present when the various villains were getting all of Batman’s equipment and the mysterious voice told them all to have fun…Hush was locked up at that point, and Bard had switched sides…so who’s voice was it? I guess it could have been a recording, but that’s kind of lame. Also, our big bad is supposed to know Batman’s identity…how did Cluemaster figure this out???
I guess I really don’t know how to respond to this reveal – on one hand we are told that Cluemaster is behind everything…yet on the other, this series has been known to throw out various red herrings to keep us from seeing the real villain. However, can they really hit us with much more with only 2 issues remaining? Guess we will have to wait and see.
Overall I am being generous in regards to my rating, as I don’t know how this fits in to the story as a whole. However…if this turns out to be another wild goose chase I don’t know if can safely say that I think “Batman Eternal” was a good story.