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ORACLE OF COMICS #032 – BATMAN ETERNAL #21 – TEN FORTY-EIGHT

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #21 Bullock
Halfway through Issue #21 of Batman Eternal, you think that you are reading a filler comic. It isn’t bad, but is one of those issues that this series churns out every now and again, where the story is slowly built upon, but is mainly an excuse to add some character development to proceedings. Good, but not essential. However, when the comic hits the halfway point, it speeds right up to the maximum, hitting us with a terrific scene with Alfred, a brand new villain entering the fray (no spoilers, but he is one of my favourites!), and a twist that will shake the foundations of this story.

If it seemed that I was criticising the slower first half of the comic, I wasn’t. I like that the side characters were developed. We got to see a few tender moments from characters that are often overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Harvey Bullock has been on exposition duties from day one, but this issue, we get to see his take on the events of the last twenty issues. We get a sneak peek into the private life of Bard and Vicki Vale. Falcone turns out to still be a player in the conspiracy (he is much better now he is not centre of attention, but allowed to just show up and be menacing from time to time). These small moments might seem like they are time-wasting, which they might very well be, but it does make Batman Eternal feel like a bigger thing. Everyone is a three-dimensional character and it makes the events that unfold have a much more dramatic read.

Batman Eternal #21 Falcone
Also, how badass was Alfred! Out of all of the supporting cast that never get truly explored in Batman, Alfred is usually the first to be dropped. He serves well for the origin and all of the stories that are closer to home, but for a lot of Batman stories, it’s hard to think up a reason to include him. Today, Alfred gets to show off. He is given an extended scene, where he just screams awesomeness from every angle. He has some great dialogue, handles a weapon impressively and somehow unleashes the Vulcan grip to put someone to sleep. I am glad that now Eternal has a bit of free time to explore new story avenues, Alfred was chosen to be a key part in the next one. I hope we get more moments like this from him.

Batman Eternal #21 Alfred
And that twist at the end! I am still not sure what to think of it. It definitely surprised me, but I might need to go over a few of the previous issues to decide if it makes sense or not. I hope it is a planned twist and not something thrown in to make Eternal more jaw-dropping. The next few issues on this twist be fully handled will be make or break for Eternal. Like last issue with Spoiler’s reveal, it does have the same annoying effect of the civilian characters either becoming superheroes or bad guys, rather than just being ordinary for once. But at least with the latter, it has the promise of doing something genuinely interesting. For now, I am glued to Eternal and unable to guess what this story has in store for us.

Quote of the Issue:

Alfred: You have broken into my home. You are a threat to my family. Master Wayne might have a predilection against firearms… but I’m afraid he isn’t home right now.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on September 1st, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #029 – BATMAN ETERNAL #20 – WILD ANIMALS

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #20 Croc
Wild Animals continues the streak of action-packed fight scenes. I slightly prefer the last issue, but at least Eternal seems to be picking up the pace at a rapid rate. Here, we get the conclusion of three storylines and the birth of another one.

We start off instantly with Batman, Croc and Bard taking on Ten-Eyes and his army of spectres. This storyline is tied up a little too neatly for me, but it does feature some neat set-pieces. I assumed that Ten-Eyes’ abduction of Gotham citizens would tie into Deacon Blackfire’s schemes, seeing as they both having ghostly figures lurking around the sewers as an integral part of their plot. Sadly, it seems that Gotham is just unlucky enough to have two supernatural invasions in one night. (While we are mentioning Blackfire, where has he got to? That imminent threat was a cliffhanger a couple of issues ago that has been shoved onto the back-burner). Essentially, reviewing this entire three issue story, we can chalk this up to a simple distraction from the ongoing story, which does make this finale a little flat. We wanted it to be another part of the conspiracy, yet now this entire side of Eternal is dead in the water. At the very least, it did give us some time with Killer Croc, who is always a fun character, and Bard’s development continues strongly. I can’t say I hated my time with these three heroes.

Batman Eternal #20 Pluck
Gordon’s story comes to an end rather abruptly. It is all good, but I assumed there would be four issues worth of Falcone-fighting to get through. Gordon is apparently too efficient a hero for my liking. That being said, it is nice seeing him take on an army of goons using his wits. He hasn’t got the gadgets that Batman has, so it is rewarding to watch him hold his own in an action sequence. The downside of this story being cut short is that we never really got any more time with Falcone or the Penguin. I was hoping that they would get a few monologues out of their characters being mentioned again, maybe some more rationalisation with the wardens of Blackgate. I felt that would have been an interesting feature to have, but sadly the return of these two villains wasn’t so much of a return, but more of a prolonged cameo. On the plus side, there is a great twist to end this story, that I didn’t see coming. It adds a nice after-thought to the gang war saga that doesn’t bring too much to the plot, but adds a neat little layer of intelligence and development to the series.

Batman Eternal #20 Batgirl
Finally, Batgirl catches up with Falsario. This storyline suffers the most, as there is simply no time to do this one justice. I would have relished in Batgirl’s character a little more if I was writing this chapter. She is always threatening to break into her dark side and this fight would have been the ideal time for her to maybe go too far with the vigilante persona. As it stands, the sequence is cut drastically short, although it does add some more questions, which will keep Eternal on the watch list for comic-readers everywhere. I just hope that the ending development doesn’t mean that Batgirl’s arc has come to an end, as she was the most interesting sub-character of the lot.

And then there is one twist to end the comic. I don’t like it. A side character essentially adopts a superhero alter-ego and I didn’t see the point. I loved this character as a civilian, helpless against the corruption of Gotham. It was a new dynamic, yet now this character is yet another Robin knock-off. This storyline is now no different to the rest of Eternal. Not every character needs to be a superhero, yet the writers don’t seem to want to have a civilian develop without donning a costume at some point. I will be watching this side of Eternal with very judgemental eyes.

Quote of the Month:

Row: Go pluck yourself, Cobblepot.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on September 1st, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #027 – BATMAN ETERNAL #19 – BREAKING BAT

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal- #19 Croc
First things first: best title ever.

And now onto the rest of the comic. This was quite a jam-packed issue, but in the right way. It cleverly picks up three stories that each have something different to offer. Batman carries on from last issue, tracking down the mysterious kidnappers in the sewers, teamed up with Killer Croc and Bard. It is nice to see these three great characters, even if they do little more than lurk around and look awesome (the artwork for Croc is terrific). Then we have a brand new plot-line with Jim Gordon. Falcone and Penguin are continuing their gang war from inside Blackgate Prison and Gordon finds himself in the position where only he stands between the convicts and the lives of several prison guards, taken as hostages. It is a triumphant return for an important, yet sometimes overlooked character. Finally, all chaos breaks out, when Batgirl, Red Hood and Batwoman take on Falsario, one of the biggest leads we have been given yet.

Batman Eternal- #19 Gordon
The pacing works, because we have a beginning of a plot-line, the middle of a plot-line and then, a massive punch-up. We need to get through the opening exposition of Gordon’s new story arc and we also need to progress with Batman’s descent into Arkham, but the writers understand that this should never sacrifice fun. The truth is, none of the readers overly mind the slow exploration of Batman Eternal, but we just need some action to spice things up a bit. Therefore, when we are given a great fight between a brain-washed Batgirl, a slave to her anger, and Red Hood, we don’t mind breaking away occasionally to spend long scenes with little more than exposition. We never hated any of the story-building or scene setting; we just needed something a little more to make picking up a certain issue worth it.

Batman Eternal- #19 Folsario
But best of all, I am barely able to wait for the next issue. This Blackgate prison riot is a side of the Batman universe that I love, especially if we don’t have Batman to help save the day, but need to rely on a cop, who has had his hands behind his back from the very start of this series. The cliff-hanger is pretty epic and I hope it promises another great punch-up next time around. One without the supernatural illusion tricks that made the last Batwing finale a little mediocre. And while the action was certainly more hyped than usual, the Batgirl investigation isn’t over. She still has to track Falsario down, who is an interesting figure, as he does have the powers to make Gordon think he saw a gun on that subway station. Despite that arc being up and down, I think that is the advantage it has over every other plot-line: it brings the mystery right back to Issue #1, grounding this massive serial of a Bat-story.

Quote of the Issue:

Red Hood: Me, I only remember what’s important. Like the day I met Batgirl.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on August 16th, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #026 – BATMAN ETERNAL #18 – A NIGHT ON EARTH

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #18 Decided
This was a much stronger effort from Batman Eternal, mainly because we finally got to see Batman be Batman for an extended time. The issue is split fairly between Batgirl’s investigations in Brazil, as she teams up with Red Hood and Batwoman (why did Batgirl and Batwoman have to be sent on the same adventure? This is far too confusing for novices like myself!), and then Batman’s pairing with Bard. There is also a nice sprinkling of Jim Gordon, a character we must not forget is at the heart of this entire saga.

Batman Eternal #18 Killer Croc
It is good to see Bard back in good guy duties. As much as I liked his darker tone in the last few issues, I don’t want him to become a villain. I prefer him as one of the good guys, just someone who is willing to go down a slightly darker route than Batman. Here, he is thrown out of his league, as he takes on one of the more infamous figures in the Batman rogue gallery, the Killer Croc. It is a nice position to have Bard in, because at the end of the day, he is your typical police officer, way out of his league. This issue reflected that nicely, especially when contrasted with Batman’s cool and steady demeanour of going about things. It is great to see Batman get reintroduced to his own story, especially when pitted against Croc. As much as I like discovering less known Batman villains like Deacon Blackfire and the Joker’s Daughter, it is nice to have an issue grounded with a more prominent villain. Killer Croc ticks that box excellently, fantastic in every frame he is in. Croc is interesting throughout the entire arc and as the writers point out in one ghostly frame, he is no longer the scariest thing lurking in the Gotham sewers.

Batman Eternal #18 Shadows
The Batgirl storyline has been dragging its feet for some time. I liked Batgirl’s arc, because unlike a lot of the Robins that have been shoe-horned into the plot, she has a genuine reason to be involved with Eternal. However, despite the interesting premise, the storyline hasn’t really gone anywhere. One issue went for comedy over drama, while there hasn’t been a strong enough villain for Batgirl to face off against. She is paired with two characters that I don’t care much for. Red Hood is intriguing, but hardly someone I am clamouring to find out more about, while Batwoman hasn’t shown any personality as of yet. Her appearance feels like it is referencing her as an ongoing figure in the Batman universe, rather than giving her anything worthwhile to do. However, the issue does make me think twice about condemning this strand of plot. The issue ends with Red Hood reflecting on Batgirl, juxtaposed with frames of her beating up a bunch of goons. It is a terrific sequence and a great read.

Then we have Jim Gordon. His storyline doesn’t really progress, but it does offer up some nice details. We see a glimpse of Falcone, which is a nice touch. I don’t like it when villains are defeated and then written out of the plot. Eternal has been good with that, as evidenced by Professor Pyg. This issue is great with the small touches and I think that is what takes a comic book from good to great.

Quote of the Issue:

Bard (about Batman): Does he always talk to himself like that?

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on August 11th, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #021 – BATMAN ETERNAL #15 – THE COMMON LIMIT

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #15 Batgirl
Batman Eternal once again decides to go through several plot lines at once, rather than knuckling down and truly getting to grips with a specific set of characters. I partially expected this after the gang war story was brought to a close; we need to be reminded what is left to do for the next set of issues. However, a bit more tack would have been nice.

Batman Eternal #15 Spectre
Personally, I would have liked to have spent the whole issue with Corrigan and Batwing in Arkham Asylum. This story is the most intriguing at the moment, because no one has quite figured out what it is all about. We have seen Dr. Phosphorous rising from the depths and the Joker’s Daughter seems to be behind it all, but otherwise we have just witnessed a few terrifying shots of the inmates being tortured by supernatural forces. In fact, I would have happily had a whole comic book series of Batwing and Corrigan slowly making their way through the Asylum, a gripping horror mystery. As it happens, the writer’s attention is often elsewhere (with Bluebird, or with Batgirl), so the Asylum is never fully tackled. It moves along too fast, jumping from the eeriness of an empty Asylum to the horrors of the two heroes taking on zombies that come out of the brick walls. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this particular section of the issue, but I just wished that it was slowed right down, so we could appreciate every beat of the story, rather than rushing through it to get to the point.

Batman Eternal #15 Bluebird Robin
The other stories were kept to a minimum and therefore too short to comment on much. Red Robin and Bluebird remain a fun team, never really progressing with the story, but being so much fun to spend time with that you don’t mind wasting a page with them bickering. Bluebird’s ‘hand-made costume’ is quite a fun addition. Batgirl and Red Hood uncover a lead, but it doesn’t seem to be in any rush of carrying on Batgirl’s interesting arc. Batman is given the worst deal of them all. His appearance in this comic does little more than remind everyone that we are reading a Batman comic. In fact, his brief interaction with Bard actually hurts the overall story. Doesn’t this little conversation totally ruin the interesting dynamic that the last issue left us with? This is a problem with a story this big with several writers attached to the project: you end up getting issues that contradict each other.

Quote of the Issue:

Red Robin: You pull a stunt like this, you deserve nine hours in a stress position.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on July 18th, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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