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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
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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
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ORACLE OF COMICS #024 – BATMAN ETERNAL #17 – THE SAVIOR

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #17 Deacon
Last issue, Deacon Blackfire was revealed to be the master behind the strange going-ons at Arkham and this issue handles his further invasion of Gotham. Jim Corrigan and Batwing try to fend off the first wave of his minions from the deep, but with the Joker’s Daughter and the endless numbers pressing against them, they are really struggling against the odds. Also, in other news, Bluebird and the Red Robin confront the man behind the nano-technology, always pushing closer to discovering if Jim Gordon really did hallucinate the gun in the man’s hand.

Batman Eternal #17 Cleanse
This issue is little more than atmosphere-building. Looking back through the pages on a second read confirms that not a lot actually happens here. We are still underneath Arkham, Deacon Blackfire is still bringing his minions together for an attack on Gotham and everyone is still in danger. We could argue that Issue #17 brings little to the table in terms of story. Bizarrely, I didn’t mind this as much as I minded the last few issues of Batman Eternal. Mainly, this is because its goals as a comic were very clear. We were meant to put down this comic, mind blown and wondering how anyone is meant to take on the power of Deacon Blackfire. The comic achieved that goal very well. The last page is eerie and creepy. We have no idea what is going on with the supernatural throwing us all out of our comfort zone. We are lost and this means that we are also part of the nightmare. The supernatural also gives artist of the week, Dustin Nguyen, several opportunities to show off his artistic skills.

I enjoyed breaking away from the story to see Blackfire’s origins. This was clever because of two things. One – I know nothing about Blackfire, but I left this issue moderately up to speed with the man. While we didn’t get to cover how he got his supernatural powers, we left understanding his motives, and for me, that is far more important. Besides, writers have a tough job of getting newcomers, like me, up to date with the canon, without boring the veteran readers with details they have already heard hundreds of times before. Batman Eternal, on this occasion, handled exposition well. The other good thing about Blackfire’s origins was that it gave us some time with the actual Batman rather than his crew. Not enough Batman for me, but he gets a cool moment, it has a pretty neat bit of misdirection and I left this comic, feeling as though I read a Batman comic, rather than a Robin comic. Good job, in my books.

Batman Eternal #17 Kick Ass
Quote of the Issue

Batwing: I’m supposed to accept the supernatural. I accept it, okay? And now I’m going to kick its ass!

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 4th, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #023 – BATMAN ETERNAL #16 – THE MONSTER MACHINE

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #16 Harper
This issue focuses more on Arkham Asylum, keeping other stories to a few pages, but there is so much going on in the Asylum that this issue feels just as all over the place as some of the other comics. Jim Corrigan takes on Mr. Bygone, a cursed man who has become maddened and vengeful from his incarceration in Asylum. He wants to inflict his hordes of spectres on Corrigan and make him unleash the Spectre, his alter-ego that he seems terrified of letting out into the open. Meanwhile, the Joker’s Daughter has kidnapped Batwing and seems determined to carry out the orders of a mysterious benefactor. Logic dictates that she is idolising the Joker, but as events spiral out of control, it becomes clear that the mastermind behind this nightmare is able to dabble in the supernatural. Also, Bluebird and Red Robin finally get a major lead as to where the nano-technology originated, but will they survive long enough to truly get to the bottom of this mess?

Batman Eternal #16 Pyg
Arkham Asylum’s storyline is a welcome change of pace from the gang war. I have never been a fan of the supernatural in comics and as characters like Mr. Bygone and Dr. Phosphorous arrive in Eternal, villains I have never heard of before, I feel on the back foot when it comes to the other readers. However, the material is approached well. The creepy exploration into the Asylum, more prominent villains like Scarecrow and Pyg reduced to helpless victims, slowly sheds light on the horrific truth of what is going on. The tension is dialled right up to the maximum. This is far more exciting than corrupt cops and gangster, which is the norm when it comes to Batman. This is the 75th Anniversary; we need something to break the mould and the supernatural definitely does that. I just wish that it took its time a little more. Eternal never stops to take a breather and relish a moment. We are always racing to the next plot point, which wastes the potential of this chapter in this 70 issue story. Maxie Zeus cameos here, but he never really makes an impression. He is just a pawn in this massive game, because no time is given to explore him.

Batman Eternal #16 Jokers Daughter
Eternal is much better with the smaller beats. Let’s forget last issue’s back-step and talk about how interesting Jason Bard is. A massive flaw with Batman is that few characters are given the space to develop. They are not really characters; they are symbols. The Penguin will always be a greedy gangster with violent tendencies. Scarecrow will always be fascinated by fear. No one ever changes in Batman, because then they will become something that new readers don’t recognise, excluding the wider audience. With Jason Bard, we are finally given a character arc that excites us. Bard started as a Gordon copy, but he has become a character in his own right. His relationship with Batman, and now Vicki Vale, has changed and this has made him the one to watch in this whole comic. While I am glad he has been side-lined for a moment, so other stories can be explored, he is the best thing I have seen from Batman Eternal as of yet.

On more depressing news, Batman is once again cameoing in his own comic series, which is a massive shame seeing as it is his anniversary week. Surely, this goes against the whole point of Batman Eternal: the comic celebrating 75 years of Batman.

Quote of the Issue:

Red Robin: You idiot. You are going to get us…

Bluebird: …saved. I’m going to get us saved!

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 26th, 2014
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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
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ORACLE OF COMICS #013 – BATMAN ETERNAL #9 – THE UNBURIED PAST

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #9 Catwoman
As much as I like the multiple narratives of Batman Eternal, I like how this issue doesn’t jump as much around as we are used to. We start with a brief catch-up with Forbes and Falcone, their partnership not as steady as Forbes wants us to believe. However, then we are thrust to Hong Kong, where Batman is trying to figure out why Falcone abandoned a successful criminal empire in Japan. Shen Fang has taken over where Falcone has left off and Batman needs to team up with his man in the Orient, Jiro, the Japanese Batman.

I quite enjoyed the change in scenery. While these comics are played at breakneck speed, we never really get a sense of Jiro’s gang wars with the Ghost Dragons, we see just enough to pique our curiosity. The writers also play with the idea of having a villain no one has heard of before, Shen Fang. We have no idea what this guy is like and it gives the writers a lot of breathing space with what to do with this new bad guy. He looks impressive too, literally bursting onto the page in a gut-wrenching fashion (you’ll understand what I mean once you’ve read it). There’s a neat little mystery, which is nothing more than a distraction from the overall Eternal story arc, but it is enough to make for an enjoyable side issue. Eternal throws so much conspiracy at you that there is something very pleasant about breaking from the story to beat up some masked thugs in Hong Kong.

Batman Eternal #9 Shen Fang
The dialogue here is marvelous. For the first time in my Inter-Comics run, I have been stuck at what the Quote of the issue should be. Falcone is given some great lines, earning him a bit more respect in my eyes. Batman goes full-on Batman, with some scenes that remind people why he is the most famous of the DC superheroes. Even Catwoman pops up briefly for some meaty dialogue, although we expect nothing less for her character. Seeing as only a little happens this issue, lines like these make this issue so much more worthwhile.

And a new character enters the fray. I didn’t see that twist coming and for the first time, a week’s wait feels like torture.

Batman Eternal #9 Mystery
Quote of the Issue:

Batman: You shouldn’t have done that. I just wanted to ask you some questions. (…) But now? Now I am going to hurt you!

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 June 7th, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #012 – BATMAN ETERNAL #8 – GUIDED BY DARKNESS!

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #8 Trouble
If every issue of Batman Eternal was like this, I would be a happy reader.

In fairness, it has been a while since Eternal has had a truly bad issue. There was fun to be had last time and the few issues before that added a few more layers to the mystery, hooking us right into the conspiracy of the story. However, it still felt a little inconsistent and jumbled. The eighth issue settles into what I thought Batman Eternal would be: inching closer to the answer hidden behind Gordon’s incarceration. This issue forgets Dr. Phosphorous, forgets the mysterious nano-technology and forgets the reveal of Joker’s daughter that has been mysteriously brushed away for the time being. We are back to the square roots of the Dark Knight: Batman, Falcone and a helluva amount of corrupt cops in between.

Batman Eternal #8 Message
What I liked about this issue is that it focused on Batman beating up Falcone’s goons, but it seemed like it was more of an issue devoted to the supporting cast. We were still spending an issue with Batman, more than we’ve had in a long while, but it was through the eyes of other people. Jason Bard, the man who opened this whole story for us, gets a lot of development. His motives and personality are put on the table, hammering home to the point that he is a good cop in a bad town. We’ve seen this story before, but in Gotham, this plotline never seems to run out of material. Vicki Vale also makes a return, the feisty reporters character earning every streak of dialogue. Her scene with Bard was smartly written, Vale turning to her womanly charms to get the story out of Bard. Is a romance blossoming or is Vale up to something? It’s a small sub plot, and most might think it wastes precious frames, but, in my mind, it adds depth and lifts the story arc higher.

Stephanie Brown gets a mention too. She remains my favourite strand of storyline here, because it is so disconnected from everything else that I am left scratching my head at where the Cluemaster fits into everything. I am waiting for the twist with great anticipation. The story isn’t even brought up too much. We just see a shattered phone booth, two days after we last left Stephanie, covered in blood and bullet-holes. The following scene plays out really cleverly and I cannot wait to see where this leads.

Batman Eternal #8 Vale
I am still lost at how time fits into all this. Vicki Vale went from witnessing a twist with the nano-bots, another storyline that was harshly dropped, to appearing at a crime scene, as though she was making a first appearance. A character who popped up last issue is now in Hong Kong, in the space of a day. That will need explaining. It vaguely works at the moment, but seeing as Batman is heading off to Hong Kong, time needs to be planned a bit more carefully than it has been in past issues.

Quote of the week:

Tiger Shark: Do you want me to get rid of him, or get rid of him?

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 May 31st, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #010 – BATMAN ETERNAL #7

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #7 Bat goes
This episode is probably the most action-packed yet. Despite this series having a nasty little habit of dancing around conflict, this issue finally delivers not one punch-up, but two terrific fight sequences.

In a clever move by the writers of this issue, we strip away the Dr. Phosphorous taking on Batwing storyline for the time being, so the comic can actually highlight the characters it wants to discuss. Therefore, we zoom in on Batman, as he rushes towards the explosion that rocked Gotham last issue. When he gets there, it turns out that Professor Pyg is back and behind it all. After having his plan ruined in the very first issue, he has regrouped, got together a following and is marching out onto the streets of Gotham, intent on reducing the city to his idea of ‘beauty’. Meanwhile, we meet up with Penguin, as he tries to plan his assault on Falcone. He is confronted by Catwoman, however, who is not happy that the underbelly of Gotham is being torn at the seams by this gang war. A terrific fight breaks out, while the pair of them are unaware that Falcone’s next move might not be as far away as the Penguin suspects.

Batman Eternal #7 Batman
This episode is the right balance of fun and story progression. While the overall story arc isn’t brushed totally away, it struck me that the main goal of Issue #7 was to just deliver a bit of a punch to the comic series, especially as it was dragging its feet as of late. Penguin is always a fun character to tackle, because he has so many little tricks up his sleeve. Catwoman is the ideal person for him to face off against, because everyone is familiar with the character. She also has the benefit of not being a straight good guy, so we are unsure if the two are going to kill one another, or maybe join sides against Falcone and the Batman. On a lesser note, I didn’t buy into the fact that the writers tried to make Penguin a sympathetic character. They give him a monologue, where he tries to appeal to Catwoman (and the audience) that he keeps Gotham safer, under a united mob, while Falcone’s reign will equal chaos. Penguin has never cared about Gotham; he cares about power. While it was clear that the writers wanted us to have a favourite side in this little gang war, this isn’t a very good way of helping us pick one. Penguin the hero doesn’t sit right with this reader.

Batman Eternal #7 Penguin
On the other side of the comic, we have the Batman. Finally, we get the issue Gotham deserves. While the fight between Penguin and Catwoman occasionally comes across as a cheap trick to get across some exposition from the bad guy’s point of view, Batman vs. Pyg is just pure action. Frames are devoted to portraying Batman in a bad-ass light. Pyg, while not a villain I am too familiar with, is delightful here, portraying the kind of madness that makes the Arkham games’ version of Batman so enjoyable. It also throws up some clever twists on Falcone’s part, which is appreciated. Falcone isn’t the most threatening villain, so he needs a good plan up his sleeve. If he carries on like this, I am Team Falcone over Penguin’s random sympathetic monologuing! Also, there is a neat little twist with Commissioner Forbes that surprised me and could mean chaos for Gotham, according to the cliff-hanger we are left on.

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 May 22nd, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #009 – BATMAN ETERNAL #6 – THE DENIED!

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #6 Ghost
This issue opens up with Batwing caught in a mid-air with the Gentleman Ghost. The fight is short-lived, but it acts as a promise: this issue is action-packed.

Action-packed might be the wrong word to use here. It certainly moves along at a brisk enough pace. Within the first few pages, we have set up numerous storylines. A ghostly figure begins brewing below Arkham Asylum that looks truly terrifying. A new villain is introduced in one frame that will get the fan boys pumped. On top of that, the crime war between Falcone and Penguin rages on, with Batman tearing across Gotham, sleep-deprived and desperate. However, none of these conflicts are concluded. In fact, maybe that quick fight with the Gentleman Ghost was only featured, because Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV were getting very aware that this issue wasn’t containing a single punch. I don’t mind too much, because this issue acts as a set-up for what should be a great next issue. The pieces are in place for what should be a tense, and hopefully moderately chilling, action piece.

Batman Eternal #6 highness
I am always cautious when Batman tackles the supernatural. While the mobster crimes of Falcone and Penguin do have a habit of getting stale, I am not really too keen on the Dark Knight taking on anything too otherworldly. For one, I like the detective side of Batman and when he ends up taking on ghosts like the mysterious figure shown here, it is hard to make him seem all-knowing. However, as far as those stories go, this one has balanced quite well. Batman is experienced enough to know how to take on Gentleman Ghost and when mysterious reports of supernatural disturbances going on in Arkham, he turns to the help of Jim Corrigan, guided by a mysterious force, known as the Spectre. And the plus side of magic getting involved is that this new, skeletal enemy has a way of getting under your skin that Falcone just cannot do.

I am still a little lost with Batman Eternal as a whole. While the main arc was struggling to keep me interested, it cannot just disappear completely. Other than a few name-drops, it isn’t brought up at all. What happened to the Cluemaster? Wasn’t Batgirl about to kick some ass? We seemed to have moved away from that totally, which kills the tension of that storyline. I am unsure where we are with the mystery as a whole. While I enjoyed this issue a lot more than some of the others, it puts the overall Eternal arc in a bit of a bad light.

Batman Eternal #6 Jim Corrigan
And finally, I love the artwork here. Some of the bigger frames are astonishingly good. The spectre rising from the graves. The dark corridors of the Asylum basement. They will stay with you for a long while.

Quote of the Week:

Batwing: He said, if you start, like smoking from the eyes and mouth, I should run. He said I wouldn’t want to see what happens next.

Corrigan: Sounds like he covered the basics.

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 May 22nd, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #008 – BATMAN ETERNAL #5 DISINFECT!

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #5 Batman Red Robin
This issue moves away from Batman, Bard and ex-Commissioner Gordon and picks up a new strand of story. This time, we focus on the Red Robin, taking the investigation back to the first issue. While Batman and Batgirl take on Falcone and try to solve what happened to Gordon, Red Robin is focused on the children that were abducted by Professor Pyg. Turns out they were not infected by Pyg’s serum, but something else. Red Robin decides to head off on his own to get to the bottom of that riddle. In the meantime, Vicki Vale takes an intern and tries to find out what Falcone is up to. However, that gets her into trouble with some of the goons in the Narrows. Throw the Bluebird into the mix and the three sections of stories end up colliding in an explosive way.

I was a little apprehensive, as soon as I realized that we were going to be having a Batman-lite installment of Eternal. I came here for Batman and I want the god damn Batman. However, on the other hand, while I have been hooked on the mystery, I have to admit the series had been dragging its feet. A change of pace is just what the story needed. It helps that this additional strand of story has really upped the ante. Up until now, it was just another case of ‘gang war’ and who is behind it all? Now, we are introduced with a new element to the mystery, which throws in some more colourful ideas into the pot. As Red Robin says at one point, this is “more advanced than anything Pyg is capable of”. My interest has been well and truly piqued once more. Also, it was nice to have Vicki Vale added to the story. She is a character that often gets lost in the canon, but here, she makes up for lost time, especially in the final frame, where she shows the reader how a civilian woman stands up alongside all of these vigilantes. Bluebird was also a welcomed addition to the story, as I know very little about the character, but she bursts onto the pages, grabbing your attention and respect instantly. I look forward to what she gets up to.

Batman Eternal #5 Vicki Vale
Yes, I enjoyed this issue, but there were a few, minor details that confused me. The main one was the Batman’s only scene. Last we checked in, Batman was rushing away to stop Batgirl rashly interrogating a suspect. How does he have time to pop in on Red Robin? Is this a mistake as the writers change hands in between issues? Or maybe the two strands of story are told slightly out of order? Either way that can get confusing fast and needs to be better explained to the reader. The other thing that threw me was how Vicki Vale’s plan of action was to waltz into the Narrows to interview people. I get that Vicki is a headstrong reporter, but there’s a difference between headstrong and stupid. This is what happens when a writer needs to lay Vicki Vale out for the newcomers to Batman, without recovering old ground for old fans of the character, while progressing the story simultaneously. In the space of a few frames. It is tricky, but I think Vale needed to have her scene thought through a little longer. However, like I did say, her character redeems herself in the final page.

I also wasn’t sold on the art style. Sometimes Andy Clarke drew a beautiful portrait of the characters. The goons were very detailed; we could see every crevice and imperfection on their face. Red Robin looked very cool, illuminated by the glow of his holographic detective system. However, other times Clarke dropped the ball completely, mainly during the ‘talking head’ moments. When characters got through exposition, Clarke would draw Vale or Cullen with an expression that looked a little ridiculous. The overall style was good, interesting, and at times, the most beautiful we have seen the art in Eternal yet. However, it was a little inconsistent, which frustrated me at times.

Batman Eternal #5 Cullen
However, that is just me nit-picking. This is a true return to form for Batman Eternal, maybe only being trumped by the very first instalment of the series. Batman Eternal isn’t quite at the quality I want it to be just yet, but as far as comic books go, this is a good investment.

Quote of the Month:

(when intern Joey Day meets the Red Robin)

Day: I have a picture of you on my wall.

Red Robin: Uh. Thanks?

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 May 10th, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #007 – BATMAN ETERNAL #4 INJUSTICE FOR ALL!

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #4 Batgirl
This week, Gordon goes on trial, provoking some angry feelings inside of Barbara, also known as the Batgirl. Batman begins to see parts of his earlier self inside her, mainly the anger at the injustice of Gotham. He might have to put investigating Gordon’s trial on hold to make sure that she isn’t about to do something stupid. Meanwhile, Bard struggles to stay afloat amidst the corruption of Gotham, Gordon’s troubles appear to only just be beginning and Stephanie, after finding out her father was the Cluemaster last issue, has no idea just how deep the conspiracy goes, and how much danger she is actually in.

Batman Eternal #4 Behind bars
Injustice For All is a bit of a poor issue. I picked out two reasons for this. The main point is that there is a little too much to cover. This is a common problem with the Batman universe, as there are so many characters to cover. Having the main focus of your mystery as police corruption is fine in itself, but it means that we have to keep jumping to all of these characters. Bard needs to be checked in on, so the reader knows that he is an essential part to the narrative, but at the same time, we don’t want to forget about Gordon, who is meant to be one of the most important characters in the whole story arc. On top of that, we have Batgirl. While it actually makes sense to explore Barbara Gordon’s reaction to the whole drama, as she is the daughter of the guy being put on trial, I hope that the writers aren’t going to keep doing this with other characters. For example, do we have to cover what every ex-Robin is going through in future issues? It keeps this issue stagnant and before long I can see the actual Batman being pushed out of his own story.

Batman Eternal #4 Falcone
The other annoying factor here is poor writing. I get the elements of the issue’s story, but the comic struggles to get from Point A to Point B. Two moments in this issue severely lost track of logic. There is a scene where Batman breaks into Falcone’s penthouse and learns his side of the story. However, he does very little in this scene. He breaks through, has an obligatory awesome Batman fight scene and then ‘chats’ with the guy who he believes is the mastermind of the whole thing. He literally accuses Falcone and then just walks off into the night, without even trying to get any answers from the supposed big bad guy of the conspiracy. While it covers up the plot hole of ‘can’t Batman just take Falcone out right now?’, it throws up so many other questions and gaps in logic that the scene fell flat. The other terrible piece of writing was when he confronts Batgirl in the Batcave. Yes, she is angry and yes, she should be watched, but she actually uncovers a pretty, big clue. It is probably going to be a red herring, because the writers want to go down the road of Barbara’s judgement being clouded, but at the same time, shouldn’t Batman at least hear her out? She pretty much has figured out something that could crack the case wide open and all he does is lecture her on her understandable anger. Batman is very unBatman-like this issue.

Batman Eternal #4 Batgirl clue
It’s not all bad. The Cluemaster subplot is turning into my favourite part of Batman Eternal, with another neat plot development. The cliffhanger was pretty creepy and promises a good fifth issue. And, while I have already made this point and will make it again several more times, when the next issue comes out in a week’s time, I find myself OK with a substandard story. Hopefully this is nothing but a small wobble on a pretty great story arc.

Quote of the Issue:

Leo: Cops in Blackgate… they don’t tend to last very long. And cops in Blackgate Gen-Pop? Well, they might as well skip the trial and hand you your death.

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 May 4th, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #005 – BATMAN ETERNAL #3

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #3 Jim Gordon
Previously on Batman Eternal, we saw Jim Gordon go from hero to villain, when he fired at an unarmed suspect, resulting in a catastrophic accident in the Underground. Batman is hot on the trails of the culprit, seeing as the police aren’t asking too many questions. Last issue ended with Batman realising that Carmine Falcone had one of his men on the scene, and the reader learns that that same Falcone is now getting close to the Mayor, which is bound to cause some trouble for Gotham in the next, few issues.

Batman Eternal #3 Jack
The good thing about Batman Eternal is the weekly series element. Even if one comic is slightly mediocre, we are willing to wait a few more issues to see the bigger picture. Other comics, like Harley Quinn, need to impress us time after time, as there are only out once a month, but there is a massive amount of freedom for the writers with Eternal. For example, the reveal of Falcone was a little unsatisfying for me (the way Batman trembled, you assumed it would be someone bigger), but it didn’t phase me too much, because Issue #3 was out before I could let the disappointment linger too much.

Issue #3 is still setting the scene really. We see Falcone make a move on Gotham and how everyone reacts to this. Batman is struggling to keep up with the onslaught of crime erupting from Gotham, the few remaining good cops are caught in a sea of corruption and a famous figure from Batman’s rogue gallery struggles to hold his dominance as Falcone turns up the heat. Looking back, this issue is little more than moving chess-pieces into position, but it still is an exciting read. The suspense and tension is dialled up to the maximum and we are clinging onto every thread of the story.

Batman Eternal #3 Cluemaster
My favourite moment in the comic was the addition of the Cluemaster. Everyone has a good, little chuckle, as Cluemaster’s teenage daughter accidentally walks into one of his secret meetings. It is a very funny moment. And then that scene gets dark very quickly, in a way that only the Noir world of Batman can get away with. I know very little about the Cluemaster, but he seems very interesting, especially with some of his actions here. He doesn’t seem like a massive threat, but he seems an interesting character to explore at the very least.

Quote of the Week:

Great introduction to a favourite villain. (REDACTED VILLIAN): Oh, my dear, sweet girl. What kind of monster do you think I am? I fed him to an elephant seal three hours ago.

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 April 26th, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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OUT OF THE LONG BOX #020 – BATMAN ETERNAL #1

Review by Chris Fenn

Batman Eternal #1 Gotham on fire
Coming in to this issue I didn’t know what to expect. I have seen the front cover advertised in previous ‘Bat’ comics, and I read the preview from Batman #28, but in all honesty I sort of didn’t know what to expect.

I am happy to say that this seems like a welcome blend of suspense, action and mystery. I feel like I’m going to like this comic.

The beginning of the comic really made me think of Grant Morrison. Now I know I seem to say that an awful lot, but hear me out; the city being on fire with Batman at the heart of the destruction seems very reminiscent of Damian’s possible future from Incorporated. I love the disembodied voice talking at Bruce, and the intensity and pain in the eyes of the fallen Batman.

Batman Eternal #1 Forbes
The set up with the new cop was really nice. I don’t believe I’ve seen the corrupt cop before, but he reminded me of Flass, or at least that sort of dirty, power hungry archetype. I found that despite most of the cops being new they all fit in well and felt familiar; they had enough depth and character that I could believe in them all without wanting an entire issue dedicated to the GCPD.

The obvious mystery of this story will be what happened to Jim. As the reader we saw the gun Jim saw, but seemingly nobody else did. Is this all a dream? Is there somebody manipulating perception? Does this mean that Gotham may not really be burning? I certainly don’t know; but I do intend to keep on reading and find out!

Batman Eternal #1 Gordon
For more comic views and reviews follow Chris on Twitter at @fenneth1989

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Posted on April 10th, 2014
Category: OUT OF THE LONG BOX, REVIEWS
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