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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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OUT OF THE LONG BOX #042 – BATMAN #34

By Chris Fenn

Batman Vol 2 #34 Help
Thank you Gerry Duggan; this is what I’ve wanted to see in my main Batman title.

Batman #34 is a wonderful one issue story called ‘The Meek’ which is a welcome break from reading some really long story arcs. The plot is your standard find the murderer book, but instead of using copy-cat killers or any of the usual big names we get a nameless, disposable villain; which in my opinion does the book a lot of favours.

The book felt very ‘Black Mirror’ to me, especially in terms of tone, which is interesting as Scott Snyder is credited as co-writing the story to this issue. One observation I have made on Snyder’s work before is that he doesn’t write about Batman, he writes about Gotham and features Batman within the book, but I don’t think I can honestly say the same about this story.

Batman Vol 2 #34 Dr Thompkins
I found that the art style of this book was also similar to that of ‘Black Mirror’ and both really fit the narrative of their stories. What I really like about the art in this book (by Matteo Scalera) and Black Mirror (Jock) is both artists can really build tension and atmosphere without making anything feel over the top. I also loved Scalera’s Batmobile, it seemed like a beautiful mixture of the Killing Joke Batmobile, the Tim Burton Batmobile and the Tumbler.

It has to be said that Batman doesn’t get the most ‘screen time’ this issue, but his dialogue and actions make him feel like a benevolent and vengeful guardian of Gotham, which to me makes him closer to the core of the character, rather than the anger filled Batman we’ve seen in the bigger story arcs. I actually found this issues Batman more in line with the Animated Series interpretation.

To focus more on the comparison to the Animated Series; when Batman ultimately apprehends the villain of the story he doesn’t just lock him in Arkham, he adds a twist to the punishment so the villain doesn’t get any ‘reward’ from his actions. Touches like that that made me fall in love with the animated series, and if Snyder can continue to produce good characterisation like this then I’m eagerly awaiting his newer issues.

Batman Vol 2 #34 Jokers Cell
Even though I am a reader of Batman Eternal, I found the two page spread at the start of the book a brilliant way to recap what had happened in the Batman world before and during the publishing of Zero Year; it wasn’t an overload of exposition and it felt natural to the events of the plot.

For anybody looking to get into the New 52 Batman titles without having to wade through back issues or pick up a bunch of trades I would certainly recommend this to you, and for anybody up to date on their Batman titles I would recommend this as a brilliant story of Batman being Batman.

For more comic views and reviews follow Chris on Twitter at @fenneth1989

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Posted on August 17th, 2014
Category: OUT OF THE LONG BOX, 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 #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
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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OUT OF THE LONG BOX #038 – BATMAN ETERNAL #14

By Chris Fenn

Batman Eternal #14 Penguin
Now I know @LukeBbtt has been reviewing Batman Eternal but I thought I’d give it a read this week and see how my thoughts compared to his.

I reviewed the first issue of this series and thought it was really good with a very promising future for Gotham City. Since reading it though I have to say I have been disappointed.

My favourite issue to date has been the Batgirl one, with Red Hood and El Gaucho, because it felt like a Batman comic with a clear story and character work instead of just a cluster of loose ends and characters. This issue, to me, felt like another collection of characters doing meaningless stuff.

Now let me throw this out there before people get upset or angry; I like Scott Snyder. I really liked The Black Mirror. I liked the Court of Owls. I mostly liked Death of the Family. Scott Snyder is a good writer…

… But Scott Snyder needs to stop doing story arcs that require a million issues. I’ve complained about Zero Year before for being too long, but Batman Eternal is estimated to run for Sixty issues. Sixty! From start to finish that’s fifteen months. This story will finish in around July 2015, and I cannot fathom why this story needs sixty issues to tell.

Based on the Batman #28 preview/filler issue we know that Steph is going to be spoiler and we know that Harper is going to assume a more active role in the plot as Bluebird and we know that there is going to be a sort of police state in place, so until then it’s almost like we’re going to tread water.

Batman Eternal #14 Bard and Batman
I also now totally agree with what the @intercomicspod gang (@gizmo151183 specifically) have been saying about destroying the character of Gordon, only now it feels that nobody ever except for Batman is allowed to be good and try to not outright murder people. At first I thought Snyder and Tynion IV were going to build Bard up as being squeaky clean and the Jim Gordon people want in the New 52 so his inevitable heel turn would have more impact, but in this issue he reveals he’s cool with a dozen people dying.

Also why is it trendy to make the Scarecrow an awful character? He was awful in Arkham War, he was awful in the Gothtopia storyline and he’s awful in this. Oh, and The Joker’s Daughter is in this too; so far she has popped up twice for no real reason and in no relation to any other events of the story; but she has Joker in her name so cool beans, right guys?

I feel like this book is struggling and could be due to end any time soon, but we are less than 25% into the event. I just really want some nice short stories; a few one and done comics, some two or three issue arcs, with interesting characters that don’t need to change the face of the DC Universe forever.

Batman Eternal #14 Scarecrow
I don’t understand what Batman Eternal is trying to do; why is Carmine Falcone built like a WWE Superstar, why did The Penguin pierce the throat of his henchmen for being helpful and why don’t we see Batman in a Batman comic?

I don’t want to read Batman Eternal any more, but I feel obligated to considering everything has to tie into everything else and I’ll probably not be able to read any other Bat title soon if I dare to miss a single issue.

All in all I find Batman Eternal as a whole, and Scott Snyder, to be overly indulgent, with too many characters, not enough direction and far too much of a desire to be remembered forever instead of giving readers a good story.

All in all, I give Batman Eternal #14 a 9.5 out of 10.

That was a joke by the way.

I think I’ll leave this series to @LukeBbtt in future!

For more comic views and reviews follow Chris on Twitter at @fenneth1989

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Posted on July 10th, 2014
Category: OUT OF THE LONG BOX, REVIEWS
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OUT OF THE LONG BOX #036 – BATMAN #32

By Chris Fenn

Batman Vol 2 #32 Clap
This is the penultimate issue of Zero Year, and I quite enjoyed this issue. There are some bits I thought were really good, some bits I wasn’t too keen on and some bits that I didn’t get at all.

One of the bits I just didn’t get was the opening page of the issue. I don’t know who the homeless person is, if he is supposed to be anybody, and it isn’t made clear what favour Batman requested of him. I don’t know if this is something that will be made clear in the final issue.

This could be something minor, or perhaps a lack of thinking on my behalf; I remember there being the ‘Tokyo Moon’ references in the build up to Dr. Death and they were sort of lost on me until pointed out. It could just be the case that I’ve only been reading these issues as they come and not in one big sitting so the plot isn’t as fresh in my mind as it could be.

One thing that I really liked was the colouring of the issue. It’s rare to see Batman out in the day, and it makes sense in this story, but seeing such vivid colours of the Savage City reminds me a lot of the original colouring of The Killing Joke. The psychedelic backgrounds and multi-coloured robots really contrast with the oppressive nature of the story and it’s really pleasing to look at.

Capullo’s pencils are at his usual high standard, and I love the sleeveless Batman look; granted out of this story it wouldn’t make much sense but I do like the ‘Cowled Commando’ costume.

Batman Vol 2 #32 Sleeveless
Snyder seems to have nailed The Riddler’s voice in this story; he’s intelligent and smug to the point of outright arrogance. I love how he distributes little fun facts to his victims when he thinks he’s about to kill them. This is definitely a villain I want to see come back in future storylines, especially in the capable hands of Snyder.

I like how Batman is portrayed as fallible and doubtful; I like how when he and Lucius are talking where to strike Batman guesses, and acknowledges that it’s a guess and if he’s wrong then it’s all over. Remember this is Batman’s New 52 version of Year One, and he is supposed to be making mistakes and not omnipotent or omniscient.

There’s a brilliant heartfelt moment where Bruce sends a message to Alfred admitting that Alfred was right and acknowledging his own mistakes. It always warms my heart to see Bruce show his true emotions to Alfred, and seeing him say “I love you Alfred” almost brought a tear to my eye. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Snyder’s Batman; I’ve felt in the past he has been too consumed by rage and unwilling to seek help from his extended family, but this moment has really sold me on Snyder’s ability to write an emotionally balanced and fleshed out Batman and I hope we can see more emotional responses like this.

Batman Vol 2 #32 Robot Riddler
I also really liked the scene where Bruce tells Alfred he loves him for a more cinematic reason. Seeing the air force prepare their jets adds real immanency and urgency to the story and pushes the pace on a lot quicker; now Batman has to beat the Riddler and be quicker than Jim in order to save Gotham from destruction.

This has been a really good issue of Batman, but I will still be happy to see the back of Zero Year. One more issue to go before I can get truly excited about Snyder and the main Batman series again!

For more comic views and reviews follow Chris on Twitter at @fenneth1989

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Posted on June 26th, 2014
Category: OUT OF THE LONG BOX, REVIEWS
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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
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
 

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
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2 #14 – ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, MAD MAN LOST HIS DAMN MIND IN THE WEST…

By Robin Jones

PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2 #14 Header
“Once upon a time, in a land of glass, steel and concrete, lived a displaced and homesick people wandering the sidewalks, hidden from the wider world. Fabled characters of lore and stories, they co-exist with us, the mundys, whilst dreaming of reclaiming their stolen lands. In the shadows however, lurked an ancient evil. An evil of many forms and shapes. Wampir, Striga, Peuchen, Kasha…Vampire. Different breeds and legacies inhabit the night, but in this modern world of steel and glass, a new breed lurks. Different. Feral. Wild. The American Vampire. In this land of fables and monsters, only one will inherit our world…let the battle commence…THE COMIC BATTLE!”

Rather than have two books of the same nature facing off against one another in the latest comic battle, I wanted to see what would happen if I chose two beloved series and threw them head to head at one another; snarling, gnashing, clawing at each other until one stands victorious over the other, it’s ink leaking all over the pavement, pages torn and ripped and it’s spine tattered and broken. Step forward, the challengers: Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire and Bill Willingham and Lan Medina’s Fables: Legends In Exile. Two unique books from two very talented creative teams. They were unleashed upon each other all over my twitter feed and during the course of the day the poll swung in both books favour. However, only one could stand victorious…and that one was…

Fables Vs American Vampire
Fables.

New York. Home of immigrants, the hot dog, the Empire State building, community spirit, yellow taxi cabs and the displaced refugees of the fairy tale worlds. Our once upon a times are their worlds and existences. A world and existence that was ripped from them by the omnipotent and malevolent Adversary.Those who survived the invasion and onslaught fled into our world, the one world the Adversary had no interest in, the one world without magic, the Mundane world. Fables: Legends in Exile collects the first five issues of Bill Willingham’s sprawling epic, introducing us to the world the fables inhabit and several key figures. Snow White, deputy mayor/director of Fable affairs, and Bigby Wolf (formerly the big bad wolf, in a human form) are tasked with investigating the suspicious death of Snow’s sister Rose Red. Effectively a prologue, the volume suffers slightly due to it acting as an introduction. The pacing is slow to start with, but as you follow Bigby’s investigation, it picks up, the writing starts to shine through and the detective story really picks the pace up.

What Fables: Legends in Exile does, is provide us with a great deal of characterisation, despite the (at the time) ludicrous idea of fairy tale characters existing in the “real” world. The murder mystery feel of this first volume concentrates more on the reactions to Rose Red’s apparent death rather than the procedure, which adds a nice touch of charm to things, instead of focusing on the procedure behind the investigation, and it helps us to get our bearings in Willingham’s world through the eyes of the reformed Bigby and Snow. Snow is a strong character, albeit a slightly stereotypically 90’s woman, however her dialogue is snappy, her emotive scenes work well and she is an excellent companion to Bigby’s grizzled, noir-ish detective and his unrequited affection for Snow offers us laughs. The side characters are also intriguing, and it’s obvious that they are being setup for future issues/arcs. There’s Jack the fabled giant killer, an inept tricksters and schemer and his girlfriend Rose Red, Snow White’s estranged sister, socialite, party animal and the assumed missing. Then there’s Bluebeard and Prince Charming, the former a posturing, wealthy villain, the later a slick, womanizing conman with a list of conquests who haunt him.

Fables #2
Lan Medina’s artwork, unfortunately, can feel very dated. However his style is evocative and the detail he puts into each panel is beautiful. The character designs are fantastic, with Bigby’s gruff detective reflecting his wolfish nature, the other animal fables shining through with personality and charm and each fable has a modern element added to them. to keep a fairy tale theme, there are scroll designs throughout the artwork, playing on the comics roots and the colours and shading, whilst dating the comic, do also lend to its charm. Each of the cover’s are a standalone work of art, with cover artist James Jean creating masterpieces.

Fables Covers
Whilst there can ultimately be parallels drawn between Fables and the TV shows Once upon a Time and Grimm, it was Willingham’s idea that came first and this first volume sets the scene for the long running story, chock full of characters with an unexpected amount of complexity and tantalizing storylines. From what I understand, it only gets better from here.

Inter-Comics currently has Fables and the Comic Battle loser American Vampire on sale at the moment, where you can pick up single issues starting at 99p! Just follow the LINK!

Until Next Time…

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on May 30th, 2014
Category: PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2, REVIEWS
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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
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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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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