[Comic Publication Date: 4/9/14]
There is a part of me that’s glad Batman: Eternal #1 isn’t the mind-blowing first issue that I was hoping it would be. It’s that rarely shown sensible side of me that doesn’t want to have to spend $2.99 each week for one title, which is the exact commitment that Batman: Eternal is striving for with its weekly release schedule. Even the much more visible, often louder side of me that loves Batman unreservedly has to admit that Batman: Eternal #1, while certainly a far cry from a bad comic book, is decidedly average. It hints at a greater narrative to come, but how far removed that is from this starting point is an enormous, lingering question mark that could mean hundreds of dollars in investment for a comic reader long-term. Unfortunately that’s not money I have to spare right now.
From the striking images on the opening page of a bloody Bruce Wayne crucified on the Bat-Signal while Gotham City burns behind him, it’s obvious that Scott Snyder–who is overseeing Batman: Eternal in a showrunner-like capacity—has a grand endpoint in mind. But whereas the teased finale acts as a conspicuous foundation for the series, the proceeding events in the present are a more ordinary affair. Frequent collaborator James Tynion IV joins Snyder for a team-up tale between Commissioner Gordon and Batman while introducing a new character, Jason Bard, the new night shift lieutenant in Gotham. Where Gordon and Bard find themselves at the end of this issue has a great irony to it, but truth be told I was a smidge spoiled with Batman #28, which previewed later events in Batman: Eternal and was filled with a smattering of more exciting surprises (such as Stephanie Brown’s triumphant return). That certainly doesn’t make Batman: Eternal #1 a bad issue, just a far less thrilling one when compared to what we all know is eventually going to happen in this series.
Whereas the script is divided amongst two writers (with a slew of credited “consulting writers”), the art duties in Batman: Eternal #1 are left to Jason Fabok alone. Fabok has a great use of shadow in his depictions of the characters, which melds well with the opening dialogue about Gotham at night. His action sequences are always clear and bombastic, allowing a scene like a heavily armored Batman bursting into a room and punching down the biplane of one of his villains to be just as astounding as it sounds. Colorist Brad Anderson provides the typical palette for a Batman comic with a lot of dark colors dominating the page. Much like the issue itself, the art and the colors are a standard affair befitting of the Dark Knight.
GNN Rating for Batman: Eternal #1: [usr 3]
Batman: Eternal #1 is a fine issue of a new Batman comic series, but the potential for it to be more exciting is shown to be coming down the line. Yet with this being a weekly series, how much will readers need to invest in order to get to the point where characters like Harper Row or Stephanie Brown become regular participants? It’s still too early to know whether or not this series will merit plunking down the $2.99 each week, but at least give it a shot and decide if it’s worth the hefty investment for yourself.