Batman: Eternal still has a lot of characters in play—too many if you ask me—but the third issue begins some semblance of purpose for some of them and introduces a high-profile new entrant into the mix. It still feels like the focus isn’t as tight as it should be this early in the series and many of the characters that appeared in the last two issues take a backseat in this one, but the progression of the story is definitely beginning to show signs of something significant. I’m all for the grand narrative that co-plotters Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV are aiming for but it’s going to be the smaller conflicts, like the ones developing on this issue, that drive this book to be a must-buy each week for me. What’s setup in this issue, if the tension is ratcheted properly in the coming weeks, could result in a solid episodic story arc.
Perhaps what is most notable about Batman: Eternal #3 right off the bat is that it reintroduce fan-favorite Stephanie Brown back into the DC Universe. While her role in this issue is limited to discovering her father is a super villain—hate it when that happens–she appears to be a likely lynchpin in the near future for the conflict at hand. That conflict takes center stage in this issue as the newly returning Carmine Falcone positions himself against not only fellow mobster The Penguin but the GCPD as well. I’m still unsure where this leaves the looming threats established in the last issue (Doctor Phosphorus and Blackfire for instance), but the conflicts explored in this issue have a lot of potential. Several key players are curiously relegated to the sidelines temporarily in this issue (Batman, former Commissioner Gordon, Jason Bard), yet with the next issue promising Batman vs Batgirl, I’m sure at least two of those characters will be featured heavily next week. Sorry, Bard.
Jason Fabok’s art has been consistent since the start and this issue leaves me with a lot of the same feeling. As there are not a plethora of new faces running around, it’s much easier to recognize the recurring faces we do see, which is essential for a series that has built up so many characters. Although I am not particularly fond of this design for The Penguin, it is definitely on par with the recent Arkham video game series version of that character, so it’s at least understandable why he looks so vile. Otherwise Fabok’s designs continue to help define the characters to the point where I’m almost able to pick them out before they are addressed in the story. Almost.
GNN Rating for Batman: Eternal #3: [usr 4]
Batman: Eternal #3 has a lot more going on for it story wise, and it certainly helps that Stephanie Brown is now officially back in the universe. While her role is still minimal at this point, it looks as though the seeds are being planted for something much bigger down the line. This is a tighter story than last week’s cliffhanger-heavy plot, though it doesn’t leave the same kind of excitement for the next issue.