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Batman Eternal #4

Review by Paul Bowler

The situation for Jim Gordon gets a lot worse in Batman Eternal #4 and Batgirl clashes with Batman following her fathers bail hearing. With a gang war breaking out between Carmine Falcone and the Penguin, and Forbes promoted as the new Commissioner of the GCPD, it makes Batgirl even more determined to clear Gordon’s name. Meanwhile, having fled for her life, Stephanie Brown makes desperate a call for help…

Batman Eternal #4 charts the shocking aftermath of Gordon’s bail hearing, as the full details of the train crash are read out in court. The evidence is pretty damming and even Gordon is left questioning his own sanity as the full enormity of the people who were killed and the damage he caused finally begins to sink in. This taught story by Scott Snyder & Jams Tynion IV, together with John Layman’s script, and consulting writers Ray Fawkes and Tim Seeley, really hammers home Gordon’s plight and the effect his downfall will have for the GCPD, Batman, and of course Batgirl.

The scene were Batman confronts Batgirl after she has beaten some of Pyg’s henchmen to a bloody pulp is excellent, with the Dark Knight even taking a few punches himself, as he tries to get through to Batgirl. The tension between Batman and Batgirl in these scenes is almost palpable, which in turn is heightened by the fact that Gordon has doubts about his own actions, something that must be heartbreaking for Barbara to endure.

Batman Eternal #4 (Cover)

This issue also finds Stephanie Brown alone and scared on the street of Gotham following her New 52 debut last issue, where she discovered that her father was the Cluemaster, along with who is was working for, and what they have planned for the city. Stephanie manages to find a phone and call home. What follows keeps us all guessing, nothing is quite what we expect, and Stephanie’s phone call unwittingly puts her in even more danger. Batman Eternal #4 shifts effortlessly between these multiple plot strands: entwining them seamlessly with Barbara’s account of the bail haring, Batman also pays Falcone a visit, and there are some big changes happening at GCPD as well.

The artistic duties for Batman Eternal #4 are handled this issue by Dustin Nguymen, along with inks by Derek Fridolfs, and the colors are provided by John Kalisz. There is a great deal going on in this isse, Nguymen’s kinetic style manages to keep the transition between scenes sharp and fluid, allowing the issue to unfold at a brisk pace. While the fight between Batgirl and Batman was brief, it was really well handled, as the emotional impact the bail hearing had on Barbara was reflected in the way she handled Pyg’s thugs and stood up to Batman.

The rest of the issue looks great as well. Each location has a very distinctive look, from the vivid hues of the courtroom and GCPD, to the dark streets of Gotham, the luxury of Falcone’s penthouse, and the deep shadows of the Batcave, this issue of Batman Eternal also takes us inside the imposing walls of Blackgate Penitentiary.

As well as featuring a striking cover by Jason Fabok, this issue is gripping reading, and a real page turner. With its great story and art, Batman Eternal #4 is one of the best issues so far in this new weekly series. There are some great scenes between Batman and Batgirl in this issue and the grim closing moments are really intense!