Arkham Asylum, Batgirl, Batman, Batman Eternal, Batman Eternal #15, Batwing, Batwoman, DC Comics, Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyn, Harper Row, James Tynion IV, Jason Kalisz, Jim Corrigan, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, Red Hood, Red Robin, Scott Snyder, Tim Seeley
Batman Eternal #15
Review by Paul Bowler
Gotham’s gang war is over following the blood soaked showdown between Penguin and Carmine Falcone. While Jim Gordon had to make a decision that could alter his life forever, Lieutenant Bard and Batman reached a new understanding after tackling the corruption within the GCPD, leading to the arrest of Commissioner Forbes and the Mayor. Batman Eternal #15 follows Red Robin’s mission to Tokyo, while Batgirl and Red Hood run into Batwoman in Rio. Plus, as Batman and Bard deal with the remaining gangs in Gotham, we return to Arkham Asylum, where Batwing and Jim Corrigan must confront the hellish forces which have been unleashed there.
Batman Eternal #15 juggles multiple pot strands, building successfully on the aftermath of the gang war, while also giving the rest of Batman’s globe trotting allies’ time in the spotlight, as well as the sinister events in Arkham Asylum. With its fast paced story by writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, script by Ray Fawkes, along with consulting writers John Layman, and Tim Seeley, Batman Eternal #15 makes good use of all the characters and finely hones each aspect of the multiple plot threads that have been gradually building over the course of this weekly series.
The Common Limit sees Red Robin pilot his aircraft to Tokyo, having uncovered the stowaway Harper Row en route, who is determined to find out who is behind the nanotech that is slowly killing her brother. There are some really fun moments between Red Robin and Harper during these early scenes, the banter between them is excellent as well, especially when Harper gets his name wrong and dons a makeshift mask, something that nicely links into the Bluebird crime-fighting persona we know she will eventually adopt (as we saw in Batman #28) to fight alongside Batman.
As Batwing and Jim Corrigan explore Arkham the full extent of what has been happening begins to become apparent. While they may seem an unlikely team, the combination of Batwing’s hi-tech suit and Corrigan’s in-depth knowledge of occult forces, actually works really well, and the characters seem to have stuck up a very natural bond. Their descent into the lower levels of the Asylum is quite unsettling, we catch sight of Riddler’s cell, a shadowy stairwell finds an inmate babbling with all kinds of madness, and the Scarecrow’s fate is almost as disturbing as the bizarre manifestations in his cell.
Two further interludes, one involving Batman and Lieutenant Bard as they round up the remaining gangs members, the other with Batgirl, who has reluctantly teamed up with the Red Hood, on her mission in Rio to find evidence to clear her father of causing the Gotham train crash, although brief, ensure that both subplots are kept bubbling away in the background. I really like the dynamic between Batman and Bard, it’s very different to the one the Dark Knight had with Gordon, and I look forward to seeing how it develops over time. Batgirl and the Red Hood also had some intense scenes, and it was good to see Batwoman show up as well.
Dustin Nguyn’s art for this issue of Batman Eternal is excellent, together with Derek Fridolfs inks, the various locations and extensive cast of characters are all handled really well. Nguyn’s art brings a real sense of kinetic action to every scene, especially the segments in Arkham, with its sinister supernatural elements and hordes of raving lunatics lurking down in the Asylums shadowy depths. The colors by Jason Kalisz also gives each section of the story its own distinct tone: from the crimson hues inside Red Robin’s aircraft, the greys and blacks of Gotham are in stark contrast to the purple neon glow over a back street in Rio, while the horrors of Arkham are cloaked in mixture of deep shadows and ghoulish magic as Batwing and Jim Corrigan explore its secrets.
Batman #15 rounds everything off with a thrilling double edged cliff-hanger, one that will see Batwing’s reliance on the technology of his armoured suit pushed to the limit, while in Arkham’s basement Corrigan must face a new terror waiting in the darkness. I really enjoyed this issue, the various plot elements all meshed together well, and I also liked how we finally got to return to the storyline in Arkham as well. All in all then, I’d have to say Batman Eternal #15 was a good solid issue, the story and art were really impressive, and I look forward seeing how the intriguing global adventures with Batman’s allies and the supernatural storyline in Arkham pans out, as well as the impact they’ll have on future events in Batman Eternal.