Gotham is getting to be a bit of a downer nowadays, what with all the murder and with Gordon being taken out the picture. Who is going to step forward and be Gotham’s newest saviour? Well, far be it from me to spoil things…. it’s Batman Eternal #3!
Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Consulting Writers: Ray Fawkes, John Layman and Tim Seeley
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Okay, here we go: Stephanie Brown is making her way back into the DC Universe! Well actually she’s making her way back to her father’s house after leaving her ‘Q-Pad’ there. One of the more fun little things in The New 52 is how DC decided that Oliver Queen’s company should basically be like Apple, and so everything is named a ‘Q-Something’. Good thing he didn’t invent Q-Tips, or they’d have to be called QQ-Tips and everybody would think Quentin Quire were involved somehow. Mr Terrific does something very similar actually, where he tends to call his products ‘T-Something’. At least he actually does invent them though, unlike Oliver, who just takes credit for things he didn’t do.
Speaking of Bob Kane, this series came before DC managed to come to a deal which allowed them to start giving credit to Bill Finger – who is the man who actually defined and basically created Batman. DC didn’t like not being able to credit Finger, which is likely why they’ve erased the “created by Bob Kane” sole credit from each individual issue’s credits page in the trade edition, and simply put it once at the start instead. Anyway, Steph tries the front door of her house and finds it locked, because jesus Steph what kind of person just leaves their front door unlocked nowadays?
Rather than knock as would be, y’know, a normal thing to do, she instead breaks into the house and finds out that her dad’s ‘puzzle evening’ is actually something far more puzzling: a group meeting of D-List supervillains. It turns out her father is Cluemaster, he’s friends with somebody called Lock Up, and Steph gets ‘wump’-ed round the back of the head by an unseen member of the group. Welcome back to comics, Stephanie!
At the GCPD, we have some briskly effective scenes setting out who is who and what we should think of them all. Gordon is still in a holding cell, and he’s still telling everybody who visits that he’s guilty, and there’s nothing weird about the incident where randomly shooting an electric box caused a massive explosion and caused two trains to crash into one another. Elsewhere, it looks like Maggie Sawyer is being lined up to be the next commissioner – news which doesn’t sit too well with Major Forbes, who seems poised to try and make a power grab at any moment, the jerk.
We next get to hang out with Penguin at his Iceberg Casino, which is a literal iceberg floating out somewhere in Gotham harbour. He’s with one of his staff-members, who it turns out has been helping her brother cheat on the tables. She tearily confesses to everything, only for Penguin to reveal that he’s already killed her brother by feeding him to an elephant seal. Gee, I hope he’s LION about that! Because sea-lions? I’m wasted on your readers sometimes.
Batman bashes down the door minion-first, letting the girl race off. Now I know her brother just got eaten, but this is a pretty remarkable escape for her – racing off from Penguin with hundreds of thousands of dollars in her account. I guess Batman has other things on his mind.
He wants to know about Carmine Falcone, but Penguin had no idea that the mobster had returned to Gotham. Turns out Penguin was the one who threw Falcone out of town to begin with, so he should probably start worrying about what Falcone’s plan means for him. Hopefully that elephant seal still has room for a second course.
Falcone and the corrupt Mayor meet up with the aforementioned jerkface Major Forbes, and work out whether Forbes can be bribed. The answer? “Yes, absolutely, yes please sir, two bags full, hurray for the good old days”. I tuned out the actual dialogue, but it was something along those lines.
We get our first proper look at the Batcave next, as Batman wonders if he can prove Gordon innocent for two largely unuseful and unproductive pages of dialogue with Alfred. What does come across is that the Batcave is a lot more boring than it used to be – he’s not even got a giant animatronic dinosaur knocking about anymore, by the looks of things, let alone a random huge coin. Is that coin the most famous bit of Batman ‘lore’ which absolutely nobody remembers the origin of? We all just accept that Batman keeps a huge coin in his basement without ever questioning just how he got it. What was Joker planning to use that thing for? A twelve-story slot machine? Not sure he could’ve got away with building that one unnoticed.
Dick Grayson’s Batsuit is on display in the cave, alongside Damian’s cowl. Sniff.
Waking up after uncovering her dad’s fantasy supervillain league, Steph has to come to terms with three sad discoveries: one, that her father is a supervillain. Two, that he has no problem with killing her in order to keep that secret. Three: that his codename is ‘Cluemaster’. Steph punches one of the gas capsules he wears on his belt, which goes off and gives her a distraction so she can escape. Either she has a mean right hook, or he needs to seriously reconsider the material he uses to construct those things.
Penguin assembles his own squad of worthless villains after news spreads that Falcone is going after all of his weapon caches. Hey, it’s like that subplot in Arkham Knight! But with less Nightwing. Sniff. Penguin lists off every one of the villains he’s assembled to help him out, and it’s glorious: Imperceptible Man, Mr Mosaic, Hypnotic, and Mr Combustible. So two of them use formal pronouns, one is an adjective, and the fourth one is called ‘Imperceptible Man’? Batman mythos is incredible, you guys. My only regret is that Penguin doesn’t list Imperceptible Man last when he scrolls off their name – or even better, forget he’s in the room entirely.
Having said that, the art clearly shows a fifth man sat round the table, who Penguin completely forgets about. Maybe he’s Imperceptibler Man.
Batman is already well on his way to disabling the various attacks on Penguin’s caches, of course, because he’s Batman. But he starts to realise that the police aren’t picking up any of the tied-up criminals Batman’s been leaving in his wake. Heading to the police station, we start to see why: just as the four people who work at the police station are heading out to stop the violence, Mayor and Major pop in to announce that Forbes is getting a promotion – he’s the new commissioner.
Mayor Hady says this and then promptly sods off, which is amazing. I’m sure he wasn’t known to be corrupt before this series start, but he’s an absolute natural at it.
Commissioner Forbes tells the police to ignore the actual gang war currently going on throughout Gotham, because from now on they only have one mission: to stop Batman. Yeah, because four reluctant people in body armour are going to be able to do what flipping Bane hasn’t been able to do for years.
The issue ends with Stephanie Brown, who is hiding behind a dumpster somewhere in the middle of the city. She tries to call her mum, to discuss the whole ‘dad just tried to kill me’ thing. Given the way her mother was previously trying to warn her off breaking into dad’s house, though, there’s a pretty good chance that Steph’s not going to find much help there. Poor Stephanie Brown. Did she even remember to pick up her Q-Pad before leaving?
49 issues to go.
Steve Morris runs this site! Having previously written for sites including The Beat, ComicsAlliance, CBR and The MNT, he can be found on Twitter here. He’s a bunny.