We’ve got a hostage situation going on, and not only has Professor Pyg captured several key players in the overall storyline – but he’s being badly underwritten as a nursery-rhyme obsessed body horror enthusiast. Dare you brave the pun assault that awaits? It’s Batman Eternal #10!

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Writers: John Layman, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Consulting Writers: Tim Seeley, and Ray Fawkes
Artist: Riccardo Burchielli
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Taylor Esposito

The Long Halloween starts off this week’s issue, as the comic steps back five years to when Catwoman slashed those three cuts down Carmine Falcone’s face. This has been a recurring thing through the whole of the New 52 era – that all the writers are totally aware it’s mad to try and establish Batman’s timeline and have everything make sense, but that all the writers are 100% down to give it a go every chance they get. There’s been like seven robins and three or four stories all claim to simultaneously be Batman’s first year in the role… but sure, let’s all focus on Catwoman wearing her Darwyn Cooke outfit during The Long Halloween, then.

Or, it’s hard to tell, maybe the comic is saying she gave him the scars during a completely different story, now. At any rate, she’s busy stealing from Falcone just before he leaves Gotham and The Penguin gets a chance to take over, and he’s saying how he’ll never forget this moment. Which, cutting back to the present day, turns out to be a pretty true assessment. He’s still nursing that grudge. Apparently it taught him that Gotham needs a protector so it won’t be taken over by freaks – hey, I know somebody else who thinks that! – and he’s decided to be the one who’ll restore sanity to the streets.

He’s starting this by creating a whole gang war and allying with a man who has a sadistic pig fetish thing going on, but we try not to dwell on that side of the deal, you guys. Also please forget that he’s also working alongside a literal ghost.

Speaking of Pyggy, though, the Prof is out on the prowl, looking for revenge with his sweet posse by his side. He’s got, well, it looks like he’s stitched animal heads onto people and armed them with scythes, so it’s not quite the West Side Story homage that you might have been expecting. They’re breaking into Falcone’s penthouse and making nursery rhyme-related puns, and they’re all out of, um, well actually they have both things pretty well in hand, really.

Catwoman reminds Falcone that Gotham already has a protector, but sadly says that it’s Batman rather than, as I’d hoped, Harley Quinn. Or does she live somewhere else now? This whole debate annoys Falcone and he smacks Selina off her chair, which usually means that she’s going to escape as a result. Don’t slap the cuffed catburglar, people! Falcone doesn’t think Batman is up to the job or protector, anyway, and that all the animals – bats, cats, penguins etc – are going to be put back in their cages soon. Dude – you don’t cage penguins. They’re communal animals, that’s cruel.

Pyg thinks so too, as he walks in with more nursery rhyme jokes. Somebody’s been practicing.

At Batman’s house, we establish that Julia Pennyworth works for the S.R.R., which is some kind of British spy agency I think. She’s not very keen on her dad, though, ignoring him entirely and only addressing Bruce in conversation. She wants to get on her feet and walk away, which isn’t the best deal when you’ve been stabbed through with a sword a few hours ago. Bruce, used to the experience of somebody trying to get out of bed earlier than they should, shuts her down.

Some youth is hanging around the corridor in a jacket, so of course it turns out to be Jason Todd. He firstly calls Alfred ‘Alf’, which is just weird, before asking what his next mission is – which is also weird. I thought Jason was meant to be the one who never comes running to help? Where’s hipster barista Jason Todd when we need him? This alternaTodd gets told that his mission is to keep an eye on Batgirl whilst she goes on some grudge mission to South Africa, so we’ll see him again in a few issues I guess.

Pyg has turned things into a hostage situation over at Gotham Hotel, and Vicki Vale is first on the scene to do some flirty stuff with Bard. In perhaps the best moment of the issue, it turns out that Pyg has mispelled “Falcone” as “Falcon” and wants to turn the mobster into a half-man, half bird creation. This is what we came for, Batman Eternal!!

By the way, Stephanie Brown is still on the loose. Cluemaster yells at his minions for not capturing her, because he’s just found out that she’s Gossip Girling his secret identity all over the internet. She’s also secretly living in the local library, which is quite sad.

Pyg’s now tied Falcone to a table and seems ready to do some surgery to him. It’s here that we notice how particularly not Grant Morrison a writer John Layman is, because he seems to have no idea how to create a decent or menacing Professor Pyg in this issue. It’s all puns and jokes and none of the winnowing sincerity which first dominated the character when he debuted. What could have been a particularly mad sequence is instead drawn blissfully short by Batman dropping in through the ceiling and beating up all the animals in short order.

At the end, only Batman and Catwoman are left standing, and before Catwoman can get a measure of revenge on Falcone, Batman takes her away. Well this was all very anticlimactic.

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When Commissioner Forbes finally finds out what’s happening – doesn’t he have a TV in the office? – he demands that all the police run in with no regard for their lives to try and kill Batman. Bard takes the call and waits a whole two seconds before issuing the order, which the comic suggests is the sole reason why Batman and Catwoman escape with their lives. Whatever would they have done if Bard hadn’t offered a two-second head start??

Batman and Catwoman have a quick catch-up, during which Catwoman explains that she thinks somebody is leading Falcone on – he has a boss. Who could it be? Well, given the final panel of this issue which looks dead-on like it’s Hush, I’m going to have to go ahead and guess that it’s Hush. Hush is back, you guys! But is he the big baddie or does he have bosses who have bosses who have bosses? Who bosses the bossman, you guys?

42 more issues to go.

Want to read along with Shelfdust? You can pick up Batman Eternal Vol 1 from Amazon here – and buying it from our link helps us out too!

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