Jason Bard has a big plan locked and ready to go, just as long as Batman is willing to go along with it! But are we all so distracted by the gang war and return of James Gordon Jr that we’re overlooking the real threat here — the clever and cunning conundrums of Cluemaster?!
Writers: James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Consulting Writers: Tim Seeley, John Layman and Ray Fawkes
Artist: Mikel Janin and Guillermo Ortego
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Steve Wands
I’m not going to lie: there are going to be a lot of people wearing glasses in this issue. Two of them start off the issue together, as the still-alive James Gordon Jr sits down for a chat with his dad. He remembers a phrase that dad used to describe Blackgate Prison – a “necessary evil”. That’s something worth exploring, perhaps, but instead of looking into dad’s history of neglect for the incarcerated (which would be a pretty good idea for a story, given that nobody is ever rehabilitated in either of the main holding cells in Gotham) Jr instead starts trying to big himself up. He’s all like “there’s a part of me in you, dad”, which unless Jim has a history of murdering family pets seems like a bit of a stretch. Swing and a miss, kiddo.
Our next glasses-wearer of note is Jason Bard, who is setting up Commissioner Forbes with faked evidence of Batman’s “munitions”. Forbes goes straight for it, because he’s an idiot. Does Batman even own munitions? He’s so careful not to ever kill anybody that surely this must just be a warehouse filled with baseball bats wrapped in bubble wrap. He gives Bard permission, and Bard decides to bring along Vicki Vale with him on the ride-along. She’s busy persuading her own dim boss to let her go, figuring that “Batman’s true identity” is probably a bigger story than whatever’s going on with Gordon’s trial.
He approves, but says that if this leads nowhere, she’ll be fired. Remember that, readers, because this is going nowhere and yet he’ll never follow up on that thread.
Joey the feckless intern shows up in a snappy blue shirt – get you, Joey! Throwing away your $3 an hour on nice clothes, looking all fancy and that – to say that apparently someone online is theorising that the city is about to get totally rocked by Cluemaster. Vicki treats that as you’d expect her to, but it’s weird because I would’ve thought the show-off gimmicky supervillains would always be good for a headline or two.
Obviously Steph was the one posting on the forum, from her makeshift home in the back of Gotham public library. She gets a call from I’m guessing her roommate, who opens a parcel and promptly gets blown up. Jesus.
Back at Blackgate, Jr is still trying to push the idea that Jim is secretly evil and loved blowing up the train that one time. He stares at his dad, and Mikel Janin draws Jr reflected in Jim’s glasses as Jim is reflected in Jr’s glasses; he must be a major glasses fan apparently. Apparently Jr has arranged for Jim’s cell to open at a specific time, and is convinced his dad will try to escape when it happens. Jr really does NOT know his dad.
Bard’s operation comes together, but he’s not arresting Batman – he’s arresting Falcone’s men. It’s all pretty easy, because the last thing the criminals were expecting was for Gotham’s police to do the bare minimum work required. What a strategy from Jason! Vicki overhears one of the crims literally on the phone saying “I thought you’d paid off all the cops, Falcone!” Smart move there, feller, yell at your boss AND implicate him in front of the woman wearing a giant “MEDIA” vest. I’m guessing he won’t be getting bailed out like all his quiet mates.
Batman, who has similarly also never seen the police do anything but thank him for a job well done and some villains handily tied to a lamppost, is impressed with Bard as well. Maybe he should give Bard a bird-related moniker and costume – he could be Ostrich or something. How about Big Bard? Jason has even more in mind, however, and remembers to bring Vicki along when he gets back to the station. Forbes obviously wants to free all the prisoners, but Vicki asks if she can quote him on that and he has to change his mind. Big Bard strikes again!
Red Robin heads to his nest for another chat with his computer, which isn’t weird at all – but this time Harper is following him again, and she finds out that he’s going to fly to Japan to go track down an ex-KGB super-scientist. He also asks the computer if it knows where Harper is right now, and the computer lies to him. Girls looking out for other girls, that’s always nice to see.
Big Bard and Vicki Vale are sat up on the roof of Gotham PD, ready for another success – they tap Forbes’ phoneline and catch him dealing with Falcone. Busted! What a great day this has been for Jason Bard, Vicki Vale, and… wait, what’s that you say? Cluemaster actually did have a plan and Vicki ignored it, and now there’s been a massive explosion which none of the police were around to prevent? Well that certainly puts a bit of a downer on things, now you mention it. Looks like the real winner of the issue was… Cluemaster?
Batman Eternal: a true Land of Opportunity.
39 more 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.