What does everybody want? A Deacon Blackfire origin story! When do they want it? In the seventeenth weekly issue of a Batman series! It’s Batman Eternal #17!

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Writer: Fay Fawkes
Consulting Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Tim Seeley, John Layman
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Derek Fridolfs
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterers: Dezi Sienty

Twas three years ago that Deacon Blackfire took to the stage to give a talk to a small group of people in a dusty church, and over the course of this issue we’re going to find out who he is and how he’s ended up posessing the body of a possible Greek God in the basement of a magic-inflicted Asylum. Best of luck with this one, Ray Fawkes.

In Arkham, Blackfire has Corrigan and Batwing surrounded, this time by more than four people, so you know Batwing is going to be really freaking out about his chances this time round. Now – it’s really hard to work this out, but what happens next is that Joker’s Daughter randomly runs out the tunnels, and we find out she’s holding someone’s severed head. Is that Batwing? What is that supposed to mean? Lord knows. The next scene is of his flatmate waking up and panicing that Luke is missing, so maybe this is a dream sequence? It’s actually impossible to understand what this sequence is about.

What we actually know is that in the Asylum, Batwing is still trying to use his tech to try and understand the magic stuff going on – and, frustrated, he finally just gives up and decides that the best tactic is to punch anything that looks like a villain. I mean… you won’t go wrong with that tactic, really!

In Tokyo, now they’ve dealt with all the tentacles, Harper and Red Robin get to have a friendly chat with Sergei the mad scientist. Tim is all business, but Harper is more concerned with taking a selfie with the cyborg monkey that’s running around, and who can blame her? In a moment Mike Mignola would admire, the monkey attempts to stick Harper with a syringe it suddenly pulls from nowhere, so she has to taser it, as is her wont. She threatens to taser is again if Sergei doesn’t help her out, and so he takes a look at the computer stuff which infected her brother, like, months ago.

Personally I’m seeing Harper as the villain, here. You shouldn’t just go around tasering monkeys, even if they do start it.

We return to the past for more of Deacon Blackfire’s early years. He has one of those inspirational speeches which American evangelicals like to delve into, but here his motivational quotes include sneaky references to the idea of actual physical rebellion, suggesting that “they” have taken over Gotham and turned it into an evil place, and the people have to rise against it. He then leaves, and we find out that…. in addition to the subtle stuff, he also has members of his congregation kidnapped and locked up in a basement, where he drugs them? This took a turn.

His best hostage, though, is Batman – tied up, drugged, bloody, and with the bat symbol ripped off his chest. Apparently he needs to be “redeemed” somehow.

In the present, we head back to Wayne Manor for some more father-daughter antics in the Pennyworth family. Julia is going through his old photos, which firstly reveal the devastating news that Alfred used to have a full-on beard, which changes everything. She’s upset that he chose to become a butler, which prompts him to remind her that his father and grandfather were both butlers to the Wayne family before him, which kinda suggests that Julia should be Damien’s butler one day. That’d be weird.

Back at the Asylum, where the fight continues. You have to appreciate Batwing’s logic here, as he says that despite these people looking like zombies, they still get knocked out when he punches them.

In the past, we see Deacon talking to his chained up Batman. His theory is that Batman wants the city to be filled with criminals so there’ll always be somebody for him to fight (not a bad theory) and that they’ll have to take out Batman before they can start redeeming Gotham as a whole. Batman taunts him, though, saying he’s scared to get his hands dirty – and as Blackfire picks up a convenient crowbar just lying around, Batman breaks free and starts causing chaos.

He sets the worshippers up against their minister, and they seemingly beat him, I think, to death? That doesn’t exactly disprove Blackfire’s theory about Batman, does it? I can’t imagine Batman just letting people beat Blackfire to death, but he has to have died in order for him to resurrect in the present, right? Because in the present, that’s exactly what he’s attempting. He says he’s returning “from Hell”, so Batman basically had a backstory where he allowed one of his enemies to get murdered. JUST SAYING,

Corrigan can’t turn into the Spectre, Blackfire is merging into Zeus’s body, and Joker’s Daughter is actually have a conversation with somebody who doesn’t exist. Batwing, meanwhile? He’s gone missing. Has he been decapitated then? Why don’t I know whether one of the main characters just got murdered or not?!

The Deacon gives all his followers bat wings, for some reason, and it seems like they have the power to go infect people and turn them into bat zombie creatures too? Corrigan has to watch on as everything goes to hell – and worst of all, bloody Ten Eyed Man pops back up again for no apparent reason. As the issue ends, Corrigan is dragged underwater, a dark baptism, and all is lost.

35 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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