Hush is back! And he’s immediately failed his mission! Batman makes some wunch noises, Catwoman crawls through a toilet, there’s an illegal lion fight and somebody gets bashed in the shin with a plunger. Tim Seeley’s back on scripting duties, and it’s Batman Eternal #23!

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Writer: Tim Seeley
Consulting Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Kyle Higgins and Ray Fawkes
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Derek Fridolfs
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterers: Steve Wands

Somewhere in Gotham City lies an arena where lions fight each other to the death, which I suppose we all should’ve seen coming. You can find anything in Gotham City if you look hard enough, on the proviso that what you’re looking for is almost unimaginably awful. There’s nowhere in Gotham giving out free chupa chups and a petting zoo. As two creatures fight each other to braying cheers, the boss brings in a baby snow leopard to the fight, which crawls out with a heartbreaking “mew?”

Catwoman is there, preparing to do some animal justice – this is a facet of your character I wish they’d do more with, it’s brilliant – but then in barges Tiger Shark, heralded by a minion who emphasises all the animal skins which went into the villain’s costume, in the process marking the guy out to be #1 on Catwoman’s future hit-list. It’s a tacky outfit too, dude. They start shooting up the place, including a moment where Tiger Shark shoots the baby leopard, prompting Catwoman to swing in, vow revenge, and sweep away with the leopard in her arms. This is the most invested in the series I’ve been to date.

Back at the Beacon, Zachary Gate is on hiw mobile having a chat with Hush, who is stood on the opposite rooftop. This is despite the fact Batman is still there on the roof with Gate, and full conscious – a fact Hush notes whilst watching the Dark Knight sock his accomplice full force in the jaw. Sometimes Hush despairs at the team he has assembled.

At her apartment we find that the snow leopard has died, which is unexpectedly brutal. Catwoman mourns for a second before Jade, the kid Batman/Croc rescued a few weeks back, appears behind her, having broken in. That’s Catwoman’s job! Gimmick infringement! Apparently Jade has been sent over by “him”, who wants Selina to nip into Blackgate and have a quick chat with him. “You can’t get into the prison by yourself” says the child to the cat burglar. She also makes a gay panic joke, I think? Eesh.

In the sewers, Killer Croc is still ripping apart the vampire creature things, whilst emoting and posing. He should be in the WWE. Meanwhile, Batman continues to beat up Zachary Gate, leathering him with a metal rod and making a pretty satisfying “wunch” sound effect. Lot of one-page cutaways going on in this issue.

The “him” referred to by Jade turns out to be Rex Calabrese, the newly-returned “lion”. They crawl out his toilet, ew, and she rounds on Rex for continuing to use children to help him do his dirty-work. Literal dirty-work, I guess. In the big moment of the issue, she punches him in the jaw and reveals… that he’s her father! Yep, bad news Jeph Loeb, because Catwoman’s dad is now canonically Rex Calabrese, and not Carmine Falcone. Should’ve tied up that mystery when you were given thirty issues to do it, Jeph! Now you’ve been overruled.

Jade smacks Catwoman with a plunger – because this is a Tim Seeley comic – and Selina pouts and prepares to jump back down the toilet and head home. Rex actually has a reason for wanting to talk to her though, which is a relief. With Penguin, Falcone, Rex and every other crime lord caught up in jail, he figures there’s a power vacuum which is ripping Gotham apart. Somebody needs to step in and take control, and he thinks that person is her. Yes! It’s almost time for Catwoman to step up and get written by Genevieve Valentine! It’s almost time for Best Catwoman, everybody!

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On the Beacon, Batman has won the fight with Gate and unmasked the guy. Gate is defiant, though, and it’s for a reason – the building was set up with “tuning forks” built into the structure, but now Batman has been able to halt the damage to the building itself, the residual energy has built up underground and it rips up and ripples outwards through Gotham as an earthquake, levelling all the buildings int he surrounding area. Selina and Jade only just escape the sewer as it hits them.

On the street, the civilians of Gotham collectively get on their phones to tell each other what just happened. They’re so engrossed that nobody seems to care about the dude dressed like a mummy who is wandering around shaking his fist at the sky and generally ranting. Hush wanted the tower to fall, but changes his mind and decides he actually never wanted the tower to fall. It’s actually best that it’s the only building left standing, because it represents how alone the Wayne family are. Or something.

Listen: Hush has never made sense and it’s only fair that he continues to not make sense here. It’s the only respectful use of the character.

Catwoman heads over to dump her newly found urchin on Lesley Thompkins. As it’s hard to know how old Thompkins is meant to be at any one moment in time, John Kalisz takes the highly intelligent step of colouring her hair blue – it ain’t grey, and it ain’t black, and Lesley could be anything from thirty to sixty as a result. Tip of the cap, Kalisz.

We head back to the conversation Selina had with her dad, which doesn’t add much new to the story other than to point out something Selina has that nobody else can claim: a famous surname. If she chose to reclaim her father’s surname, she could rally his troops and create a new organisation under her control. She tells him this is “boring”, although it was probably pitched more interestingly at the DC writer’s summit that year.

The issue ends with a bit of Bard, who confronts the Mayor and tells him that his leadership has led Gotham to basically get almost completely annihilated on a frequent basis. He mentions the earthquake, the infection in the Narrows (remember that story point??) and the crime war as factors. Curiously, he also says “and by the way Arkham Asylum is haunted at the moment”, which is a bold thing to raise to the Mayor. His conclusion? That Gotham City needs to be declared as under a state of martial law.

Yeah, that’ll really teach those ghosts who is boss.

 
29 issues to go!

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