The Batmobile is crashing to its doom, and there’s no escape for Batman unless someone can think of a convenient last-minute escape plan. What are the chances of that though? Jason Bard has had his shot… now it’s Batman’s turn! Wait, wrong comics franchise. It’s Batman Eternal #36!
Writer: James Tynion IV
Consulting Writers: Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins, Ray Fawkes and Tim Seeley
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Steve Wands
We start off at Robin’s Nest, because this is a James Tynion IV issue and he’s the only one who remembers that Tim Drake and Harper Row are meant to be going through this whole thing right now. Something to do with nanobots and a cyborg monkey, if I remember correctly, but it all feels so long ago. Harper is sat at a futuristic hospital bed with her brother, who is still unconscious after vomming up a bunch of bright blue robots. It seems that they are all still out there, the bots, just hopping from child to child for no reason. I can’t remember anything about this storyline, to be honest – thankfully neither do Tim or Harper, and apparently the villain behind all this is still out there somewhere. Mad Hatter, possibly?
Harper tells an anecdote about watching Tim Drake in the shower, which is charming, and leads to him summing her up to the control centre. He’s only just noticed that GCPD blew up two skyscrapers in the City and that Batman is currently flying out a building on his way to a firey death, so that suggests Tim forgot to let his iOS update overnight. You’ve got to leave your systems in a wi-fi area if you want them to keep sending through timely notifications, Tim!
Tim does the manly thing, which is to abandon Harper, refuse to let her help, and drive off on his motorbike. You’ve learned so much from Batman, Tim.
Back to the Batmobile, which is crashing to Batman’s doom. Julia has a panic about what to do – being British, she realises she should just pull a Warren Ellis last minute twist, and enters the password “Blue Rose” into her computer. A sleeping Alfred smiles at the very thought of Tula Lotay’s artwork.
So the Batmobile still explodes though, and Jason Bard is hugely smug about it. Everyone else is shocked – Maggie Sawyer is stood there with a look on her face like “one day a female creative team will let me be a character in one of these stories, and when that happens you damn well know I’m going to stop this sort of macho nonsense from happening”. As it is, she’s silent and Harvey Bullock gets to walk off sadly, after telling Bard how disappointed everybody is in him. One day, Maggie.
Backstory time! Vicky Vale, whose name I keep misspelling in these recaps, is in the bar, hearing the origin of Big Bard from a bartender. It seems that in detroit there was a vigilante inspired by Batman, and who put on a costume and went out trying to solve crimes. He was useless at it, though, and one day he smashed into a drug deal going down just as Jason Bard and his then-partner, another redhead called Jodie, were in the process of stopping it. The vigilante’s arrival caused a distraction which led to Jodie’s death (and the vigilante’s death), with only Bard getting out of the room alive.
So there you go: quick origin, thank goodness we got it all out the way in just one page. I couldn’t have taken a whole issue of that, even if it had been written by James Tynion.
Anywho, Bard is sat in the bar immediately after the shootout, watching the news that night about Batman, and complaining. Hush puts one hand on Bard’s shoulder and offers to buy him a drink, and there you go, minion o’clock.
Vicky’s reaction to all this is bizarre, because we’ve not heard anything particularly bad here. Bard is annoyed that Batman inspired other vigilantes and this caused the death of his partner – pretty reasonable. A charismatic guy offered to help him advance up in the force to stop this from happening again – okay. Bard is now trying to stop Batman, who in fairness is still being blamed for the explosions round the city – so all in all, on the surface Bard is pretty blameless here. The bad stuff is that he’s working with Hush and that he set up Jim Gordon, but Vicky doesn’t know either of those two things, or that Jason is currently trying to murder Batman. So…
So she decides he’s straight-up evil, and has been lying to her. When he calls her up she yells at him, saying that he’s been using her (wasn’t she also using him?) and brings up Jodie’s name, which is unfair. She dumps him over the phone, and it’s amazing — this scene should’ve been satisfying, but it’s weirdly disappointing because it pivots to quickly towards Jason’s point of view. Vicky comes off so badly throughout this series.
Anyway, Batman teleports onto the roof or something and punches Bard in the mouth. How did he survive? Part of the car detached into an escape pod and he flew off to safety, apparently. The confrontation between Bard and Bat finally gets to start, with Bard recounting his life story again. Batman counters by saying that Bard spent so much time on this mission that he lost track of actually trying to stop crime in Gotham. Bard doesn’t accept it, and raises his gun to arrest Batman… only for the Bat-Fam to show up and put a stop to him. Tim, Babs and Jason all show up to have Batman’s back, awwww. They threaten Bard and then wander off. Job… done?
At the Batcave everyone has a catch-up and it’s nice. Even Alfred gets off his arse to make a joke about cucumber sandwiches, which reminds Batman that it’s time to go threaten Hush – who, remember, is in a cage in the Batcave still. Batman heads into the cage and Hush – who still has his bandages on? – makes a crack about the Batmobile being blown up. He does this because his cage is in FULL VIEW of the Batcave consoles. Batman punches Hush in the face only for Julia to then walk in and shoot him with a tranq, which seems much more effective. Perhaps it’s time to start carrying a gun arou-just kidding.
Tim thinks they’re almost at the end game, but Batman quickly lets him know there are still about four months left of this. They still need to work out the nanobots, who destroyed Arkham (wasn’t that Blackfire?) and who set up Jim Gordon. So, y’know, plenty of subplots still out there – he doesn’t even mention Stephanie Brown, who is… um… somewhere.
The Bat Fam head off on orders – and Batman tells Julia to go take the rest of the night off, although she has to clock back in at 6am. Eesh. They don’t mention the early mornings when they advertise how great it is to be a Robin. As she leaves, Batman turns to his computer and looks at a bunch of his villains, wondering if any of them were the one who was truly behind this.
And over in HIS hideout, Riddler has the same photos – and a few extra. He’s already worked out who is behind all this, and he decides that it’s time to have a word with Bruce and enigmatically hint at what’s really going on. Yay! Riddler Time is coming!!!!
16 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.
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