Everybody wants to know who is secretly pulling the strings behind everything, with Batman heading over to find the Riddler as part of his search for the answer. The villains of Gotham also want to know, which leads them them all being brought together for some kind of big reveal. Meanwhile, the journalists of Gotham fail to do anything in particular. It’s Batman Eternal #39!

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Consulting Writers: Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins, Tim Seeley and James Tynion IV
Artist: Felix Ruiz
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: John J. Hill

 

Julia briefs Batman on what he has left, which is a very quick conversation because he doesn’t have anything left anymore apart from the Batcave. I get the feeling this was a bit of a rush issue, because artist Felix Ruiz only gives bare bones on what that means – dinosaur head, a few bats, giant penny, etc. Nothing in too much detail here. The Batcave does have a massive interface with loads of computers on it, and about half of them have been switched off to save artistic time. One of the remaining computer screens has Tim Drake on it, who instantly solved that cipher which Batwing found and has been recurring through the series to date. “dads old news I place my bet on daughters” it says, which gives me the sinking feeling we have more Joker’s Daughter coming up. There’s her, Julia, Batgirl, Spoiler and Catwoman who are all playing out daddy issues at the moment, so admittedly there are a few choices to work through.

One day there’ll be a Batman Eternal with a female creative team, and on that dad everybody’s mums will finally start showing up.

Batman decides he now knows where the Riddler is, based on that clue, so I guess that’s where we’re off later on. In the meantime, Mr Freeze is being transferred to prison, which doesn’t last long because the SWAT team welcoming him at the front door fire on the van and kill the guards. Mr Freeze? More like Mr Free! Wait no, that’s Mister Miracle isn’t it. Um, why are we meant to think much of the villain who has already been apprehended at least three times within this series?

At the Gotham Gazette, Vicki Vale gets ripped apart by her editor over this whole Bard business. By this point we’re just meant to assume that everybody knows Bard is a villain, despite Vicki having nothing other than a sad origin story which doesn’t point to any wrongdoing whatsoever. So y’know, let’s just assume that Bard is now known to be a villain, and move on from here. Vicki is sad about her boyfriend being evil, and her editor riles her up to turn her sadness into anger and rage – because that’s the requirement of a good journalist! Rage! Get that rage into your piece and really turn that objective report into subjective ranting, Vicks. Suitably motivated by getting negged for a page, Vicki heads out to go report the truth, whatever that’s meant to be.

Batman arrives at an abandoned Casino, which turns out to be Riddler’s current base. There’s a bunch of screens showing news reports of people getting out of Gotham because the traffic is bad and sewage lines are being fed into the water main, and also that whole militia thing too. I’m sure it’s all some kind of political point being made by Fawkes, but I can’t parse it. Riddler has one of those cards inviting villains to the downfall of Gotham, but he’s placed it face-down and scribbled a question mark on it – he’s not the sort of person to take up an invitation like that, because he wants to be final boss rather than a pawn.

Riddler talks to Batman over tannoy, saying that the casino has a bullseye as a logo, with the arrow just off-centre, and this is a “little miss”, which is another way of saying “daughter”. Good lord, Ray Fawkes. That’s extremely reverse-engineered. Batman thinks Riddler is involved, but actually Riddler saw the invitation and decided to get out of town – too many variables, not enough reward. That seems like a good approach to Riddler, to be honest. I do think he’s a “final boss” sort of villain, just like Joker, and shouldn’t be used as a stepping-stone on the way to revealing a secret mastermind.

Picking up a clue in Riddler’s speech, Batman climbs up a nearby mountain and finds a little green box – just like in Arkham City!!

Meanwhile the other villains have all been sprung from their respective police convoys – this includes Signalman and Cluemaster’s group, for some reason – and Catwoman shows up as well. She’s been invited, the others all have no idea whats going on, which makes me empathise with them because what actually IS going on?

Following the trail of little green boxes, Batman quickly finds Riddler, who appears to be meditating in a lodge at the top of the mountain. He tries to out-peace Batman with a little talk of philosophy, which leads predictably to Batman grabbing him by the neck and demanding answers on who is behind everything in Gotham. If this issue doesn’t end with a big reveal I swear…

At the Gazette, Vicki and her editor are trying to piece everything together and tie literally every single thing going wrong in Gotham to one another. Best of luck.

Back at Villain Central, some Batman robots show up and murder all the SWAT officers – whoever now has control over all of Batman’s caches and equipment gives them over to all the villains to cause whatever chaos they want in the heart of Gotham.

Batman drags Riddler outside and says he’s going to take him back to the Bat-Cave so he can get some answers. Riddler, a bit panicked because Batman is basically acting insane here, presses a button on his cane and all the green boxes explode in tandem, causing an avalanche which takes them both out. Great, uh, plan, Riddler?

We finish this series of short scenes with Vicki and her editor, who are still trying to piece everything together in their office. The editor has some kind of lead with the rats in Gotham, but he’s cut short by the arrival of Jason Bard, who walks in and guns him down – followed, apparently, by Vicki herself. What is even going on anymore??

 

13 issues to go!

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