Right! So once you’ve caught the man responsible for all the supernatural horror in Gotham, what do you do next? Take him to a cemetery where he’s at his most powerful so you can make sure he doesn’t do anything else? You might think that sounds stupid – but that just means you’re no match for Batman’s superior tactics, it seems. It’s Batman Eternal #45!

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Consulting Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Tim Seeley and Kyle Higgins
Artist: Javi Fernandez
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: Steve Wands

Oh no! Batman is being confronted by the literal ghosts of his parents, I think! This is either canonically his actual parents raised from the dead, or these are spirits that have randomly assumed the form of Martha and whatever dad’s name is (Thomas? Henry? something like that) just to screw with him. Mum and dad race up out the ground and swarm at Batman, dressed in their finest Zorro-watching evening outfits. Behind them is some rando emo bloko, who seems to be responsible for it somehow. Wasn’t there a character who showed up years ago during this series and was involved in this somehow? It looks like he’s back, if so.

Batman tries to shrug off his canonical parents being disappointed with him – there’s an essay to be written about this, y’know – and notes that some other ghosts have risen and are trying to pull the unconscious Milo apart. The emo kid encourages them on, calling himself “Martin Ware” and saying that Milo turned him into somebody who can revive the spirits of the dead… somehow. Batman immediately hones in on the situation like “great, let’s ignore my parents and punch this dude instead”, so maybe Martin should’ve considered his tactics ahead of time a little deeper. To prove his poor judgement in character, he appeals to Batman’s sense of empathy, and gets smacked round the face for his troubles. That seems to switch off the ghosts.

Milo is having a heart attack though, and the police start swarming on him. They want him to surrender, but Batman is never more determined than when he has to save the life of a serial killer. He grits his teeth, as is his wont.

At Luke Fox’s apartment – yay, Luke’s going to get his character arc rounded out! – things are getting very supernatural. The walls are bleeding, which at this point only serves to tick Batwing off. He ducks a flying coffee table and starts punching up the ghosts who’ve surrounded him. I wonder what happened to his roommate? Dead, probably. He then gets assaulted by some books, Mario 64-style, in a pretty sweet uppercut from artist Javi Fernandez. Very satisfying panel. As the ghosts surround Batwing and the cops surround Batman – I see the connection you’re trying to make here, Fawkes – Batman pulls out a flashbang and smashes it into the ground, blinding everyone round him. By the time the cops get up, Milo and Batman are gone.

Meanwhile, Batwing slices a ghost in half – again, pretty satisfying – and is greeted by James Corrigan, who has finally got back from his time in the sewers. Apologies are made and they team back up again. There’s a great page here where Batwing can finally talk about everything he saw and everything he’s gone through, and it’s honestly a shame that “Batwing: Supernatural Batman” didn’t become more of a thing following this series. You can see Ray Fawkes trying to spin it out, and it almost works, but the material here isn’t quite enough to make this more than just a neat aspiration. Maybe in a few years.

Batman calls them at just that time, with Milo his captive. Apparently there’s a book they have to exorcise, or something, and that’ll stop the ghosts and stuff. Don’t question it too hard.

They meet up at the nearest cemetery, there’s no shortage of them in Gotham,and Milo and Corrigan head off into the background panels to have a quick chat. In the foreground, Batman finally checks up on Batwing, which he should’ve done a very long time ago. As they’re starting to bond, though, Corrigan suddenly cracks Milo round the head – ANOTHER satisfying panel! I’m enjoying this one – as apparently Milo started trying to cast some kind of spell or something. Things get very spiritual and supernatural in Corrigan’s subsequent explanation of what Milo did, and honestly I tune out pretty quickly on this stuff. There’s a dream tree and a bird and Batman gets a theory based on the fact that there was a bird? Who knows.

In simpler parts of the story, Steph Brown and Harper Row are sat down, having a chat about how Bruce Wayne is definitely evil. Did Hush never make the news? You’d think he’d be famous “the man who turned his face into Bruce Wayne’s face”. Steph is convinced he’s the one pulling all the strings for all the other minor villains, but then she tries to drop a smoke capsule whilst telling her story and ends up with a taser pointed in her face. I really like how these two characters are balanced against one another – they’re about on the exact same level, so the power shifts from panel to panel.

Harper leaves Steph in the flat by herself, with a primed gun aimed at her face in case Steph tries anything.Harper is going to go talk to Batman and try and get things levelled out “I think you’re pretty cool. And I don’t want you to die” she says, activating shippers around the internet in the process.

Next we head back to the Batcave once more where Alfred is taking a nap. Julia and Batman have a chat about who could be pulling the strings. It’s not the Court of Owls, he thinks, and not Riddler… hey! WHATEVER HAPPENED WITH RIDDLER? Last we saw he got caught by Batman, but he never gave up what he knew or who was behind everything! Is that going to be resolved??

Anyway, Batman is trying to look at bigger-picture villains, and I can already tell exactly where he’s headed. Sure enough, his search on the computer brings back a bunch of Arabic-inspired company titles, and hell, looks like we’re all headed off to go find out what Ra’s Al Ghul is up to!

 

7 issues to go!

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