Villains are staking their claim on Gotham City, but inside Blackgate another battle is starting up over the life of Jim Gordon. Can he stay alive long enough to get his pardon sorted, or will he get stabbed up by Penguin and his crew? One option is a lot more likely than the other! It’s Batman Eternal #48!

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Consulting Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Tim Seeley and Ray Fawkes
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: John J. Hill

Things start off at the mayor’s office this week, as two massively corrupt bros meet up for a hangout. Jason Bard is begging for Jim Gordon to be released from prison, for some bizarre reason I don’t quite understand. With Gotham about to be attacked by a bunch of villains/attacked already by a bunch of villains (it’s unclear what’s going on: Scarecrow was stopped before he could do anything, Bane is reduced to cage-fighting, and yet apparently Gotham is on fire for some reason) he wants a real policeman put back on the streets to do his job for him? Mayor Hady is reluctant to help because he’s mega-corrupt, but Bard says he has the evidence which exonerates Gordon of that mass-murder from the start of the issue. Weird how Batgirl didn’t get to be involved in this part of the story!

At Blackgate, however, things are stacking up a bit for Gordon. Penguin gets a call from a mysterious benefactor who promises to get him out of prison and return everything that Falcone stole from him. Where did Falcone go, anyway? Even as Bard starts to negotiate for Gordon’s release, this mysterious caller asks Penguin to go kill Gordon in exchange for his own freedom. And Hady, sweet corrupt Hady, refuses to release Gordon because it would look bad in an election year to release a beloved police officer who was framed for a crime. And with that, Hady promptly jumps on a helicopter out of Gotham, a smart move considering the death-rate for Gotham mayors.

Whilst Penguin starts his plan to sneak out of his cell and go kill, presumably, Gordon; Bard grabs Hady and threatens him into signing Gordon’s release papers. It’s all a race against time! Sure, but you’ve had about forty issues to have had this all sorted out by now, Jason, so maybe don’t get too panicked about the timings here. The prison cell doors open up and our third or fourth Blackgate riot in the course of the series begins.

Meanwhile, the Bat-Fam start facing off against the various villains they were randomly allotted earlier. Some of them have a pretty easy job – like Batwing, who is idly blowing up drones, so all that practice on Duck Hunt is finally paying off – but then you have Red Hood fighting against a cyborg Bane?! Bluebird having to fight Mr Freeze also seems like quite a hefty step up for her so soon into her superhero career. Unless ice conducts electricity? Maybe this is an easy battle too, actually. If only I’d paid attention in physics lessons.

As they go about their missions, Hush struts around in the Batcave, having a grand ol’ time. He watches on as the Bat-Fam realise that the villains have all been powered up with WayneTech – well, except for Joker’s Daughter, who literally just has a hatchet. Batgirl should dispose of her in seconds, this being an honest battle. I still can’t get over the fact that Red Hood is in a cage fight against a cyborg Bane, though. Oh Bane, you poor monster, whatever happened to you to cause all this?

Just in case you thought that battle was too unfair, Hush steps in to make sure things are even more overbalanced, by hacking into the Bat-Computer’s systems and shutting off all their tech. Red Hood’s weapons all explode, Harper, Batgirl and Batwing all lose their comms systems at once and get hit with static, and Red Robin… well, something happens to him as well, but I can’t tell what. I thought Tim was the only one of the team to refuse to use Batman’s tech because he preferred his own? He shouldn’t really be affected by Hush here.

One person who is still on the comms system is Julia, however, who swims back to shore. Realising what I just realised – that Red Robin uses his own tech rather than the Batcave’s systems, she races off to his lair to go use his systems instead. Smart! I do like Julia, but it’s a shame that she’s had to spend so much of this run tied up in Alfred’s old role. She’s way more interesting when she’s off in the field, but I’m also not sure that anybody has used her since this run, which is a shame.

At the airfield, Batman is obviously walking off that plane crash from last issue. He climbs the fence and steals a jet, leaving behind an “IOU” sign, which is pretty funny.

Spoiler makes her way into Vicki Vale’s office, and steals my heart by calling her “dense”. She’s been looking through Vicki’s files and has realised that the reporter has all the pieces of story she needs to pull this whole series together and reveal what’s been going on – but of course Vicki, useless as she is, hasn’t done anything about it yet. Vicki doesn’t want to incriminate Bard, ultimately, which doesn’t seem to track with her character over the last few issues Then again, nothing about Bard in this series has made any kind of sense at all, so at this point maybe we should just accept that.

Just as Spoiler starts asking how Cluemaster is involved in all this, her dear old dad shows up in a helicopter and drags her out the building with a grappling hook. Yikes. As she flies out the window, she drops a USB stick, which Vicki picks up.

Batman flies back into Gotham to hear about multiple issues happening all at once – Mr Freeze, Bane, Blackgate. Which will he stop first?

At Blackgate, Jim Gordon is right in the heart of the riot, protecting everyone and taking on everyone. He gets surrounded by a few rioters, but they’re pushed to one side by a new team who are determined to make sure Gordon doesn’t get out of this alive: Penguin and his gang, which includes an absolute unit of a man with a giant tattoo on his chest. Who is the tattooed man? Sorry, I mean to say: how will Jim get out of this one??

 

4 issues to go!

 

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