First published in April 2014 by DC Comics
DC’s previous attempts at running a weekly comic had mixed results: “52” was properly entertaining and almost managed to wrap itself up admirably, but the subsequent “Countdown” series crashed and fell apart almost immediately, to consistently hilarious effect. Undeterred, however, the company decided that they should give the whole thing another try – or hey, how about three simultaneous tries, in which two of the weekly comics actually crossed over with one another partway down the line?
Yeah, that was the thinking that led to Batman Eternal, the first of the weekly comics DC launched in 2014 and the only one which stood (mostly) by itself. DC decided to install the present Batman writer, Scott Snyder, in a ‘showrunner’ role, conducting a story which would also be told by a writers’ room including James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Kyle Higgins and Tim Seeley, with a rotating series of artists which at various points included Jason Fabok, Dustin Nguyen, and Ian Bertram. It was a very male-dominated line-up of creative talent, which would later be attempted to diversified by the sequel series, “Batman and Robin Eternal”.
Running for 52 weeks, the series was created originally as a way to celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary in 2014, and attempted to change several aspects of Gotham forever. Amongst the more notable additions were the introduction of Spoiler, Stephanie Brown, back into DC Comics, along with a development of Harper Row, a young girl who had previously appeared in issues of the main Batman series of the time. Several characters were killed off, changes were made to Arkham Asylum, and Catwoman was spun off into a noteworthy new direction which sadly didn’t last anything like as long as it should’ve.
It was trying to take some risks, basically. And as is tradition when DC launch something which is meant to be risky and make some grand changes to their comics, they started everything off with a single image:
Which hides several clues to the content of the story in plain sight – you’ll probably pick up a few of them, like the cuffs that Gordon’s wearing, or Alfred’s straitjacket. Others are more oblique, and only become apparent once you read the series. Which… hey, let’s go do that now.
Only 52 issues to go!