Home > Comics, Reviews > Comic Review: Batman Eternal #21: Meet the men behind the curtain

Comic Review: Batman Eternal #21: Meet the men behind the curtain

Batman Eternal #21 Jason Fabok
Everything seemed to be falling into place for Batman and crew, meaning it was about time someone pulled the rug out from under them.

That someone is James Tynion IV, who scripts an exciting Batman #21 with artwork from Jason Fabok.

Tynion and Fabok fill a pivotal point in the Batman Eternal saga, tearing apart what resolution we thought we were about to get, and opening up a whole new avenue of excitement ahead. That comes thanks to two revelations, one that’s kind of expected, and another that may truly gobsmack you.

The first comes with Bard, whom Batman has always said he never quite trusts. And his instincts were right, of course, because once Bard gets the commissioner’s job and the girl (Vicki Vale), he’s revealed to be in league with Cluemaster and the rest of the dark and shadowy miscreants.

But the head miscreant? He’s the real surprise – if indeed he is the big boss of it all. Either way, spoiler alert: let’s keep this hush-hush, yes?

The reveal comes at Wayne Manor, where Alfred is dying to tell his daughter, Julia, that he’s not just a boring old butler – he’s assistant to the world’s most badass vigilante.

He never gets the chance though, because the manor’s alarms go off before he can say anything. Alfred locks Julia in the panic room and threatens to shoot the intruder, then gets jumped by a big bulky guy with some fear toxin in a syringe.

And this is where Fabok really shines. He plays out the dramatic beats perfectly, giving you a few shots of the shadowy figure struggling with Alfred, and offering just enough facial detail that you think you might be able to figure it out. Then, in the splash page, he gives it to you: it’s Hush.

That, of course, raises plenty of questions going forward, including where Hush fits into the New 52 continuity. Is this his re-introduction, or is his past still part of continuity?

Here’s hoping he’s got a fresh slate, but either way, we’ve got 29 more issues to explore this storyline, and this has to be the most exciting villain we’ve seen yet.

There are other little beats in this story, too, mostly involving Falcone returning to Hong Kong and Batman giving Bard the evidence to clear Gordon (which he won’t use).

Overall, it’s executed quite well. Fabok’s Batman is very reminiscent of Jim Lee’s, and there’s one small panel in particular – it’s just a close-up on Batman’s glaring eyes – that sticks in my head after reading. Tynion’s script clicks along well, and the only nitpick I can make is that Alfred sounds a little American at one point, when he ends a sentence with “you know?”

Batman Eternal #21 pivots well off the conflicts we’ve seen in the last 20 issues and sets up the next leg of this journey as a must-read.

8 out of 10

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