One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about “Batman Eternal” is how well the series has gotten about shifting characters and plots in and out of the spotlight from week to week. Just last week I was thinking, “We haven’t seen Jim Gordon in a while.” Lo and behold, this week’s “Batman Eternal” #12 brings him back into center stage as his trial begins. But as you’ll quickly see upon reading the issue, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin have a lot more up their sleeves.
In fact, several characters move back into the spotlight. It’s nice to see Red Robin getting a larger role here, as well as the return of Harper Row. What’s especially interesting with the latter is that while many have talked about her being a possible new Robin, the events of this issue make me wonder if she’s in fact slated for an entirely different (and currently vacant) role in Bat Family history? Jason Bard gets a lot of attention here too, and Tynion does a good job of selling him as not just a good cop, but an extremely competent one as well. He’s referred to as someone similar to Jim Gordon, but what’s nice is that we’re shown this rather than merely told.
More importantly, it feels like everything is still moving forward. Plots both big (a potential plan to stop the gang war with Batman at ground zero) and small (Alfred’s relationship with his estranged daughter) have some good developments here. I can’t imagine a story of this size playing out in a monthly comic, and getting these bursts of action on a weekly basis has just the right pacing.
It’s nice to see Janin here this week, before he heads over to help launch the new “Grayson” series. (Cleverly, there’s also a six page sneak preview in the back of this week’s DC comics.) His art is strong as ever, although it feels like he’s tweaked his style a bit between “Justice League Dark” and here. There are less fine lines and details, and more of the smooth, open look that Jason Fabok brought to the first batch of “Batman Eternal” issues. There are a lot of moments that work well under Janin’s pen, without a doubt. On the double-page spread for pages 6-7, Red Robin’s body is positioned perfectly; not only does it feel like he’s gliding through the air, but it’s done in a way that brings you from the bottom of the panels on his left to the top of the panels on his right, as you move from foot to wingtip. It’s smart usage of the medium.
“Batman Eternal” #12 is another solid, fun comic in the series. It’s depending trucking along at an above-average level, and that’s a real victory for a weekly comic. Bat-fans should definitely be reading this series.