Last week, readers learned that Jason Bard had a plan to try and take down the Falcone crime family’s grip on Gotham City, and that Batman was going to play a part in it. In a weekly series, you might expect the follow-through to take weeks — if not months — later. So it’s very much to James Tynion IV, Mikel Janin, Guillermo Ortego and the rest of the writing crew’s credit that not only is the plan enacted the very next issue, but also that it’s so satisfying.
Bard’s plan makes up the core of “Batman Eternal” #13, and it’s a satisfying if simple enough plan. Tynion executes it well; after all, a plan doesn’t have to be crazily elaborate if something streamlined works just as well. There are some fun feints and surprises built in, though, and you can see why it works as well as it does. What’s also nice is that it’s not just the Jason Bard show; it pulls in Vicki Vale and makes her a concrete part of “Batman Eternal,” as well as (of course) Batman himself.
Alongside this week’s A-plot, we get the confrontation between Jim Gordon and his son James, as well as a darker turn for Stephanie Brown as she goes up against her Cluemaster father. Both of them are good additions, too. Jim versus James is a nasty little tale of James getting inside Jim’s head, as the two are facing off against one another in a prison cell. By way of counterpoint, it’s the father getting inside the head of the child with Stephanie Brown, and instead of the two being together it’s them being so far apart that a lure finally has to be unleashed. It’s continuing to shift Cluemaster from a joke into someone who’s dangerous and has to be stopped, even as it also continues the transformation of Stephanie from innocent daughter to (presumably) the Spoiler. It’s a good pace moving forward.
Janin works with Ortego this issue, and the duo turn out some beautiful pages. They handle the close-ups and tight quarters of the Gordon face-off well, shifting the viewpoint as to keep the reader from getting visually bored. The action sequences flow well too; I especially love Red Robin’s aerial somersault as he enters the Nest, and the showdown with Falcone’s gang is easy to follow and looks nicely tense.
“Batman Eternal” #13 theoretically hits the 25% mark for this weekly series, and it’s moving along quite nicely. We’ve had some real progress on some storylines, while others are continuing to gather steam. Tynion, Janin, Ortego and company are entertaining us week in and week out, and this is probably one of the strongest issues to date as everything surges forward. It’s a good a place as any to jump on board yourself and see what you’re missing.