“Batman Eternal” #2 has an interesting position that most series don’t have to worry about quite so much. A first issue of a new series, of course, needs to have a big moment that makes readers come back for more, typically a month later. That second issue needs some follow-through, but at the same time the stakes are a little lower. The creative team still wants readers to return a month later, but you already piqued their interest for a second issue. In the case of “Batman Eternal” #2, though, that’s a little trickier due to it being a weekly series. Here, the series needs to not only deliver another strong hook, it needs to also show that it’s not more of the same; new tricks need to come out of the bag so that there’s enough variety to make you want to stick around for a weekly series.
So with all that in mind, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley and Jason Fabok had a tough second issue ahead of them. The good news is that so far, they’ve delivered enough of what that weekly second installment needs that the book should be in good stead. All in all, it’s an enjoyable comic that starts to expand the title’s reach.
While five writers are guiding this issue’s plot, it’s Snyder and Tynion IV who are helming this issue. The pacing is good; readers start to see Gordon’s arrest rippling through his allies in Gotham, with reactions from a number of heroes as well as Batman’s early attempts to exonerate him. At the same time, some new faces — both good and bad — begin to slide into the mix. That’s an important step, because if this was little more than “The Trial of Jim Gordon,” I think “Batman Eternal” would begin to lose readers before too long. Instead, the issue gives glimpses of a larger plot for which Gordon’s arrest is only the first step.
With only so many pages each issue, that does mean that not everything can automatically get carried forward week after week. On the down side, after his re-introduction to the DC Universe last issue, Jason Bard is nowhere to be seen in “Batman Eternal” #2. On the plus side, by virtue of being a weekly comic, it’s a tactic that is much easier to get away with. Being missing in an issue doesn’t mean a two-month gap, but rather just two-weeks. I like the idea of there being a regular shuffling in and out of the cast for “Batman Eternal,” something that also lends itself well to the idea of different writers regularly swapping out on the front seat.
One tactic that I really like about “Batman Eternal” is that instead of different artists rotating through issue-by-issue, it looks like we’ll be having artists drawing blocks of the series. Fabok is scheduled for the first four issues, and if you encountered his work on “Detective Comics” then you won’t be surprised that this book looks great. The scene with Doctor Phosphorus in particular is great, with the appearance of his foe having an unearthly, swirling feel. The angle of the view with just a slight tilt makes everything seem off-kilter, and the wisps and curls of the energy adds to the creepiness.
Likewise, the new investigator at the subway stop is excellently drawn. The slow shift to seeing his entire form, the look in his eyes as he stares down Officer Strode is arresting thanks to the intensity of the stare; you almost don’t even need Snyder and Tynion’s words to understand what Fabok is drawing here. When the final page reveal lands, there’s something about the slightly relaxed, at ease look of this character that sells it; this villain is so nonchalant that it makes Batman and Catwoman’s reactions that much more important.
“Batman Eternal” #2 has the series moving along well. It’s bringing in new faces, expanding the overall plot, and still moves at a good enough clip that it’s not going to drag when published weekly. So far, so good.