The creative conglomeration on “Batman Eternal” #42 finally gives readers a chance to see Bluebird in action as Harper Row dons mask and suit to combat the Mad Hatter and his impressive nanotech. The best thing about this issue is, regardless of experience soaking in the realm of “Batman Eternal,” this issue stands alone quite strongly.
Kyle Higgins handles the script for the story conceived by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. In doing so, he does a fine job giving the reader a play-by-play of the events as Harper executes them. Her narration is contained in Steve Wands’ word balloons, which decorate the panels nicely, avoiding intrusion over action. Wands provides a dynamic range of styles in the balloons, from embarrassed comments under the breath to groggy wake-up mumbles. Higgins ensures the reader has some fun along the way with some results hitting Harper and a joke about the utility belts. Higgins balances character development, drama and action nicely and even has room to take readers along for a check-in with Stephanie Brown.
The art is divided between Jed Dougherty, Goran Sudzuka and Roger Robinson, the latter of which handles Stephanie Brown’s moments. With scenes set in the Brown household, Robinson’s work is less shadow intensive than the rest of the book, a fact colorist Lee Loughridge seizes, giving those panels warmth and light. Robinson does not have any costumes to contend with, just pure human emotions, and he does so masterfully. He could draw an entire comic of Stephanie Brown in calm conversation with her mother and it would be a smooth, entertaining read. As for the rest of the book, Dougherty and Sudzuka draw exactly the story that is prescribed and clearly invest some fun into the visuals. The artwork gets darker but Loughridge keeps the color lively, encouraging readers to stay upbeat throughout the issue. Dougherty leads it off with Bluebird leaping (sometimes unsuccessfully) across rooftops, while Sudzuka finishes off the adventures of Bluebird. Sudzuka has some fun scenes, including Harper’s discussion with the Hatter, which serves as the turning point in the issue.
Readers have been waiting for Bluebird to fly into action and, in “Batman Eternal” #42, she truly does, giving readers plenty to buzz about. Higgins and crew ensure this is comic book stays lively and smart, and they reward readers here for their time and attention. Bluebird begins her contribution to the legend of Batman in fine, fun fashion, offering readers a story filled with straightforward heroics and fisticuffs.