"Batman Eternal" #7 -- by the writing team of Tim Seeley, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes and John Layman with Emanuel Simeoni on art -- is an explosion-packed, game-changing issue that keeps up the pace of its predecessors and continues to expand the scope of the story. With so many cooks in the creative kitchen, "Batman Eternal" could have easily felt like the disjointed result of many minds, but Issue #7 is both a thematically and structurally smooth transition from Issue #6. While the leap from #5 to #6 was (perhaps intentionally) jarring, the move from #6 to #7 is easy and consistent. It all feels like the same story, and more importantly, that story seems to be building to a fierce crescendo.
"Batman Eternal" isn't just bringing in all of the Batverse's heroes. It's also using the huge cast of villains to put together a complex chessboard of a conflict. The Penguin and Catwoman take center stage in this issue, while Falcone makes one of his biggest moves yet, and it's executed with a strong sense of escalation. This series promised big changes, and having taken down Commissioner Gordon on the lawful side, "Batman Eternal" now begins to pull apart the structure in Gotham's underworld.
It seems like everyone in Gotham has a part to play, and with far-reaching concepts like this, it's not uncommon to feel that it's all just one big crossover setup. However, Seeley, Snyder and Tynion have smartly avoided assigning primacy to one storyline. There are no clear "subplots" here, and it makes the incorporation of each character feel meaningful, rather than part of a calculated sales plan. Something has to give eventually, but I'm enjoying how much this plot feels like a web instead of a pyramid. Perhaps most reassuringly, it feels that there will be enough plot to sustain a weekly publication schedule. The ideas keep coming, even 7 issues in.
That said, with many moving plotlines comes stagnation in one or two. The Gordon storyline doesn't move along much, and each individual storyline isn't actually moving forward that quickly. However, Seeley's structure works cleverly to disguise this by switching rapidly between characters and locations. With 60 issues to fill, "Batman Eternal" does need to pace itself judiciously, and an issue-level structure that switches scenes so quickly allows it to do so without the reader catching on too much. This is not to say that a lot doesn't happen here -- far from it -- but it does look like "Batman Eternal" will be devoted to second-act action for the time being.
Emanuel Simeoni and Blond perform admirably on art, playing a crucial part in keeping Issue #7 consistent with the rest of "Batman Eternal." It's not the most polished issue so far, and some of the perspectives are strangely chosen, but it's effective and dynamic. Blond's background coloring in particular created some great panel-to-panel jumps that amped the pace without needing a single extra word or brushstroke.
With so many plot points, power moves and explosions, "Batman Eternal" #7 is a blockbuster going gangbusters. It accomplishes exactly what it needs to and paves the way for an intriguing Issue #8.