With a jaw dropping first page (actually the end of the whole Batman Eternal story), Batman Eternal #1 goes full throttle from the beginning and never lets up on the gas. Scott Snyder and James Tynion have been writing about Batman and Gotham for the past three years, and their knowledge of the character and his supporting cast pays off. Batman Eternal #1 is as much a Jim Gordon or GCPD story as a Batman one, and Snyder and Tynion re-introduce young policeman (and previous Barbara Gordon flame) Jason Bard to the DC Universe using him as the unreliable POV character of this issue. The story seems like it is going to be experienced hero (Gordon) training a wide-eyed rookie (Bard), but the result is much darker and twisted. Snyder and Tynion plant a few surprise reveals in this first issue and make it an entertaining and occasionally haunting read. Jason Fabok’s art is a mix of grit and dynamism, and he utilizes large wide shots to show the big plot moments along with smaller panels to flesh out characters and show their reactions to the events of the comic. All the aesthetic ingredients for a well-drawn and written Batman comic are here: nights shots of the Gotham skyline, tense action sequences, and great use of light and shadow. (Mostly shadow.) Brad Anderson’s color augment the explosions and action sequences, which are twisted as well.
Most of Snyder’s Batman work in the New 52 has focused on Batman himself along with his “family”, especially Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson. However, Batman Eternal #1 turns its focus on the police force of Gotham City. The comics is even framed from their perspective. Batman seems larger than life in his scenes with Jason Fabok making his shoulders broader and his movements quicker. Brad Anderson uses lots of blacks in his costume making him even more “other” to the citizens and police of Gotham. But some of the best bits of Batman Eternal #1 are the interactions between Gordon and the GCPD members. Snyder and Tynion explore these characters and their attitudes towards Gotham, Gordon, and Batman while subverting a lot of police procedural cliches. One character might seem a little one note, but there is plenty of time to flesh out his back-story as he plays an integral role in the plot. There are a lot of “epic” moments in Batman Eternal #1, but Snyder and Tynion don’t reveal their whole hand. Only one member of Batman’s rogues gallery shows up,and he is inconsequential to the bigger story (for now). Snyder and Tynion use Batman Eternal #1 as the first step on a strenuous journey and make the comic new reader friendly without sacrificing plot or characterization or having an overabundance of exposition.
Snyder and Tynion’s story is full of twists, turns, and deconstructions of characters. However, Jason Fabok’s art gives their script great energy and makes sure the story keeps moving. His work is less macabre than regular Batman penciller Greg Capullo, but he succeeds at making Batman Eternal #1 a mini blockbuster from the pain and defeat of the opening page to Batman’s big entrance and some explosions that actually further the plot and aren’t just there to look cool. Fabok is also adept at staging characters to show their relationship with each other, which adds layers to the talking heads scenes. Like any good colorist, Brad Anderson orchestrates the emotional tone of each page ranging from fiery despair to pure chaos. These are not pretty explosions. Batman Eternal #1 is another great story from the Bat-side of the New 52 and is quite the opening salvo from Snyder, Tynion, Fabok, and company.