Why Did Batman Eternal Take 21 Issues to Introduce Its True Mystery?
Last week, Batman Eternal finally revealed who the mastermind of the whole series truly was. This revelation massively changed the series, and begs the question. Why did these Batman writers wait so long to reveal it?
In case you haven’t been reading DC Comics lately. Batman Eternal is a Batman focused weekly comic book series. The series stars several Batman characters as they each deal with a problem or situation that arises in Gotham. Issue one centered around Commissioner Gordon shooting an unarmed man and causing a massive train accident and loss of life. Which seemed at the time, to be the main mystery. Who caused Gordon to hallucinate? Who would benefit?
MAJOR BATMAN ETERNAL SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT FORWARD
Initially, it seemed that Carmine Falcone was to blame for Gordon’s downfall. He hadn’t been seen in Gotham for five years, and he was ready to take back his territory. The Penguin was ready for Falcone to move back in. So they began a gang war with Gordon’s storyline stuck in the middle.
Soon, we’re introduced to Detective Jason Bard, who initially seems to be our reader’s perspective character. More storylines pile on top of each other: Red Robin fighting the nanobots, the Spoiler and her father, plus Batwing and The Spectre fighting in Arkham Asylum. These storylines while being engaging do little to nothing to move the initial mystery of issue one forward. While I understand a weekly series need to have a rotating series of plots so readers will keep coming back issue after issue. There still needs to be a momentum that moves the series forward. This is something that 52, one of DC’s previous weekly series excelled at.
Batman Eternal #21 released last week had the reveal that Jason Bard has now become the new commissioner. Not only that, but he is the true villain of the series! Say what!?! Batman gives him the only evidence that he has gathered in twenty one issues; a thumb drive containing some information that was gathered by Batgirl that will clear Gordon. It took Batman twenty one issues to get only this one piece of information. Batman solved the Holiday murders in less than 13 issues, and that was way more complicated a mystery than this one.
So now that the mystery has been revealed you might be asking yourself just what is the deal with this article anyway? Well, I was truly surprised by the Jason Bard as the villain revelation. But, I was fairly bored with everything that Batman Eternal had given me up to that point. I liked the characters. I liked the situations, but there seemed to be a lacking of dramatic tension. What some would call a true mystery. Now, with Bard being the true mastermind and working with the villain The Architect, I feel there is a real thrust to the story. One that has been missing for the past twenty issues.
Let’s think about it this way, Batman Eternal has been confirmed to be published for about 60 issues. Making this chunk, issues one through twenty, the first act of the story. By looking at the framing of Gordon as the inciting incident, it means that very little happens in the first act of this story.
If you compare the first twenty issues of 52 to Batman Eternal, it’s very clear which series was more planned out. By issue 20 of 52, Black Adam got married, Booster Gold died, the mystery of Supernova was well underway, the secret scientist island had been revealed, and Lobo had shown up. Plus, that’s not even half of it. 52 moved and rocked at a lightning pace. Whereas Batman Eternal seems to be plodding.
Why is that? Is it DC’s goal to pad each act for a trade? Solicitations reveal that in November we will receive the first act of Batman Eternal in a nice trade. Or do the writer’s not know where they are going with the story? So are they slowing everything down to make the story elements last? I’m not certain.
Should Batman Eternal have introduced it’s main mystery sooner? I think so. I think the series would have benefited if we had gotten the reveal around issue ten. Imagine if the series had a new mind altering reveal every ten issues? That would make for a very strong weekly series, indeed. Now, this article is not a comic book site writer’s attempt to tell other writer’s how to do their job. It was simply an article to express my excitement over the new mystery, and my dissatisfaction of why it didn’t happen sooner.
So, you got me, Batman Eternal, I’m back in and I’m reading every issue. Just please don’t make me wait another twenty issues until the mystery moves forward again. I might just leave Gotham for good, and not read the rest.