So, for whatever reason, the second volume of Batman Eternal was noticeably thinner than the other two. I wouldn’t mind so much except all three books cost the same amount of money. So, boo!
With that out of the way, what happened in Volume 2?
It’s actually not that hard to see why DC divided the 52 issue, year long story into three volumes. Basically, the three volumes each cover a different phase of the story with certain ongoing plot points running throughout. Volume One was primarily focused on the gang war between Carmine Falcone and the Penguin. That ended with Penguin in prison and Falcone leaving Gotham to return to Hong Kong where apparently he already ran everything. Volume Two primarily focuses on one Bat-foe while an off-again, on-again Batman love interest/enemy is up to her own thing.
Let’s start with the latter first. Selina Kyle learns her father is not only alive, but he’s in prison (and Jim Gordon’s cellmate) and was once the head of the Gotham mob under the colorful, cat-appropriate nickname of “the Lion”. Now, her dad thinks he belongs in prison, but he does suggest she take his place as head of the city’s organized crime. Given how bad the city is right now, she actually ends the volume by deciding she is going to do just that. She’ll even get her first muscle in the form of Killer Croc.
But on the Batman front, he has his own issues. Alfred was injected with Scarecrow toxin and can’t stop seeing things. And then he disappears from the hospital. That means his daughter Julia has to take over Alfred’s duties in the Batcave, but it also means a possible mastermind behind all this crazy crap is revealed. Is it Hush?
OK, true confession time: I am not a Hush fan. I thought his first storyline was fine, but since then, I think DC has overused the guy. That’s particularly true during Paul Dini’s run. The impulse is to play Hush up as this great mastermind, and for some reason, I don’t see why this guy of all people should always be two steps ahead of Batman.
That said, Hush is used very well here. His central psychosis, wanting to supplant Bruce Wayne in every way, works well in this story, and the plot makes good use of his general knowledge of his childhood friend. Yeah, maybe it would be better if a bigger Bat-foe was behind the whole mess, but there’s a good case to be made for Hush here.
But it might not be Hush either. He’s just the most likely suspect for most of Volume Two.
Additionally, new Police Commissioner Jason Bard may be working for Hush. It doesn’t take Batman long to learn Bard is no ally after all, and even if the GCPD isn’t going after Batman as directly, Bard can still make life even more difficult for the Dark Knight.
Even in this volume, the series continues to move along nicely. The various plot threads are well-balanced, and even if there are one or two things I don’t much care for going on during all this, it’s still a celebration of 75 years of Batman. And that means we get some crazy stuff, like Alfred being forced into a team-up with Bane to escape a collapsing Arkham. This Alfred can fight, and Bane somewhat respects that. True, neither of those should probably be in Arkham (Alfred especially), but here we are.
Anyway, still no grade until I cover Volume 3, and that review will go up Friday.