This issue is once again great, but I have a couple of problems that I’ll address. It picks up right where we left off…more or less, since we actually start with a look at another possible death scenario for Bruce, care of the stuff Scarecrow put in his system. And again, is this something that happened in another book that I didn’t read, something that’s going to happen in Eternal, or just an off-panel event we never actually see? Regardless, the point is that, while the scenario is different in each of these visions, one thing that’s the same is the sound of cold, mocking laughter, coming from the city, asking Batman who or what he thought he was…Gosh, I wonder why you hear THAT, Bruce?
Anyway, snap back to reality, and Superman is still pummeling on Batman’s armoured suit, his ‘Super-buster’, if you will. Of course, seeing as how Batman can be INCREDIBLY paranoid, the suit’s armed with weapons meant specifically to take down Superman, with knuckles emitting red sunlight, and plasma shields meant to stop both heat vision and freeze breath. Unfortunately, he kinda failed to take into account that, because this is a suit meant to take on Superman, who generally has limits to what he’ll do, the best it can do against a Superman hell-bent on killing Bats is slow him down. So yeah, the suit gets trashed, but thankfully, Batman’s got one last trick up his sleeve: A gum-like substance laced with Kryptonite that he spits INTO HIS EYE. This seems to finally put Superman down long enough to get him and the rest of the League to A.R.G.U.S. for treating, but they’ll be out for nearly a week, meaning Joker is clearly planning something so big that Bruce would normally be forced to call on the team for help. And I suppose I should point out what bullshit it is that Batman managed to walk away with no lasting damage from fighting the Justice League, Superman in particular, but at least it wasn’t technically a victory. I’m sure that if the fight had continued, Superman probably would’ve killed Bruce. Also, God knows the ‘Super-buster’ (and yes, I’m going to continue to call it that) was probably worth a TON, and the chances of building another just like it aren’t great, so if something like this ever comes up again, Bruce is screwed.
After meeting up with Alfred and Julia, both of whom make it clear that they aren’t leaving Bruce to deal with this alone, Batman deduces that Joker must’ve gotten at the League when they were at a charity for the Gotham Children’s Hospital a month earlier, and that whatever he used was so slow and subtle working that none of them noticed until it was too late…and I kinda have to scratch my head at this point. No, not for the fact that the Joker venom was used on the Justice League, since we learn that different variations were used on each, and I can see how someone with enough knowledge of each member could pull this off. However, how could Joker know all of this? The only way he could pull it off is if he had access to the same information as Batman, but that would require hacking the cave computers, which would need knowing where to find them, which would then require knowing who Batman is, and we’ve already established that Joker doesn’t want to know who Batman is.
Eventually, Batman decides to check out Joker’s cell back at the ruined Arkham Asylum. Mr. Border, who’s been working at Arkham since Batman Annual #2 and has popped up here and there in story, shows up, saying that the patients at Arkham Manor are scared of Joker, and that he came to check the area out. Batman tells him he should really get back to his patients, at which point Border explains that, since arriving in Gotham, all he’s ever wanted was to help the Arkham inmates, the people of Gotham, and Batman most of all, but that none of them saw a helping hand…just as the door to Joker’s cell locks on Batman, and the cell starts to fill with gas. Turns out, Mr. Border is really more like Mr. Bourder, an obsolete word for ‘Jester’…and all I could hear while reading this for the first time was this little tune…
Yep, Border’s really Joker in disguise, using make-up, muscle relaxers, and even sporting a new face (Thank God). We see that Joker has infected most of the city as Batman is trapped in the cell, and that, as alluded to before, Joker didn’t exactly take the ending of Death of the Family all that well, and is now out to END Batman. And it’d be great dialogue…if it wasn’t more or less word for word what Scott Snyder said in an interview while explaining Joker’s motivations this story arc. Seriously, Scott, I love ya and all, but you REALLY shouldn’t be doing this. And I’m not the only person to notice, either. But yeah, Joker says that when Batman wakes up, he’ll find the whole city laughing at him, pulls out a BANG flag gun, shoots, and end of Part 2 of Endgame.
I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t enjoy this issue from my nitpicking, because I did, A LOT. I’m just pointing out that a few things either didn’t add up well, or have yet to, but it’s still early in the story, so who knows, maybe it’ll iron itself out later. I will say that the best part of this issue was the reveal that Border was really The Joker. Now, I’d seen a new shot of what Joker was supposed to look like online, particularly in his recent haircut, so when I saw Border in this issue and saw his hair, there was a split second where I thought to myself “…Wait a minute…”, but I didn’t really believe it, since I didn’t think it was possible…Yeah, turns out, VERY MUCH SO. And I gotta wonder, was Border ALWAYS supposed to be Joker in disguise? How long has Snyder been planning this? Were there clues I missed along the way? I can see him popping pills in Batman #34, which were probably those muscle relaxants he mentioned, and re-reading that scene knowing what I know now makes it absolutely CHILLING. And frankly, I seem to recall Joker once saying “How do you keep a secret from the World’s Greatest Detective? You stick it right in front of him, right under his long pointy nose, and wait.”
Speaking of, I think I speak for most when I say that I’m glad to see that Joker has a face again. Having him not have a face FOREVER just wouldn’t have worked. I’m curious as to how and when he got it, though. Clearly, he knows a REALLY good plastic surgeon…though I wonder how come this new face is also bleached white. But whatever, point is, despite some hiccups along the way, Endgame has proven to be really good, and I can’t wait to see what that insane, demented, side-show freak pulls out next…But enough about Scott Snyder, I wonder what Joker has planned? XD
So, in addition to not buying anything related to Future’s End, with the exception of the Batgirl issue, I’ve also not been buying Batman Eternal. However, in this case, it’s less of a disinterest with the story and more of a simple matter of IT’S A YEAR-LONG WEEKLY COMIC! What, am I made of money? lol However, at this time, I currently have two issues of Batman Eternal in my possession: #3, which was the New 52 debut of Stephanie Brown (not counting Batman #28), and this week’s issue. Why this week? Because the primary focus of the plot is on Steph and her activities now that she has become Spoiler. So, with that said, let’s take a look at what happens, and…well, for the lack of a better term, spoilers ahead. 😛
So Stephanie is spying on her dad, the Cluemaster, as he’s explaining to someone in the dark how a group of C and D-List villains are using their own unique talents to upset the natural order of Gotham in a slow, methodical fashion, so that when the time is right, Gotham’s citizens will be ready to riot. Since most people following this story already know the man’s involvement thus far, I’ll just go ahead and say it: It’s Hush. Hush is pleased at how the plan’s progressing for now, but tells Cluemaster that he needs to kill Stephanie before she can get in touch with Batman and spoil everything that’s going on, and wow, they’re just going all out with the Spoiler theme, huh? lol
Anyway, cut to Batman dealing with a situation at the Gotham Gallery of Modern Art, where Simon Ecks, AKA Doctor X, is causing trouble, and Batman has to put him down with an Nth Metal Batarang. I have no idea WHY he was carrying a Batarang made out of Nth Metal, since the gadgets in his belt are generally rotated based on situations, so I don’t know what made him think he’d need it, but whatever. He also finally realizes that the situation Batwing was looking into at Arkham Asylum may not be going as swimmingly as he was led to believe, and has Penny-Two look into Ecks…Oh yeah, for those that haven’t been following along, Alfred’s daughter Julia was found fighting Fang in Hong Kong, and after a recent incident where Alfred got injected with fear toxin by Hush, Julia found her way down to the Batcave, and she’s been helping Batman in place of him, meaning she’s the one we saw working down there in Batman #28.
Back to Stephanie, who gets attacked by her dad, who knew she’d come looking for him eventually. He’s not quite ready to murder her yet, instead trying to get her to join him, but after a struggle where she tears off on a motorcycle, he gets his incentive. Anyway, after a chase on the highway, during which she was making a phone call, she escapes him, leaving him to be caught by the cops. However, whereas he’d be able to get free if this was the GCPD (Jason Bard in this continuity turned out to be working for Hush…huzzah…), Steph had led him past the city limits, and now he’s dealing with the state police. The only thing missing here is the Price Is Right fail sound, which I will supply right now…
So, this issue was pretty good. If I have any complaint to it, it’s that this rebooted Stephanie Brown seems to be a bit too good for someone who just put on the mask and is fighting crime with no previous training. I mean, it’s POSSIBLE she’s acquired these skills she’s using prior, but we haven’t really seen any indication of this. She beats her dad all too easily, although I doubt we’ve seen the last of him, and he’s just a small part of a much bigger problem. Also, I don’t know if I’m forgetting something, since I’m mostly just reading about stuff that happens in the series as opposed to picking it up at the shop, but it feels like the situation with Batman at the art gallery fighting Doctor X comes right the frak outta nowhere. Last I checked, he was dealing with the Architect, a villain from Batman Gates of Gotham, who had triggered a small earthquake that leveled several buildings, though not quite as bad as the one from No Man’s Land, and dear God, I feel like I’m gonna set off the Continuity Alarm any second now.
But yeah, other than those problems, this was still an enjoyable read, and hell, I can’t complain too much about a book that focuses on my favourite superheroine BEING my favourite superheroine. So, not winning any awards or anything, but still a good issue nonetheless.