We’re really here. We’re at the point where Batman Eternal has officially caught up with Batman #28 from last year!
From here on out, it’s all new material and uncharted waters folks. I know I am excited, so let’s get to this.
Batman Eternal #43 (DC Comics)
Lead Writer: James Tynion IV
Other Writers: Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley, and Kyle Higgins
Artist: David Lafuente
Stephanie Brown has been brought to Harper’s home to hideout after being rescued from Selina Kyle’s casino. It’s a very safe place for her, considering Harper has no direct ties to Batman in any way. However, Harper is a bit grumpy about the whole situation, still not feeling she’s got the right trust/confidence from Batman and having to deal with Stephanie on top of it, who isn’t exactly being forthcoming with information.
The story jumps to six hours prior, when Stephanie was still being held captive by Selina. Selina confronts the teenager and starts asking her questions. She already knows about Spoiler’s past, the connection with her father, and the giant bounty which implies she knows something about all the craziness. However, what she is most curious about is why Stephanie hasn’t gone to anyone yet with the information, in particular, Batman himself. Why is she so afraid of him?
Also taking place earlier, Red Robin meets up with Harper to give her mission. He needs her to infiltrate Catwoman’s casino and lower the security so Batman can get in and they can recover Stephanie. Harper is willing to do it, but she’s annoyed and frustrated that Batman didn’t give her the mission or that he still doesn’t respect her after all the help she’s given recently.
Batman and Harper crash the casino and knock out all of Selina’s guards. After the chaos, she brings the two to the vault where she is keeping Stephanie. She doesn’t want to leave, but Selina tells her she can either go with the two heroes or go back out onto the streets where there are 18 assassins still hunting her. Batman offers to protect her and keep her safe, the teenage girl finally relenting and going with them.
Back in the present, Stephanie confesses that part of the reason she didn’t expose any of the plans she overheard from the villains to people like the FBI or CIA was because she wanted to prove to her dad that she could play on his level and that she wasn’t a disappointment. She then reveals something else big, the reason why she couldn’t tell Batman what was going on: the person who gave her dad and all of his pals the orders to wreak havoc on the city… was Bruce Wayne.
So we finally caught up with the issue from last year and like I expected, it’s all new material we are learning here. We got a big surprise at the end of the issue, we learn why Stephanie has been avoiding Batman despite supposedly being on the same side, and we see a new angle with Harper and her growing frustration.
It was great to see this comic finally get some real, fresh development in the plot. I also found the characterization to be excellent, the writing strong, and the artwork to be pretty great. Lafuente’s style has a manga-ish vibe to it, but it fit the tone and feel of the issue quite well. It probably wouldn’t have worked for previous issues of the series, but I did like what I saw and hope to see him do more work elsewhere. The only real negative to the issue was that I was hoping to see more beyond the stuff from Batman #28, but at least the writers put in some more twists and new angles to it.
Stephanie Brown and Harper Row. Buddy superhero book. I see the potential already!