Writer – Jonathan Hickman
Artist – Mike Mayhew
Colours – Frank Martin
Gladiator aims to destroy the Earth. He does so because he believes that the Earth is the cause of the incursions and the reason that time and the universe is breaking down. Destroy the Earth and everything is saved. It will not be as easy as all that though as Mister Fantastic, Steve Rogers and the rest of the Avengers will not let the Earth go down without a fight and this issue represents the opening salvo of that battle. To say that it did not go well is an understatement. Jonathan Hickman keeps on firing on all cylinders and Mike Mayhew illustrates his ideas beautifully. The Tony Stark problem, which was introduced a while ago, is finally dealt with in the easiest way possible and yet while he is gone, his presence is felt throughout the book until that cliff-hanger ending where it looks like he is about to save the day through one of his many inventions. Reed and Steve have another heart-to-heart about Tony and they agree that they have no idea what to make of him now or what to do with him should he reappear. There are a lot of flashbacks in the book detailing some of the missing elements that lead up to these events and Hickman uses them to really flesh out the story and give the reader a little bit of meaning and understanding behind some of what is going on. Even in the midst of an ongoing universal disaster and despite all of their differences of late, the Avengers still function as a team to get the job done, realizing that there are things bigger than them and at the moment, that which is Gladiator and the might of the Shi’ar Empire and his Annihilation Wave. As such, the book is packed full of action to go along with the drama present and it is great to see such determination not only in our heroes, but also in the enemy. Everyone is true to their selves and that is one of the best things that Hickman has been exploring in this series, which is every hero’s center of being, who they are, what they are and what makes them tick. It might not be outright all of the time, but that is the key to great characterization which Hickman knows – not beating the reader over the head with it. Secret Wars is almost upon us and the lead up to it is definitely very exciting.
Writer – Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins, Tim Seeley
Artist – Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Robson Rocha, Guillermo Ortego, David Lafuente, Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes, Allen Passalaqua, Gabe Eltaeb
Colours – John Kalisz, John Rauch
It may have been silly to think otherwise, but while everything that has happened during this year in Batman Eternal was thanks to the Cluemaster of all people, it all came down to the Court of Owls in the end who hijacked his plan for their own purposes, or at least for one of the members. Batman’s brother from another mother, Lincoln March, who really is not his brother though Lincoln likes to call Bruce as such, is the man who funded the Cluemaster so that he might cause Bruce and Gotham a wee bit of harm. To be fair, it has been a pretty brutal year and Bruce is more than worn out and has no idea if he will be able to defeat Lincoln. Thankfully, he gets a little help. Scott Snyder, the rest of the writing team and the great team of artists on this book have delivered quite the entertaining last issue and they wrap everything up with a nice, neat bow. Almost everything that is. While the fires have been brought under control and all the members of Batman’s extended family have come out none the worse for wear, the Court of Owls still reign in their little part of Gotham. Spoiler is the one character who might have suffered worse than anyone else, even more than Bruce and Gordon as she has lost her entire family during this year-long ordeal. But, while she might have lost a mother and a father, she has some new friends and a family far larger than her last. There were some other interesting tidbits that went on such as Jason Bard’s resignation, Jim Gordon’s return to the force, Red Hood’s unrequited feelings for Barbara and Selina cementing herself as the new crime lord of Gotham once and for all. Overall, the artists did a great job on this issue and everything seemed to flow nicely even with so many of them collaborating on the book and the same can be said for the entire series with its team of rotating pencillers. The writers have to be given credit for crafting a fun, exciting and compelling read and in the end, this series stands as the best weekly that DC has ever put out.
4.5 out of 5