Each week, MTV News is breaking down the big moments in DC Comics' "Batman Eternal," the weekly series that is redefining Gotham City as we know it.
This week, we talked to writer Ray Fawkes about how Arkham Asylum's underground demon problem is about to spill over into Gotham City:
MTV News: We kick things off with Alfred in Arkham… He’s certainly seen better days, but is there any chance he’s going to come out of this even close to the same as when he went in?
Ray Fawkes: You don’t even know. Alfred’s going to come out of this a changed man.
MTV: Joker’s daughter makes a pretty startling realization this week… What tips her off that someone has been tricking her? And is someone working against what’s happening in Arkham?
Fawkes: Well, the Joker’s Daughter might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but once she’s removed from the effect under Arkham and taking a close look at the orders she’s being given (which are coming more and more frequently, and starting to contradict themselves - “Go out and conquer!” “Come back and serve!”), even she’s starting to twig to the fact that someone’s manipulating her.
And, uh… you don’t want a morally blank psychopath figuring out that they’re being manipulated. They tend to… act out.
MTV: We get a glimpse of Bane this issue, and we know big things are coming up for him. Why hasn’t he been taken yet by Blackfire’s minions?
Fawkes: Bane’s no slouch. It seems that most of the patients of Arkham need softening up before they get dragged downstairs for “the changes” - it’s likely that Bane’s more resistant to the drugs and torments that he’s been subjected to.
MTV: Why is Blackfire able to pull the Spectre out, when Corrigan can’t?
Fawkes: Ah, well… Blackfire might think he has the power to pull The Spectre out, but really he’s just creating the conditions that provoke The Spectre into emerging. Maybe Blackfire’s managed to get the eye of divinity to shine on what he’s doing now that he’s directly manipulating the forces of Hell. Though we’ll see how that works out for him in the next issue...
MTV: Does Batwing stand a chance against demons at all? Does he think he stands a chance?
Fawkes: Yeah! Yeah he does. One quality that I think every member of the Bat family possesses is the surprising ability to survive and prevail, even when the odds are wickedly stacked against them. Batwing, as a true member of Batman’s crew, is taking a serious beating here - but he’s got a fighting chance. He’s always got a chance. And he knows it…he just needs to figure it out.
MTV: The Riddler is a) missing, and b) seems to be on to what’s happening in Arkham. How did he catch on? And was this a message expressly for Batman to find?
Fawkes: The Riddler is very, very, very smart. And very good at recognizing patterns and links between apparently unrelated events, as we saw in Snyder & Capullo & Plasencia’s amazing "Zero Year" story in "Batman." So whatever’s going on here - he spotted it early, and then vanished. But did he disappear himself, or did somebody remove him from the field? You’ll have to read on and see.
And, in a way, every coded message the Riddler leaves is always for Batman. Because Batman is the only one he can count on rising to the challenge.
MTV: Let’s talk about that last page… That portal doesn’t seem to be good news. And portal to what/where, exactly?
Fawkes: It’s a portal to something that should never touch the living world. It’s one of the worst thing that’s ever happened to Gotham, and ever will.
MTV: Riddler’s code seems to suggest that there’s someone behind Hush, Blackfire, Jason Bard, and whoever is controlling the nano virus. Are we closer to revealing the series’ Big Bad?
Fawkes: It does seem to suggest that, doesn’t it? With every issue, we get closer to the ultimate revelations of "Batman: Eternal."
MTV: And it’s Ra’s al Ghul, isn’t it? What with the "Eternal" in the title, knowing who Bruce Wayne is, and the whole trying to bring Gotham to its knees thing... You can tell me, just the two of us.
Fawkes: What, and ruin the fun? Not a chance.