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 things have come to a head in Arkham... And how this leads directly into Gotham's doom:
MTV News: This is jumping ahead slightly, but Deacon Blackfire says he’ll finally get his revenge... So what was his plan, exactly, now that it’s in ruins?
Ray Fawkes: Ah, well, I think this issue (and the one previous) should make it pretty clear that Blackfire has just about completely lost his marbles. He has vague notions of crashing Hell itself into Gotham, and making a petty God of himself in the ruins - reshaping the city in his image, as it were, but not the image he had when he was alive. More like a twisted, suffering, blasted remnant of what it once was.
But Corrigan can tell - Blackfire’s not even thinking that much about it any more. He’s been hollowed out by something - probably his experiences in Hell - and now he’s being used.
MTV: Speaking of ruins, Arkham is completely destroyed… What does this mean for Gotham, and more importantly the criminally ill?
Fawkes: It means disaster. It means that all of Gotham’s criminally and violently insane prisoners are either dead, maimed, missing, or set loose… all in one night. The portal to Hell might be closed, but the torment for the patients and staff of Arkham is far from over. And Gotham will suffer the result, of course. I direct readers not only to future issues of "Batman: Eternal" for this, but also to the new series - "Arkham Manor" and "Gotham By Midnight."
MTV: Joker’s Daughter meets a man (or woman) who gives her a dynamite vest and leads her to safety (not in that order). Should we be focusing on the fact that he seems to be wearing a mask over his head? A similar technique was used for Hush a few issues back… But is this Hush? He does say “Shh" as his first line.
Fawkes: I will not confirm or deny any details about this mysterious figure at this time.
MTV: And the Spectre shows up. What took him so long? And why doesn’t the big green guy just show up at the beginning rather than waiting until everything falls apart?
Fawkes: That’s a very philosophical question you’re asking. The Spectre is supposedly an agent of divine justice… so why does he let things happen first, and then punish the guilty? Why doesn’t he just roam the world preventing acts of evil? Why did he let this disaster happen to Arkham?
Its the kind of thing that twists faithful people up in knots - and Batwing will be one of them. How could God let this happen?
The answer, I suspect, has something to do with human free will.
MTV: Things once again look bad for Alfred. How will he, Bane and the other prisoners survive? Or are they going to hell with Blackfire?
Fawkes: The next issue is all about what happens to Alfred and Bane.
MTV: And what about Batwing? It's surprising to see him praying at those last moments, what went through your mind when you were putting together this scene?
Fawkes: Luke is religious - and I knew that going into this series, and paid careful attention to it when teaming him up with Jim Corrigan. This moment - where he’s witnessed the threat of Hell itself, and seen a divine spirit intervene… well, that’s got to be as powerfully traumatic as it is faith-affirming. But now he’s lost, terrified, and convinced he’s about to die. If there’s a better time to pray, I don’t know what it is.
MTV: And then Batman versus the Joker’s Daughter. Is this their first encounter? What’s going through his mind at this point?
Fawkes: No, Batman’s met up with the Joker’s Daughter before - notably in her one-shot. At this point? He probably wishes she wasn’t there at all. He has bigger fish to fry. There’s a cataclysmic disaster unfolding all around him, and this insane idiot is coming at him with an explosive vest and a crowbar. I mean seriously. What would be going through your mind? For me, it’d be a whole string of four-letter words. But Batman is a better man than I.