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 the team-up you never saw coming (unless you saw the cover of the book): Bane and Alfred.
MTV News: A large portion of this issue seems to be about Alfred gaining control of himself, and his psyche. What’s the journey like for him? And is he in full control by issue’s end?
Ray Fawkes: It’s a difficult journey, to be sure. He’s been drugged, torn away from his family, and thrown into Arkham Asylum - and now the whole place has collapsed around him, and there are malformed monsters crawling all over the wreckage. In the middle of all this, he’s got to try and clear his head, figure out what’s real and what isn’t and find a way to survive.
MTV: Similarly, does he really not know who Bane is? Does Bane not know who he is? This might be one of those New 52 things, but didn’t Knightfall still happen?
Fawkes: Of course Alfred knows who Bane is - but he’s just trying to get him talking, mainly to humanize himself in Bane’s eyes. The less Bane cares about him, the more likely it is he’s going to kill him out of hand, right?
Bane doesn’t recognize Alfred. Alfred’s looking rough, he’s covered in dust and debris, he’s in the dark, and he’s wearing prisoner’s coveralls.
MTV: The demons they encounter in Arkham… Looks like the Spectre didn’t snag everything last issue? And if so, is Blackfire down for the count?
Fawkes: Those aren’t demons- they’re twisted Arkham patients and staff who are left behind after the magic collapses. It’s true- the Spectre didn’t quite clean everything up. That’s not his job. His job here was just to make sure that Hell doesn’t get access to the living world. The rest is up to the humans to deal with. It’s their mess, after all.
MTV: We see Mr. Freeze, Clayface and Zsasz escape from the Arkham hole this issue. Are they back in custody by issue’s end? And who else is out there?
Fawkes: We can safely assume they’ve been handed over to the GCPD by the end of the issue - though what that means is less sure than it used to be…
There are a lot of Arkham patients on the loose now. Some are terribly injured. Some are going to ground, and some, as you’ll see, are hitting Gotham as hard as they can. It’s a bad, bad, bad situation.
MTV: Things are also looking pretty bad for Spoiler, but also Batman is on the way… Has Hush bit off more than he can chew by going so hands on?
Fawkes: Mmmmmaybe. Stay tuned.
MTV: Let’s talk about the last page, because it has a very sweeping montage feel to it… You could almost hear the heroic music cresting in the background. What was it like getting this down on paper?
Fawkes: It was one of the moments we were planning from the very first meetings about the book, and about the Arkham storyline in particular, and I’m very proud and happy to have brought it to fans. Alfred Pennyworth is a real hero in his own right, and we wanted readers to remember that.
MTV: And what’s next? Is this Batman turning the tide and getting back in control, or is there even more control to lose?
Fawkes: Well, once Alfred’s back in the game, things do tend to fall into place, no? Look how fast he reestablished communications for Batwing, Julia, and Batman, for instance, and how he activated the systems under the Arkham ruins. Not to say that things are going to be any less difficult from here on, but with Alfred on side, the tone of the battle is surely about to change.