Up until now, "Batman Eternal" has been a fun series that's used the weekly format well. But with "Batman Eternal" #10, the feared moment has happened: the first issue that you'll feel like you could have skipped. It's not a bad issue, but Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley and Riccardo Burchielli's installment this week just doesn't have anything out of the ordinary to grab the reader's attention.
Part of the problem is that the resolution of Catwoman's imprisonment feels matter-of-fact, as if the writing team has admitted that there's not that much to the entire sequence. One minute she's with Falcone, the next minute Batman's freed her. Part of that is due to Professor Pyg still not having much of a draw since Grant Morrison's usage of the character -- there's not a strong personality to go alongside the homonym name -- so having Batman fight the character isn't worth cheering for.
The bigger problem, though, is that Burchielli's art feels very rushed and atypical. I enjoyed his time as the regular artist on "DMZ" so it's a little unclear what happened here. Characters are very blocky, backgrounds are regularly missing, and the fight scene in Falcone's penthouse is actually a little hard to follow. It's not laid out well; the page after Batman crashes in keeps shifting perspective, and with no backgrounds there's nothing to anchor the point of view. Burchielli's normally much better than this.
There is one part that does work, though. It's only two pages long, but Stephanie Brown's sequence is by far the most interesting and attention-grabbing part of the book. Readers see her sharp mind at work, and also get a glimpse into her resourcefulness on how she's surviving now that she's on the run from her own family. Fans of the character are hopefully loving her treatment here, since she's certainly angling towards a larger role in the Bat-Family through "Batman Eternal."
With a weekly series, it's rare that you don't eventually have an issue where it just doesn't feel up to par. Honestly, if we get one every ten weeks, that's still a great average. In the end, this issue is more than a little stumble; it's dropping down to just the absolute middle of the road, but if everything gets stronger next week, I think all will be quickly forgiven.