Nguyen as the artist is consistently wonderful, capturing the sinister effect and the claustrophobic atmosphere of Arkham with color combinations that just nailed everything. His illustrations are well-played notes by themselves which could have been enough to salvage whatever messy plot threads I'm forced to entangle as I read on.
I don't like this, and I'm too tired to explain in detail why, so I'll try to be as brief as possible with my grievances. First, we have Professor Milo's introduction which was abrupt although we did see him in one of the previous issues (I don't remember which one anymore and I don't want to look back at my copy). They should have established some build-up in the last issue, and not way back in the issues. That's the thing so grating about Eternal. When there is no need for a flashback or a 'previously on' for something that should be happening later on, they do it anyway. Now that said plot device is happening, they forget to remind the readers about it in the present. Fuck this. Still, I did like the way Harper sasses up to Tim though and Tim not being able to retort back. Now let's move on.
The Spectre and Batwing getting separated. It was bound to happen because we need to keep sustaining the danger and suspense and it did work, especially when you have Nguyen capably depicting it. I actually enjoy these two characters a lot even when their partnership started in a rather unlikely way (it was basically a blind date that's been going well for both of them). Their budding relationship had been such a delight to read--but then they were forcefully split up for this issue. Batwing ends up having the most terrifying chance encounter with the Joker's Daughter. I say 'terrifying' because I don't want to see JD anywhere near characters I like and care about. She's a piss-poor Harley Quinn knock-off without the dazzling humor and personality. And I want to kill her. Kudos to Batwing for kind of breaking the fourth wall with his snarky commentary directed towards the Joker's Daughter. It seems that the writers themselves are aware that no one likes JD so they poke fun at insulting her irrelevance and mediocre appeal. I'd be happier if Batwing rips her apart later on, but that's just me being resentful.
Another thing I was quite disappointed with was that scene Bard had with Vicki Vale. I've known all along something more personal is going to transpire from their professional relationship. Here we are given some crumb about the romantic possibility between them. The writers dangled it so blatantly and yet did not follow up on it in the end. Is it really so hard to make Vicki admit that she wants to date Bard and vice-versa? Why are they suddenly so suspicious of each other? Simple sexual tension? That's still kind of odd. I would think that the trust they shared during their investigation with Falcone and Penguin would strengthen their mutual bond (and the attraction which had been there since their first meeting) but that's not what happened at all. I would think that's a natural progression between two single people who are clearly interested in each other, but what would I know, right? I'm not writing Batman Eternal and it's not as if I would ever want that privilege.
We'll be getting more of Blackfire and Professsor Milo next issue. Hopefully, the plot moves forward, Joker's Daughter chokes in her own blood and vomit, the Spectre and Batwing get reunited and Tim and Harper start liking each other enough to sustain a believable character interaction. And for god's sake, just go out on one date, Vicki and Bard. Jesus fuck.