Batman Eternal may be only about halfway finished, but readers already know a lot about what the Batman universe will be like when the weekly's current story finishes in March 2015.
The clues about the story's conclusion have been revealed because, in October, just about every Batman book will jump forward in time to take place in the post-Eternal world — including the Batman title by Eternal's co-architect Scott Snyder. As the writer announced on Newsarama, August's Batman #34, which was already released, and all subsequent Batman issues will take place after the Eternal.
"We're jumping to the end of Eternal's continuity," Snyder explained about August's issue and subsequent stories. "Endgame takes place in the same continuity as #34. They both take place, basically, right after the end of Eternal."
(To clarify, DC has stated that Batman Eternal will take a hiatus in March 2015, but it will be after the current story concludes. So all references to "post-Eternal" refers to the story ending that happens in March – even though the weekly may pick up again later with another storyline.)
It's not the first time DC has told a weekly story where the ending was pretty much known, because the weekly series 52 told the story of a "missing year," even though all of the concurrent comics exposed what had happened at the end. (To be fair, though, the end of 52 did have its own surprises, since DC's long-missing multiverse returned in the weekly's finale.)
There are, of course, still plenty of missing details about what happened to create the post-Eternal world, but as October and November solicitations have revealed hints about what's coming at the end of the weekly, we thought we'd list a few:
Catwoman Kingpin: Readers have known since early this year that Selina Kyle would become the leader of Gotham's crime families, thanks to the flash-forward teasers in February's Batman #28. "This is where we are," Selina said in the issue. "The city belongs to me. Every boss, every grifter. They do what they're supposed to now. What I tell them to."
This ending for the Batman Eternal story was confirmed in this month's Batman #34, as Batman referred to Catwoman's rule over Gotham's crime.
But it's also been revealed in October solicitations for Catwoman — which takes place after the conclusion of the current Batman Eternal story — that Selina goes into the "family business" when she takes over as the new kingpin.
So who is Catwoman's crime-leading family member?
So far, Eternal hasn't revealed it, but the Catwoman series has always been vague about who her parents are. Early in the story, most readers assumed it was Carmine Falcone, since he was one of the key villains and has been linked to Selina in pre-New 52 reboot stories.
But this month's Batman Eternal story introduced a new candidate: Rex Calabrese, the former crime boss who's rooming at Blackgate Prison with newly convicted, former Police Commissioner Jim Gordon. As Rex (who's going by the name "Leo") protected Jim Gordon during a riot, he mentioned that he had a daughter. Perhaps Rex is the real source of Catwoman's newfound family ties.
We also know from Batman #28 that, at some point in Batman Eternal, Bruce Wayne will abandon Catwoman somewhere, and she'll see it as him leaving her "to die."
"That Catwoman is gone," she tells Bruce during the peek at the future. "She died out there because you left her to die."
So far, we haven't seen Catwoman abandoned, but it looks to be a key scene in Eternal, and the reason for the character's sudden interest in the "family business."
Arkham Manor: The new, October-launching series Arkham Manor takes place after the events of Batman Eternal, and its solicitation says, "when catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum, where will Gotham City house the world's most dangerous criminals?"
So Eternal's current problems at Arkham Asylum apparently lead to Wayne Manor being annexed by the Asylum, for housing its dangerous inmates.
That said, Bruce appears to still have control of the Batcave. Despite the fact that Arkham Manor takes place inside Wayne Manor, there was a Batcave being used by Bruce in Batman #34. We can't confirm that it's the exact same Batcave, but it's got the dinosaur and all the cars, so we're guessing it is.
There's also evidence that Arkham Asylum is still being used — perhaps being cleaned up — because Batman enters the building during Batman #34.
New Sidekicks: All this chumming around that Tim Drake is doing with Harper Row within the pages of Batman Eternal isn't surprising, because we already know that Harper becomes a sidekick to Bruce Wayne called Bluebird. She first appeared in the costume in Batman #28, the flash-forward teaser.
Thanks to a sketch released by Batman artist Greg Capullo (see above), we also know that Bluebird apparently survives Eternal (and appears in the October-launching Batman Endgame). And it looks like she now has wings on her costume.
The sketch shows her with what looks like a sidekick of her own — the "Lark" character that Snyder has teased before. The costumed character is shown in the sketch on a motorcycle, and appears to be male (although it's not entirely clear) — and we've done plenty of guessing about his identity.
That said, the sketch has a lot of strange clues — like, Batman seems to be missing a hand? — so whether this is truly an event that takes place in Eternal remains to be seen.
Julia Pennyworth, another of the new ladies in Batman Eternal, is also going to show up in October's Endgame. Scott Snyder tweeted in late July: "She's in my [Batman] #35."
It's all but confirmed that the girl who appeared in Batman #28 in the Batcave is Julia Pennyworth, who will likely take over her father Alfred's role, now that he's been incapacitated by fear toxin. Of course, whether she's working in the Batcave or not remains to be seen. She didn't show up in Batman #34, so maybe by the time #35 rolls around, she's just stopping by for a visit, or calling Bruce on the phone.
As long as we're talking about Pennyworths, in Batman #34, Dr. Leslie Thompkins mentioned Alfred briefly, as if he was OK. But Bruce interrupted her, and didn't let her finish the thought about Alfred — and we didn't see Alfred in the issue. So his status after Batman Eternal is still unknown.
Another post-Eternal possibility for Batman's sidekicks is Stephanie Brown, whom we've already seen as the costumed character Spoiler in Eternal. Whether or not Steph survives Eternal hasn't been revealed, but we're sure there are plenty of loyal Spoiler fans already writing to DC to demand she gets her own title.
In October, when Batgirl also jumps to the post-Eternal timeline, a fire will have destroyed everything Barbara Gordon owns. So she'll be moving, as detailed in the Batgirl #35 solicitation for an issue that introduces a brand new creative team of Babs Tarr, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart.
We also know that the Spectre survives his storyline in Batman Eternal because he's starring in the new Gotham by Midnight series. Apparently, he's hanging around in Gotham City after Eternal's conclusion, and he'll be working to stop supernatural threats in the city.
(And of course, even though it doesn't have anything to do with Eternal, we should mention during this "sidekick" list that currently in Batman and Robin, the caped crusader and his friends are working together to resurrect Damian Wayne as Robin. And writer Peter Tomasi has promised that there will be a Robin working with Batman by the end of December, when the story concludes with Robin Rises: Alpha.)
GCPD Still Anti-Batman: Although Gotham doesn't appear to still be under martial law in Batman #34 (and things don't seem to be quite as bad in Gotham as they're getting in Eternal), Bruce still isn't getting along with the Gotham City Police Department. In Batman #34, readers are shown a broken Batsignal as Bruce's thought caption says, "the rank and file police have turned against me."
Also according to Batman #34, Jim Gordon is still in prison for murder. "How long has he got before a shiv is slipped between his ribs?"
Snyder told Newsarama that the issue takes place after the conclusion of the current Batman Eternal story, so it's implied that the former commissioner doesn't get out of prison for awhile.
Villain Status: At the end of "Death of the Family," the Joker may have been stopped from completing his plan, but he wasn't captured. In the post-Eternal issue, Batman #34, Bruce mentions that the "clown is still missing," meaning that he either isn't going to show up during Batman Eternal, or if he is, he goes missing again by the end of it.
However, by the end of Batman #34, Bruce has placed someone else in Joker's cell, apparently hoping to draw out the villain. Does that lead into Endgame?
Batman #34 revealed a new status for another of Gotham's villains — the Penguin. Right now, in Batman Eternal, the Penguin is in jail. But an image in Batman #34 shows Oswald Cobblepot in full tuxedo, drinking what looks like a martini, with a woman on his arm.