10 Issues In: Batman and Robin Eternal
Hey folks, I realize this is a little late seeing as though issue #13 just came out as of this writing but the holidays have been happening. So without further ado let’s look at the first ten issues of Batman and Robin Eternal…wait! There will be some minor spoilers here not only regarding this series but series that the lead characters feature in as well like Batman, Grayson, and Batman and Robin so you may want to look away if you trade wait or are months behind in your reading…
In case you didn’t know, right now Bruce Wayne is without memories so he has no idea he is/was Batman. Instead, the Gotham City Police Department has put “Batmen” out on the streets, with these “Batmen” being robots for the most part but some of them are operated by police officers (like Commissioner Gordon moonlighting as Batman in the main Batman title). Dick Grayson, on the other hand, has been out spying on the organization Spyral by infiltrating them as an agent but reporting back to Bruce who, obviously, is not much help on that front these days. For Dick’s next mission Spyral has sent him back to Gotham where he meets up with his old pals Tim “Red Robin” Drake, Jason “Red Hood” Todd, and Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon. He also meets Harper “Bluebird” Roe for the first time as well as her new friend and roommate Stephanie “Spoiler” Brown.
The plot flashes back to one of the first cases that Grayson and Batman ever worked on together, a giant human trafficking ring run by a mysterious woman named Mother. Batman has some mysterious ties to Mother, but Grayson, in typical Batman fashion, is left in the dark. All he has to go on is a recording he found of Bruce advising him that if he’s watching this video he’s no longer around to help and they need to clean up “his biggest mistake”.
Grayson is unsure of who he can trust since he finds out Mother can control anyone at anytime thanks to her nanobots. His immediate thought is that Drake and/or his parents could be compromised, seeing that he was the only one who wasn’t orphaned before coming into his role as Robin…did I forgot to mention that orphans are Mother’s favourite type of person to manipulate? Anyways, when Drake finds out about this he’s none too happy as he, and the rest of the Bat-family, feel betrayed by Dick (rightfully so if you ask me). The fan favourite Bat-character Cassandra Cain also debuts in this series and she appears to be a former agent for Mother because “mother” is the only word she can say. She also conveniently has a list of the orphans Mother has infected, having fought a villain named Orphan, one of Mother’s minions, in order to get that list.
Issue #6 opens with Grayson and Todd discussing the events of the previous issue. Harper and Cain are still holed up in an apartment Grayson has kept in Gotham under an alias, Drake is still not speaking to Grayson, and Todd is being told about one of the first cases Batman worked with Grayson, which involved Mother. Batman and Grayson (under his former alias of Robin) went to Prague, with Grayson recounting that’s around when Batman cut him “out”, so he decides he must go there to re-investigate for any sort of clues.
In Prague, Grayson decides to send Harper and Cain to the theatre to watch a performance of Sleeping Beauty and keep an eye out on the lone name left on Cain’s list of people Mother has infected, with all the other names having disappeared or died. Meanwhile, Grayson continues to monitor Orphan’s signal to try to find their whereabouts but when the signal sends Grayson to the ballet he quickly realizes it’s a trap and sure enough Mother is there to greet him.
In Gomorrah, Drake and Todd are chasing down leads of their own that Drake discovered by following data provided by Cain. They chase down some black market kingpins but when they find their target in a church he appears to have been affected by some sort of hallucinogen. Back in Prague, Mother gives Grayson two options: he can follow her and learn everything or go help Harper and Cain who are in the middle of a fight for their lives against the entire ballet. Mother further states that if Grayson does not go with her he will never see her again, but Grayson still elects to help his friends anyways. After the battle Cain runs off after having a horrible flashback of a slash to the throat, with it being unclear if it happened to her or because of her. Grayson and Harper head back to the Prague’s Batcave (because Batman is prepared for everything!) with hopes to shake loose some clues as to where Mother is heading next.
Todd and Drake next find themselves in Santa Prisca investigating The Order of St. Dumas. Turns out “The Angel of Death” that the black market kingpin mentioned right before dying has killed ten black market men, all of whom had business with The Order of St. Dumas. Their hopes of heading to the Order of St.Dumas headquarters for answers are quickly dashed when they instead run into Bane. After a small tussle between Bane and Todd, Drake proposes an alliance since both want to find and stop this Angel of Death. Upon entering the Order’s building they hear a voice speaking to them claiming to be The Angel of Death before finally revealing himself to be… I guess we should cut it here to avoid anything more spoilery since issue #10 has all kinds of awesome moments that are better read than heard.
As far as reviewing this series it suffers the same problems as any weekly series which is that it is slow-moving. It’s a disappointing truth given my excitement for the series but not at all surprising. The art is constantly in flux, but Francis Manapul did issue #5 which was awesome, although Steve Orlando’s dialogue isn’t the strongest in that issue or the preceding one. Unlike the previous weekly Batman series, Batman Eternal, DC is ensuring all the characters at least have a small part in each book so we don’t get lost when they appear again three issues later. Overall it’s still a good series, but enough set up already let’s get into the dirty details and the action! Speaking of the action, the fight scenes are a mixed bag. The battle with The Angel of Death left a lot to be desired but the ballet brawl was well drawn and paneled to ensure an exciting sequence. There’s an old adage that great things come to those who wait. Seeing as we’re nearing the halfway point of the series, I trust that Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have mapped out a great story for us, I’d just like to start getting some answers sooner rather than later.