The Batcave, The BatFamily, and even Bruce Wayne. It’s like a family reunion in here, but actually fun!
The gang is all here! I really liked how much of the team was represented in this story. At times, it got a little crowded, as if Seeley wanted to give each of them a little page time, even if it wasn’t necessarily warranted for the sack of the story. Regardless, it was fun seeing them all play off of one another. However, the inclusion of this many Bat characters all in one place just called to mind the ones that weren’t there: Barbara and Damian. Damian’s absence makes more sense since he is gallivanting around the world, but what does Barbara have going on that is so important? Ordering coffees and shopping in the latest hipster boutiques? Actually, scratch that. I’m glad that version of Barbara isn’t here. Carry on.
The issue opens with Jason VS Cassandra, and unfortunately, their fight is cut short before you even have a chance to place your bets. Anymore, it’s common places for heroes to square off before they team up to take care of business. The safest route is to never actually show one definitively beating the other. (We don’t want to enrage any fan bases). Considering that the writing team already risked the retribution of the fans by showing Cassandra smack Grayson around, I’m surprised that they would pull punches when it came to Jason. In defense of the scene, it would have gotten old to see Cassandra doing the same thing over and over, so I can accept it for not wanting to rehash. The fight was even plausible when you consider that Jason’s strategy was a lack there of, making it hard to predict his moves when even he didn’t know what he was doing.
That’s it! He was using Drunken Master in his fight with Cassandra.
Combat resolution aside, Jason ends up being fairly amusing throughout, in his own brand of beat you over the head humor. Despite the fact that Jason is this blunt instrument, he does manage to contribute several insightful observations that help guide the team along their way. Whether these were subconscious intuitions or simply stabs in the dark is uncertain. Either way, it felt very organic. A nice way to incorporate Jason’s tendency to blindly stumble onto the right path into the story.
This was my favorite series of panels from the entire issue. Considering that comics are a visual medium, it was nice to see this interaction rely on nothing but imagery. Not only are we clued in on the fact that Cassandra understands each of the Robins, but readers who aren’t familiar with them are given a brief insight into who these men are, and it totally works.
She isn’t a sea lion you can teach to balance a ball on her nose by giving her a fish…come on Tim.
While I did not have any specific concern with the art for this issue, I became a little concerned when I looked at the art credits: we are only three issues in and we already have half a dozen people contributing to the art. In the past, I’ve seen this happen when a book is getting behind; in order to meet deadlines, they start throwing as many people on the project as necessary. I’m just not sure why they didn’t have more issues prepped and ready to go. I am not saying that consistency was effected by the contribution of several inkers. I am merely bringing this up as a general concern for the future, should they decide to branch out to pencilers or other artists as well.
I also had a small problem with the editing in this issue. Two things in particular stood out to me. The first involved Cassandra Cain touching Grayson, followed by him bleeding from where she just touched him. While it’s explained right away, there was still a second where I was trying to figure out what she had done to him and why. The other editing requires a little more explanation. Grayson is trying to figure out who would want “designer human beings”. Todd suggests that Batman might. We then get a 3 page flashback involving the aftermath of Grayson’s fear gas incident. It resolves with Batman saying that the fear gas didn’t effect him. When we jump back to the present, Grayson is in shock. I was more inclined to believe that Grayson was in shock over the possibility that Batman had them engineered. However, the inclusion of the flashback could make one believe that he was in shock over Batman not hallucinating. Seeing as how the inciting incident and the outcome are separated by 3 pages, trying to figure that out really took me out of the moment. Now maybe that is just me, but I found it troublesome nonetheless.
This issue’s biggest “What the hell?” moment comes to us courtesy of Poppy Ashemore. In an unprecedented move of ridiculousness, our traitorous Spyral agent ends up using a Looney Tunes magnet to remove her nanobots. This seems highly implausible and looks completely goofy. Am I really expected to believe that some super-expensive super-secret non-government sanctioned spy technology can be brought down by an everyday run of the mill magnet?
My personal thoughts on the Robins:
Last week on my review for Batman&Robin Eternal #2, I received a very good question in the comment section. “Which Robin is your favorite and why? What is it about the character of Robin that you like the best?” I felt like these questions deserved more than a quick comment, so I will be addressing them here.
- Tim Drake is my favorite Robin. For those of you who have never known anything but the New52 version of the character, you are seriously missing out. Tim didn’t aspire to be Robin. It wasn’t his goal or his destiny. He just wanted to help. More specifically, he cared about Batman and Robin as actually people. They weren’t simply some nameless heroes who appeared out of the night solely to save people. He knew they were people beyond that. They mattered to him. In many ways, he was us. A fanboy within the comic world. He wasn’t a gifted circus performer, a street smart orphan, or a child of destiny. He was a completely normal kid. He was us, and that made it all the easier for us to see ourselves as him. It has often been said that Robin was invented as a way for children to insert themselves into the stories being told. You knew you couldn’t be Batman, but Robin was a possibility. And this Robin more than any of the others.
- While skilled in unarmed combat, Tim was never one of the most gifted fighters among the Robins. This was another point that made it easier for us to supplant ourselves in his role. He wasn’t a ninja master or acrobat trained from birth. He had a reasonable skill level that we could believe ourselves capable of. His true gift was in the technologies he employed to fulfill his role. In his early years, he was often relegated to handling the research aspects of a case while Batman handled most of the fieldwork. When he did venture out, he relied heavily on tech, subterfuge, and being familiar with his mark. In Tim’s case, knowledge was power.
- Tim was also a very humble and selfless individual. He wasn’t boastful like Damian, rash like Jason, or as whimsical as Dick. While many see Dick as the heir to the cape and cowl by seniority or Damian by birthright, Tim was always my choice to take on the mantle. He was most like Batman in the sense that they shared a similar level of seriousness and methodicalness. On several occasions, Dick pointed out that Tim was a better detective than him and even Ra’s Al Ghul recognized Tim as “The Detective”. A title he had only previously bestowed on Batman.
- Richard Grayson comes in a close second. If you were in this for the long haul, you’ve gotten to see Dick grow up, and it has been a wonderful ride. From a lost child, to a competent teen, and finally a self sufficient adult. Dick has had an actual character arc that unfolded over decades. He also set the bar for all Robins who followed and established the laughing daredevil stereotype that we expect Robins to adhere to. In many ways, I see Dick as Batman’s greatest success. He took a child who was subjected to the same circumstances he was, but instead of ending up moody and obsessively driven, Dick ended up becoming a well adjusted individual. Seeing as how the original intent was to help a young boy deal with his loss and anger, it always struck me as odd that Dick never left the super hero business all together. Sacrilegious…I know, but it always seemed to me that he was the one who had the most potential for living a normal life, and quite frankly, he deserved it.
- Damian Wayne is next, and he is the birth son of Batman. That alone makes him awesome. He is often displayed as being highly arrogant and completely condescending. While I am sure that some find him annoying, it is this mixture of superiority mixed with common childhood traits that I find most endearing. He has the skill to kill you with his thumb, but still loves playing with animals and eating ice cream. It’s kind of a scary combination. The power and responsibilities of an adult with the mindset of a child.
- Jason Todd brings up the rear. To me, the most relevant and impactful thing Jason Todd ever did for the Batman-verse was to die. It had ramifications that can be felt to this day, despite his resurrection. Seeing as how I have him last, and the fact that I think he should still be dead, it might be evidence enough for some of you to believe that I disliked Jason. Not at all. He appeared in many Robin stories that I enjoyed. There are even a handful of Red Hood stories that I have enjoyed, but never to the point that I felt it was worth bringing him back for. Keep in mind that Jason was dead for 15 real world years. In comics, that is a pretty serious commitment to the death of a character. Especially nowadays where they can’t even go an issue without reassuring the reader that a lost character will return. Death in comics has become cliche, but at the time, his death was a very real thing. Even though Jason had died, his presence in the book was never more strongly felt. For several years, it heavily colored Batman’s thoughts and actions and had an immense effect on the way that Tim was indoctrinated. Jason was an immensely important part of Batman’s history, but I feel like that is what it should have remained….history.
I hope that my personal experience with the Robins has given you a new viewpoint into the characters, or potentially highlighted an area that you weren’t previously aware of. Likewise, I’d love to be enlightened by your stories. So please, share your own love for the character in the comments below. I look forward to seeing them.
*I wrote this section on my personal thoughts regarding the Robins before reading today’s issue, and I was surprised to see that a couple of my comments had direct correlations within the story.*
Wait a minute…is that the T-Rex? Didn’t Bruce just turn that thing into a children’s playground slide in the last issue of Batman?
PAY ATTENTION EDITORIAL!
- You like Jason’s “anything but subtle” sense of humor.
- Seeing the gang working through their problems in The Batcave helps get your nostalgia quota filled.
- Good character interactions make or break a story for you.
For having such a small amount of plot progression, this story still manages to pack quite a bit of entertainment into itself. For the most part, Tim Seeley manages to portray the characters appropriately, but really shines when he plays them off of one another. Humor ends up being the focal point of the issue, with nary a page being wasted on an opportunity for banter. While I am fine with dialogue heavy issues, I firmly hope and expect the next installment to be highly action oriented.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10