Grayson takes on axe-wielding mind-controlled freaks with the help of We are Robin and Batgirl.  That pretty much sums up this whole issue.  While I know that might sound exciting and fun,  it’s actually a lot more mediocre and unnecessary than you’d expect.

The story is basically just one long fight scene, but not very engaging.  Right from the start, it is clear that Grayson is in no danger.  He completely outclasses these goofs in every way, shape, and form.  He even has two pieces of dialogue within the fight that alludes to his enemies incompetence.  It’s even more peculiar when Batgirl says that she and W.A.R. probably saved his life as there are no indications that he needed help of any kind, let alone that he could’ve actually been killed by these fools.  Such a long extended fight scene might have been entertaining if they had given Grayson a challenge or incorporated any interesting business or take-downs.  As it stands, I just found myself waiting patiently for him to take out this threat so that we could move on to the actual story.  As it went on, I became more and more perplexed as the scene drew out to needless lengths of gratuity.  Then I realized, this was the story…

bre4.1So…what does dialogue in the image of Batgirl’s comic title sound like?

When We are Robin and Batgirl show up on the scene, it felt more like an advertisement got dumped in the middle of my comic than a relevant part of the story.  I was reminded of how Batman Eternal set up stories for other comics like Catwoman, Gotham by Midnight, and Wayne Manor.  I began to wonder if that was the intended purpose of the Eternal brand.  The difference here was that no plot line with W.A.R. and Batgirl was introduced that required you to read another title, they were merely here to remind you that they had new issues out this week.  In that sense, it was far less invasive than the counterparts from Batman Eternal.  Nevertheless, I don’t like the feeling that I am paying for an advertisement.  While Jason and Tim are integral to the story being told, I never got the impression that DC was trying to encourage me to read Red Hood or Teen Titans.  On the other hand, I feel like this inclusion of W.A.R. and Batgirl is the complete opposite.  I don’t mind when books highlight a shared universe, but their inclusion here is not only irrelevant but pandering.

bre4.7Oh, haha, I get it.  Cause he was disguised as a waiter….nope, still not funny.

While the fight scene was laced with humor, I didn’t actually laugh at any of the jokes.  I’ll admit that sometimes a joke goes over my head, but I find it hard to believe that every joke from this issue was simply beyond my grasp.  Chances are, they were just flat to begin with.  If they had instilled some sense of joviality, then the fight scene could have had an entertaining playfulness to it.  As it stands, I just didn’t get anything out of it.  I take that back.  I liked when Dick put Duke in his place.

bre4.3     I also appreciated the fact that this version of Batgirl ignored the drama and focused on the job.

Once the fight is FINALLY over and we get to the Batcave, I got the impression that the creative team was trying to push the creepy factor.  It is suggested that since Mother can activate these sleeper agents,  any of the team could spontaneously erupt into full-fledged psycho mode at any minute.  While the thought of not being in control of yourself is creepy, the looming possibility seems hollow.  If she could activate them, wouldn’t she have done so by now?  It seems they would have been far more useful pawns than that useless bunch of axe-wielders at the party.  Plus, activating them would also put a stop to any opposition.  On top of that, I feel like an unwarranted level of distrust suddenly sprang up.  Sure, things got bad there for a second, but don’t things always get bad.  Jumping straight to distrust seemed extreme to me.  This may be premature, but I’m already feeling sorry for Tim.  What new horror is DC going to thrust upon his continuity.

bre4.5That just looks unnatural.

Scot Eaton handles art for this issue, and for the most part it’s ok.  His closeups on character faces are actually quite nice, and when nothing is going on and people are just standing around everything is fine.  The problem is when the action starts, and unfortunately, that is more than half the comic.  The body movement of the characters feels very unnatural, and the stills of the action we get feel more like static poses that the characters struck for the shot, instead of fluid motions that would lead to the next move.  I did however appreciate that the fighting moves used from character to character fit with their style.  Even if they weren’t that smooth, they still had character.  I think this is more a case of the wrong artist being assigned to the wrong task than straight up saying Eaton isn’t any good.  He has some quality stuff in here.  I just don’t think this was the best script for him to highlight his talents.

Interesting Facts:

bre4.2

  • Batgirl is about to flash-bang the room in order to blind the bad guys, so Duke warns the team with this nondescript warning.  Zatoichi is a blind blademaster from Japanese fiction.  I’m guessing I don’t need to spell out for you how this reference is applicable to the situation.  However, it does seem unlikely that the Robin Gang would have already been exposed to this scenario often enough in their adventures that they would have coined a maneuver for it.

bre4.4   Is this a Star Wars reference?

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  • I already brought this up in my first review, but I’ll say it again since this comic is referencing it.  Tim Drake first appeared in Batman #436 (1989).  This story introduced a 5 year old Tim in a flashback sequence where he got his picture taken with the famous Flying Graysons.  Tim was there the night that Dick lost his parents.  At the time, we didn’t even know who this little kid was.  It wasn’t revealed till later that same year, in a future story arc, that the little boy from the circus was indeed Tim Drake.

Recommended if…

  • You like loooong…drawn out….fight scenes.
  • You like when the story you’re reading has advertisements for other books in it.
  • You like bad jokes.
  • You like hollow threats.

Overall:

We are only four issues into Batman & Robin Eternal and we’ve already found the first stinker.  That is a bad sign.  Unnecessarily long fights, flat humor, and superfluous guest appearances mar what could have been an entertaining installment in the Eternal saga.  How did we go from the awesomeness of the premiere issue to this?  I just hope the creative team can pull it together.  I can’t imagine having to sit through 22 more issue like this….

SCORE: 4.5 / 10