Batman & Robin Eternal #5….where the Batfamily continues to dominate Mother’s operatives, and DC continues to mess with Tim Drake.

Mother and her band of cohorts are quickly losing any sense of intimidation.  In the premiere issue, there was a real sense of peril and a thrill of the unknown.  Maybe the mystery is still there, but with each passing chapter, her minions have proven time and again that they are a bunch of incompetent nitwits.  In one of my previous reviews, I remarked on the fact that having the Orphan get so thoroughly trounced by Cassandra so early on in the story merely served to de-emphasize him as a valid threat.  Since then, we have seen the Batfamily effortlessly take on hordes of axe wielding psychos without a single wound or casualty.  Add to that this issue’s fights, which once again end with Grayson and Cassandra on top of their respective battles, and you have essentially stripped the opposition of any threat they once held.  At this point, the only skill set the Orphan seems to have is in blocking punches with his own face and running away from every fight.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing Cassandra and Grayson own everybody, but for the sake of the story, we need the bad guys to start doing something that proves they are a force to be reckoned with.  Right now, they are just a bunch of push overs.  And while I’m on the topic of fight scenes, I feel like Eternal is starting to lean toward flash over substance.  I hesitate to call it filler, but we’ve had over the top fight scenes in every issue so far, but not too much in the way of commentary on how the characters are feeling about all this or a genuine progression in the story.  Stop with the gear grinding and let’s get to it!

bre5.4A bit forward?!?  More like one of the most grossly inappropriate things one could possible ever say!

At least try and show a little couth.

What is this nonsense with Tim Drake?  In the original continuity, he had parents when we first meet him.  As time went on, he lost his mother and then finally his father, making him an orphan.  Then the New52 happened and he had parents again.  “But this story is about orphans, and Tim isn’t one of those anymore, so lets make up some crazy stuff so that he fits the narrative we are trying to tell.”  If they had just left his character alone to begin with, they wouldn’t have to shoehorn in some contrived detail about his past in order to make it work for the story at hand.  And can we take a moment to talk about Jack’s dialogue.  I get that the writer is trying to convey the fact that Tim is actually adopted, but my goodness, it’s as if Jack has never talked to another human being before.  He essentially lets the secret slip 3 times in that handful of dialogue.  I know Grayson activated his Hypnos, but I thought that just made his face go squiggly, not that it functioned like sodium pentothal.  I guess Steve Orlando figured that if it was too subtle the audience wouldn’t catch it.  It’s like:

Officer:  Good evening.  Are there any opened bottles of alcohol in your vehicle?

Driver:  Why no Officer…especially not in the glove box…

This issue raises tons of questions that aren’t answered, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they won’t be.  Questions like:  How old was Tim when he was adopted?  Was he old enough to remember his biological parents?  Does he even know he is adopted?  Who are his real parents?  What is his real name?  If Tim’s parents are essentially in a witness relocation kind of situation, why leave them in Gotham where someone might recognize them?  I want answers!

The pencillers for this issue are Scot Eaton, Ronan Cliquet, and Steve Pugh.  In a previous review, I expressed concerns that too many artists contributing to the book might result in a loss of visual consistency.  Well, I am happy to report it is not the case.  Even though there are slight differences in the artists’ visual styles, they really meld well together and I actually had to pay attention to even notice the shift from one artist to the next.

bre5.7     Third degree Bat-burn!  We need a medic over here.  Stat!

 Continuity Error:

At the end of issue 4, Grayson was approaching the Drake home at night time, but here we see that it is clearly daytime.  There is always the possibility that he scoped out the house all night, but I find that unlikely.  Besides, if that were the case, Tim would have shown up sooner than he did and questioned Grayson as to why he was staking out his parent’s house.

Interesting Facts:

There are no coincidences, only the illusion of coincidence.  – V

BRE5.2I think someone on the creative team is a Gen1 Transformers fan.

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  • Poppy brandishes a magical weapon that creates energy constructs in the form of a battle axe and a flail.  Interesting color choice.  I guess changing the color from orange to purple when it morphed into a flail would have been too obvious.

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  • The Order of St. Dumas made it’s first appearance in Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (1992).  The order utilized something called “The System” to subconsciously train it’s initiates.  When the current Azrael died, the next one in line would be activated with the use of a code phrase.  All the training that was ingrained, would then come to the surface.  The individual who took on the mantle of the bat after Bane injured Bruce during the Knightfall saga was Jean Paul Valley, a sleeper agent in service to the order.  All this makes me wonder how relevant that little name drop really is.  Will the Order play a role in this tale, or was it simply meant as an homage to recognize the source material that the creative team got some of their inspiration from.

bre5.5

  • Grayson introduces himself to the Drakes as Lyle Dixon.  Tom Lyle and Chuck Dixon were the penciller and writer responsible for many of the Tim Drake stories from the 90s.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see Cassandra smack around The Orphan again.
  • You want to see the newest juggling act that DC is playing with Drake’s history.
  • You want to see Grayson smash a framed picture of Tim Drake into Poppy’s face.

Overall:

While still entertaining, the progression of the story has definitely stalled out.  Instead, we are provided with enough shock and awe to stave off our curiosity while we wait for answers to the bigger questions that Batman & Robin Eternal poses.

SCORE: 6 / 10