Now that’s more like it! After a couple of rough issues, Batman&Robin Eternal comes back strong with a healthy dose of intrigue and a Bruce-centric story that is sure to put a smile on even the most critical fans’ face.
The flashback portion of this story hits all the right marks. From intense action and intrigue, to introspection and self doubt, all the way down to tone and pacing. It has it all. Couple that with all the quintessential Batman moments, which get seamlessly stitched in, and this is no longer just a good story, but a good Batman story to boot! I was pretty delighted to see so much meaningful material delivered in so few pages without it feeling cramped or formulaic. I got so engrossed in the story that I even forgot it was a flashback and was thrown off when we jumped back to the present. Can’t we just stay in the past? That’s where the true story lies, and that’s where I want to be. Forget all this Robin squabbling. More Bruce please!
It basically delivers everything that I have been sorely missing of late. But it’s not just my knee jerk reaching to receiving something that I have been starved of. This would be well received regardless of the context. It starts of with a dynamic chase scene that relies heavily on character willpower, skill set, and intuitive tech use to achieve the goal at hand (no fancy flight boots here, just a good old-fashioned grapple gun). It’s a heightened reality that delivers impossible feats, but still feels completely believable at the same time. The adjoining Batcave pep talk is also a serious home run in setting up the world that Batman lives in. Long time readers are reminded of past stories and new readers are instantaneously familiarized with the status quo of how this world works…
In this single panel alone, we are introduced/reminded of a multitude of concepts and scenarios that are integral to the world of Batman. Bruce throwing philanthropic fundraisers, Alfred scolding the duo for their absenteeism, Richard being sweet on Barbara Gordon, and training in the cave to focus the mind and body from a recent failure. It’s like a checklist of everything that should be here, but doesn’t feel forced in the slightest. It’s also great when a single line of dialogue can serve multiple functions. Space is limited in a comic, so when dialogue teaches us about the character, their environment, and their disposition all at the same time, that is killing three birds with one stone and making the most of the space available.
Since I mentioned Bruce throwing philanthropic fundraisers, lets delve into that for a moment. We seriously don’t get to see this often enough. It’s an important activity that informs on the character in multiple ways. It shows Bruce’s personal commitment to better the community, but also highlights the fact that these functions usually serve a double purpose. It gives Bruce the opportunity to play his “part”, he gets to donate to causes that he genuinely believes in, and more often than not, these parties play double duty as enticements for villains or opportunities to gather information covertly. Everything about this is so Batman that I am beside myself with glee. I mean, look at that image! Bruce crossing the Batcave while peeling out of a tuxedo, Batman garb underneath. Tarps covering equipment not currently in use. Bruce not wasting any time and getting down to business before he even makes it to the terminal. If you aren’t feeling this, then there is nothing else I can say to impress upon you how vital and awesome this little snippet truly is.
The flashback section concludes with a two page spread of Batman investigating a double homicide at a rooftop penthouse in the middle of a lighting storm. Even though it is only three panels, it is so evocative, that I can vividly picture the un-illustrated connective scenes. Batman slipping in through a window or sliding door, water pooling around his boots and cape. Slowly taking in the environment to determine whether or not he is alone. Walking down a hallway illuminated by nothing more than a sliver of light coming from behind a half opened door. And finally laying eyes on the gruesome scene. They could have easily stretched this out to a couple more pages to increase the tension and dramatic effect. But even in its current state, it packs one hell of a punch!
If all that isn’t enough to wet your whistle, the story actually moves forward and we get some more background on Mother. Not too much mind you. They have to parcel out these crumbs sparingly to keep us hooked till the end. That is probably the only thing that will make this story drag in the long run. Issues of awesomeness followed by filler till you get to the next bread crumb of awesomeness. I know that selling more issues is in the companies best interest, but it would still be nice if the story focused more on what mattered and trimmed some of the fat.
In all, the issue only had 2 questionable moments for me. The first one involved Jason, and in reality, I’m not even going to count it as a negative because I enjoyed it. Just pointing it out since it was unusual. Jason is the voice of reason in this issue, the character that Richard bounces his ideas and feelings off of, and he makes a lot of sense. It seemed slightly out of character for him, but at the same time, I loved what he had to say, so I’m going to give it a pass. The other element that gave me a little trouble was a scene between Bruce and a party goer at his fundraiser. It starts with Bruce outside holding an 8×10 framed picture of him and his dad. That just seems kind of odd and awkward in and of itself. Then I had to read their conversation twice and let it sink in to fully grasp what was being discussed. It’s just kind of random at first and you don’t really know where it’s leading till the end, so you kind of need to read it twice to fully digest it. Now maybe that is just my problem, but I think the dialogue could have been handled more smoothly in this section. It’s also confusing because he says, “I went to get her in Prague”, but also mentions that he, “Met her earlier this evening”. So which is it? Once again, it is a slight negative, but nothing that tarnished the overall experience of the book.
Tony S. Daniel handles art for this issue, but I’m not sure I need to go into too much more detail about how much his contributions effected the excellence of this book. Many of the comments I have made up till now weren’t restricted to the gifts that Tynion bestowed upon the book, but also to the influence the art had on the overall presentation. Daniel was largely responsible for the mood of the book and highlighted some very awesome Batman-esque moments. Do you really need more proof than the first image in this article?
- When you see a number in a comic, it is almost never randomly chosen. The writer of this issue, James Tynion the 4th, was born on December 14th, 1987.
- You’ve been missing Batman. This issue is full of classic Batman moments and sure to fill that void in your life.
- You recognize that Tony S. Daniel is a Batman artist worthy of praise.
- You want a few more bread crumb about Mother.
Definitely the best issue of Batman&Robin Eternal since the premiere. The flashback sequence is undoubtedly the best part of the book, and fortunately for us, it encompasses almost the entire issue. Get ready to indulge yourself in a Bruce/Batman that should be an every issue occurrence, while simultaneously enjoying a story that stands on its own merit. For those of you who have been pining over the loss of Batman, this issue marks a bitter sweet return to that lost world. You’ll be able to get a quick fix, but be left wondering why the publisher is being so stingy in only handing out these small morsels of the awesomeness that is Batman. More of this please!
SCORE: 9.5 / 10