Cassandra and Harper battle ballerinas while Grayson bandies words with Mother.   In this, their second installment for Batman&Robin Eternal, Genevieve Valentine and Alvaro Martinez continue to deliver high quality storytelling at its finest.  Valentine with her expertly crafted dialogue and Martinez with his sublimely stunning pencils.  Get ready, as we delve deeper into the mystery that is Batman&Robin Eternal.

The primary driving force behind this issue is the confrontation that Grayson and the girls have with Mother and her minions.  Whether you like seeing someone solve their problems with their fists or their wits, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for here.  As I already stated, Cassandra and Harper battle ballerinas.  Even if I said nothing else, how can you not want to check that out?  Going into this, I was slightly concerned about how competent they were going to depict Harper.  In Batman Eternal, her skill level would range from getting by with dumb luck to being far too capable.  Valentine has found a nice middle ground in the combat style she has chosen to adapt for Harper.  Using the environment and improvised weaponry to stay ahead of the curve, I found this to be perfectly on par with my expectations for the character.  Meanwhile, Cassandra proceeds to outmaneuver and outclass all her opponents based on shear skill.  It’s actually entertaining to watch the two of them fight side by side as Harper flails about with makeshift clubs and Cassandra lands cartwheel kicks with the greatest of ease.  While the fight does have a heightened sense of realism, I can’t express enough how nice it is to have a fight that’s just a fight.  No gadgets or guns or tricks.  Just person vs person.  Best one wins.

bre8.11    bre8.12Could Cassandra be any more badass?

A more subtle fight is the one that takes place between Grayson and Mother.  Every word she utters is designed to instill self-doubt and make Grayson question everything he once held to be true.  Does she speak the truth or is it merely a cleverly designed deception intended to bend him to her will.  Only time will tell.

The ending sets up next week’s installment of Batman&Robin Eternal, but to be honest, I felt like it brought the rest of the issue down.  While Tim and Jason’s dialogue is fairly amusing at times, it has an unnatural rhythm to it that just felt clunky to me.  If the dialogue were being spoken out loud, it might be easier to pick up the natural cadence and breaks in their speech.  As it stands, I had to read it a few times to figure out how it was meant to be read.   After the great scene with Grayson and Mother, ending the issue with a less verbose and ineloquent set of exchanges was a slight let down.

This week’s art is once again brought to us by Alvaro Martinez & Raul Fernandez, with the setup for next week’s story illustrated by Scot Eaton & Wayne Faucher.  Since Eaton/Faucher only provide 3 pages, I’m not going to focus on their section, other than to say…

bre8.4…it looks like Tim put on about 10 years.

Last time, I applauded Martinez and requested that DC give this man more work.  That sentiment still holds true, in fact, doubly so, now that I have seen this follow up issue.  One of my favorite things in comics is having sequential panels that illustrate action.  A frame by frame breakdown that illustrates exactly what is taking place second by second.  I’d liken it to one of those flip books  that gives you the impression that the images are moving when you thumb through them quickly.  When this sequential story telling is applied to a fight sequence, I am even happier.  Take a look at these panels to see what I mean.

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From something as simple as Mother casually twirling a knife to something as dynamic as Cassandra executing a dodging roll into a double whammy, it’s simply perfect.  Last time, I also applauded Martinez for his ability to present a story without having to resort to a single word…

bre8.6   …need I say more?

But that isn’t the extent of his abilities.  Not only is his panel work a joy, but when he puts his sights on delivering a splash page, it’s truly wonderful.  He delivers 3 splash pages throughout this issue.  Now I would usually berate someone for monopolizing so many pages when they could have been used to move the story along, but they are so beautiful, I don’t really care.  One of them shows the duality of the meeting of Mother and Bruce, juxtaposed with the meeting of Mother and Grayson.  Each scene is paired with a Theatre backdrop rendered in complementary colors, and it really makes the page pop.  The other two are part of the elaborate and extensive fight scene that takes place during this issue.  One of which I will share with you now:

bre8.7A perfect example of Martinez’s ability to render fine detail at higher magnification.

What else can Martinez do?  He can draw realistic and expressive faces.  Look at this one of Harper:

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Martinez is a true powerhouse in my opinion.  As if I haven’t already said enough about his abilities, I’m going to leave you with one last example: it highlights his ability to incorporate interesting angles that support the dialogue and add an additional layer of nuance to a scene.

bre8.9It’s like the spirit of Batman is ever vigilant.


A note to the editing team:

bre8.1Who did pages 1-16 and 18?

Actually, even editing in the right pages won’t help.  You’d still have two pencilers on the same pages.

Here, let me help you.

Alvaro Martinez on pencils & Raul Fernandez on inks (pgs.1-16, 18)

with

Scot Eaton & Wayne Faucher (pgs.17, 19-20)

bre8.2

I have have detected?  Do you mean “I would have detected”?  As in “I’d have detected”.  Two mistakes in one issue?  Come on editorial.


Interesting Facts:

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  • The cover for this issue totally reminds me of the penchant artists had back in the 40s for depicting Batman alongside an enlarged version of that issues villain.  Case in point, Detective Comics #69 (1942).

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  • Translation: “The circle is complete”  “The circle represents the fullness of God” “The circle protects me from forgetfulness”  (with an assist from my wife)  It’s possible that something was lost in translation given that we don’t yet fully know the context of what is going on.  Fullness of God refers to God being in all things.  Forgetfulness could refer to not wanting to be forgotten or not wanting to forget something.  Like I said, not enough context.

Recommended if…

  • Sequential panels in a fight scene make you jump for joy.
  • You want to see the first real scene with Mother.
  • Alvaro Martinez is quickly becoming one of your new favorite artists.
  • You want to see a well choreographed fight scene.
  • You’re sad to see Genevieve Valentine leave Catwoman and want some more of her work.

Overall:

Genevieve Valentine and Alvaro Martinez’s contribution to Batman&Robin Eternal has been one of the most enjoyable segments of the story thus far.  Is it the material they were given to work with or are they simply the most skilled storytellers out of the group?  I’d like to think the later.  Valentine proved to me her finesse in the handling of Harper.  At times, Harper can come off as annoying, but under the watchful eye of Valentine, I found her believable and endearing.  Likewise, Martinez has more than proven to me that he is a force to be reckoned with.  He has far too many assets for me to recap.  You’ll have to read the art section of this article to fully appreciate the breadth of his competency.  The only thing that kept this issue from being more perfect for me was the inclusion of Tim and Jason’s lead-in for the next issue.  It lacked a general sense of cohesion with the rest of the tale, and displayed far less sophistication in its delivery.

SCORE: 9 / 10