Red Robin and Red Hood battle a bearded Bane on the Island of Santa Prisca, and we get our first glimpse at the Angel of Death!

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Let me get this unimportant detail out of the way right up front so we can focus on the rest of the issue without it permeating my every thought.  Bane has a beard!  I don’t know about the rest of you, but as soon as I saw Bane with a beard, I became fixated and couldn’t think of anything else but that.  It’s strange, because it really is a throw away detail, and there are far more interesting things to ruminate over, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about Bane’s beard.  Now, onto the review.

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Last time we saw Tim and Jason, they had cornered tech dealer Jean Metier in Gamorra, who was hallucinating big time.  As we rejoin our heroes, they are avoiding missile fire over the island of Santa Prisca.  Now, I’m not saying I can’t extrapolate some kind of plausible scenario that would have gotten them from point A to point B, but it seems to me that a considerable portion of the story just got skipped.  A portion that could have very well been interesting to witness.  As it stands, we can somewhat piece together what happened from exposition, but one of the rules I always like to point out when it comes to comics is: show don’t tell.

Going into this story, I was concerned that I wasn’t going to enjoy it that much since the Grayson portion was so engaging.  I’m not saying this holds up to that, but it was far more entertaining than I assumed it would be.  Much of that is due to the character interactions and witty banter being slung about.  Jason as the funny guy and Tim as the straight man really works well.  I’m reminded of how one of the most entertaining things for me from Batman Eternal was the interesting medley of mashups that occurred with characters.  Pairing Tim and Jason together was a real inspired choice for the creative team to have made, and I think it will pay off in spades before all is said and done.

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I was also concerned about about the fact that we were getting another Jason/Bane match so soon after having already witnessed one in Batman Eternal.  While it’s not super relevant, I appreciated the fact that they actually referenced it.  It helped justify it in my eyes.  Fortunately, this fight doesn’t involve a mechanized exoskeleton, and the fact that Bane is without his Venom, makes it much more evenly matched.  A gritty visceral battle that takes place between two guys just pitting themselves against one another without any gimmicks is far more entertaining in my book than one that relies on over-the-top elements.

The issue also features a quick two page scene with Grayson and Harper that’s a lot of fun.  It references historical moments and tenets from Batman history, plays up Grayson being a mentor, includes humorous anecdotes, and even takes the time to be heart felt.  This, coupled with all the great character work and dialogue incorporated into the Tim/Jason scenes, and I’m fairly impressed with the script compiled by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly.  Going into this issue, I was completely unfamiliar with their work, which had me concerned.  But they have shown that an unproven commodity isn’t always a bad thing.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and this was a good start.

Roge Antonio handles art for this issue, and while he does a fine job, I’m not really sure this story highlighted his strengths.  The two most noteworthy issues he illustrated in the past were Batman Annual #3 and 4.  Both of those had much darker stories in tone and setting that allowed Antonio to really shine.  On the few instances that this particular story invited in those elements, Antonio was able to stretch his legs, but for the most part, he was relegated to more standard comic fanfare.

My biggest “What the hell?!” moment from this issue:

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Bruce Wayne engages Mother and the Orphan in combat and runs away!?  When Bruce shows up to get his custom made bride, Mother informs him the she was always aware of his deception and knows that he is Batman.  The only reason Bruce should have fled from this encounter, was if he was trying to maintain the illusion that he was not Batman and give Mother no more proof than what she may already have had.  Considering he all but confirms her accusation during the fight, it begs the question, why run?  Why not defeat both of them right there and then and be done with it?  There is no viable reason why he shouldn’t have done just that.  Ultimately, the only answer I can come up with is: because it needs to happen for the sake of the story, and I hate those kinds of answers.  If anyone has a more plausible reason, feel free to share it.  I really don’t want this one scene to color the rest of my opinion of Batman&Robin Eternal.  It’s really kind of sad, because the lead up to this encounter was my favorite section in the whole issue.

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My biggest “WooHoo!” moment from this issue:

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bre9.5Awww yeah!

In Batman&Robin Eternal #5, Dumas is mentioned.  Ever since then, I have been waiting patiently to find out if that was just a quick name drop or if it would feature heavily within this story.  I’m happy to say that at this juncture, it appears to be a major part of the story line.  The only thing that concerns me right now is that it is being refereed to as a new organization.  The original continuity featured a century old organization, while here, it is being implied that this one is fairly new.  I am wondering if the Crusade of Saint Dumas is overwriting the Order of Saint Dumas in continuity, or if it is an offshoot of the original Order (they actually refer to it as both in this issue).  I’d prefer it to be an offshoot, but that isn’t the way they seem to be talking about it.  It’s as if Dumas is something new to them, when they should already know what it is.  Another acceptable explanation that I would be willing to entertain, is that everyone assumes that it is new, when in actuality, it is ancient.  Considering that parts of “Knightfall” survived the New52 relaunch, it will be interesting to see how much this new story and the old one step on each others toes.  Only time will tell, but this will be a hot button issue for me.

It’s also worth noting that an older version of Azrael appeared in Batman Incorporated, which was part of New52 continuity.  Perhaps it would be best to just consider this another moment of DC pushing “Story over Continuity”, but you know I’m still going to give them a hard time over it regardless.

Interesting Facts:

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Recommended if…

  • You wan to see Bane with a beard.
  • You like the interplay that is developing between Tim and Jason.
  • You wanna see the Red Hood/Bane rematch.
  • You wanna see The Angel of Death!

Overall:

This was far more entertaining than I was expecting it to be.  Tim and Jason make a wonderful duo that play well off one another.  Throw Bane into the mix as an uneasy ally, and you have a trifecta that delivers nonstop entertainment throughout.

SCORE: 8 / 10