Bane and the boys work their way deep into the heart of Saint Dumas and discover the secret behind their Angel of Death, while Grayson and Harper make their way to the super-villain lair of DAVID CAIN!!!!!
First off, allow me to apologize for being so incredibly late with this review. I typically try to have all my stuff to you guys on the Wednesday that comics are released, but life, coupled with 4 books on the same day, put a damper on that. Considering that a majority of you have most likely already read or purchased this issue, I’ll speak about it more openly than I usually would.
This issue opens with Bane tackling Azrael while Tim and Jason handle the minions. It was kind of cool to have a “rematch” of sorts between Bane and Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley), as it was their first confrontation that climaxed the Knightfall story line. I say, “of sorts”, because this is actually the first time the character has been introduced in the new continuity. So while I remember the first time they fought, this is now technically the first. I mentioned this last time, but including Jean-Paul Valley as a new character at this time, calls into question exactly which parts of Knightfall are cannon and which parts are not. In 2011 when the DC Universe was rebooted, it was clear that Knightfall happened, as it was periodically referenced. These events force us to reshape the past to adhere to a new present. I guess the easiest way to integrate Knightfall at this point is to leave out all the details, and just go with the vague sense that Bane beat Batman at some point.
While Azrael defeats Bane, Tim and Jason use the opportunity to complete their mission and find the info that will lead them to Mother. This sequence is filled with plenty of additional banter and humor from the two, capitalizing once again on the inspired pairing of these disparate brothers in arms.
Is it just me or does it seem like all these lines should belong to Tim. I mean, what is Jason using to measure power consumption, and since when is he the kind of guy who can translate ancient Greek?
This issue really showcases Tim’s expertise. Not only as a tech wizard, but as a skilled combatant as well. While I enjoyed the fact that Tim got to display his fighting prowess, it seemed odd that he handed over his hacking gear to Jason to hack the system while he held off the guards. It is implied that Tim takes over fighting responsibilities because Jason is almost out of bullets. What is this, like a video game where Jason can only use the character specific attack he was programmed with? Jason can fist fight with the best of them, and it seems to me that Tim could have hacked it way faster if he was dong it himself rather than shouting out directions to Jason while in the heat of combat. Then again, it shows even more skill on Tim’s part that he can do both at once. In essence, I thought the set up was poorly chosen but awesomely executed.
At this point we jump to the past for a scene with Bruce and Dick. Everything about this felt wrong to me. Dick not noticing that Bruce was obviously hurt, Dick overreacting and storming off, and Bruce so easily accepting Mother’s offer. I can’t justify the first two, but I can hope that the last one is merely a ploy by Bruce to ensnare Mother and not him actually being subverted by her words.
Lastly, we check in with Dick and Harper. The sequence with them is two pages long and features a montage that gets us set up for next issue. While it is acceptable, I’d have much rather seen their parts played out in whole than abbreviated in the way they were. It looks like we skipped over some entertaining fights along with what could have been a hilarious exchange between Dick and Harper. I’m already laughing as I envision what the following scene might have been: Dick having to coax Harper into a pretty pink dress, with matching flowered hat, in order to sneak into a bank.
Art for this issue is handled by Roge Antonio (continued from last issue) and Geraldo Borges, with Antonio handling the first half of the book and Borges the last half. In my last review, I commented on the fact that I thought Antonio was a great artist but who’s art was better suited to a different kind of story. After seeing the art provided by Borges, I renounce my previous statement. I’m not saying that Borges art is bad, but in comparison, his work is nowhere near as smooth and polished as that of Antonio’s. Well, maybe some of it is bad. Take a look at this shot of Grayson:
Why I liked Jean-Paul Valley and the world of Azrael:
Batman is obviously my hero, but I have no illusion to the fact that I could ever devote the kind of time and willpower it would take to actually becoming his physical equivalent. This is why the concept of Azrael appealed to me. Jean-Paul Valley was just a normal guy attending college. He was subconsciously trained from birth by his father in what the Order of Saint Dumas referred to as the System. When activated, he simply had the abilities he would need to punish the guilty. Think Neo from the Matrix where he learned kung fu in a second, or the Bourne Identity where Jason instinctually murdered a dude with a pencil. Granted, Valley had to work on his body to strengthen it up, but the skill was instantaneously granted.
I also liked how unsure of himself Valley was. (This was more seen in his actual book than in his appearances in Batman.) He had the skills, but not necessarily the experience and confidence to always use them successfully. It was also funny to see him interact with the initial female lead from his book, Sister Lilhy. He kind of had what you might call “ugly duckling” syndrome. While he had the new body and the athletic skill that would make some girls swoon, he still lacked the confidence to talk to girls. It was pretty funny at times.
The world of Azrael was also cool as hell. As Tim stated in this book, many of the miracles they performed were merely technology used to fool the gullible. It was cool to see the world of swords and sorcery, mixed with technology, and set in a present time. While I will agree that Azrael as a character stuck around long past his expiration date (11 whole years), his initial insertion into the world of Batman, and his first couple of solo story arcs, were solid and well worth a read.
- You want to see the “rematch” of Bane and Azrael.
- You have missed Azrael.
- You enjoy the Tim/Jason team-up.
This issue isn’t one of the better outings that Batman&Robin Eternal has had to offer, but it is far from the worst. While it raises all kinds of questions with continuity, utilizes unusual scenario builds, edits out worthwhile scenes, and has a general off kilter feeling when it comes to several character choices, it’s got plenty of good action and humor throughout. If you don’t dig too deep, you’re bound to have a good time, but for those of us with a more unforgiving eye, I’d say you’re going to have plenty to criticize.
SCORE: 6 / 10