Continuing in the footsteps of issue #11, this chapter of Batman&Robin Eternal also elaborates on the history of its more mysterious characters. This time, the focus is shifted from Cassandra specifically, to Mother and her Children. While some of what we see here could have been pieced together from what we have already learned up till now, it’s still nice to have it laid out before us in one “pretty” picture.
I say Mother and her Children, but the real focal point is on the kids and the nightmare they must endure to become one of Mother’s puppets. Nightmare also really doesn’t cut it as a descriptive enough word when it comes to defining the torment these children have to endure. The book had so much questionable material in it, I actually checked to see what the recommended age range was. I remember reading The Killing Joke for the first time when I was 12, and while that had some seriously adult content in it, the violence was directed at other adults. Here, the violence is primarily directed towards children, and it is fairly graphic. (There is sooo much blood everywhere) While I thought the gruesomeness of David murdering a sea of people in front of Cassandra was fairly intense, this takes the cake. There is even a scene where two of Mother’s little Children are engaged in a training exercise and one of them intentionally snaps the other kid’s neck. While it is shown off panel and we get a shot of Grayson’s reaction instead of the actual neck breaking, it is still pretty clear what is going on.
I suppose I would be concerned about a parent mindlessly buying their kid a comic, and just because it is about Batman, assuming that it is appropriate for them. After all, some people still have the mindset that all comics are for kids. With that, I could see this falling into the hands of a ten year old. I can’t even imagine what would go through their mind seeing something like this. Watching little kids get murdered and murder one another. It’s even worse when you realize that David Cain actually enjoys doing it. Seriously, try imagining what it would be like to read a story about an adult who loves torturing little kids and murdering their parents and you happen to be the age of the kids he is going after. Kids look to adults for protection, and here, an adult is murdering everyone in sight. This is brutal. Mother may very well be one of the most disturbing Batman villains ever created.
While my commenting on this may seem like a negative towards the comic, it is not. It is merely something to consider. If anything, the focus on abuse against children just stands to highlight how evil Mother really is and how important it is to stop her. While we get a look at the operation from the time that Sculptor joined to the present, we still don’t know Mother’s beginnings. Seeing the depths to which she will go, I’m curious if the book will ever go into detail on what event created her. It had to be something truly horrific to create a monster such as this.
One of the things that isn’t outwardly talked about in the comic, but is evident nonetheless, is the fact that Bruce was a result of a trauma similar to the one Mother inflicts on her Children. In Bruce’s case, it was happenstance, but Mother plans these traumatic events to create her Children. It makes me wonder if the story is going to attempt to tie Mother to Bruce in some way, or if the writers were merely trying to explore the idea of Bruce’s tragedy being used to generate more evil instead of good. Along with this, I am reminded of the fact that people occasionally discuss the way in which Batman endangers minors. While that is true from a certain point of view, I’d dare say that whatever Batman does with his Robins is a fair shade more responsible than what Mother has done with her lot.
Well, that is awful nice of you, but can you tell me why you didn’t just use your powers on Mother and David to begin with? When you see what the Sculptor is capable of, her inaction seems unjustified. If we had been given some solid motivation as to why she didn’t just handle things herself, it would have gone a long way to accepting her story. In a way, it is interesting to see someone so powerful be so weak, but it is also unfortunate that the writing team couldn’t come up with something more concrete than, “I just can’t.” To me, it seemed like the small chink in an otherwise well thought out story. They came up with the Sculptor and generated an elaborate “Ghost of Christmas Past” like twist in which to divulge info instead of just having her tell it to them straight and boringly through dialogue. They wrote themselves into a corner, and instead of scrapping a promising scenario, they generated an iffy answer to a rather relevant question.
Instead of a writing obstacle, perhaps her inability to answer the question should be taken as an in world oversight of a planned deception and Grayson was simply too caught up in the moment to really scrutinize it. While it is suggested that everything she just told them could easily be a lie, which would help solidify the writing choice, I’m inclined to believe that it is actually the truth. I also don’t feel like we will get an explanation of this in the future since this could very well be Sculptor’s only inclusion in Eternal. I might be wrong here, but I feel like her sole purpose in the story was to impart info in an interesting way, and now that she fulfilled her role, she won’t be getting a callback.
Art for this issue is handled by Javier Pina and Goran Sudzuka. To be honest, I can’t tell who is responsible for which pages. It doesn’t help that the credits don’t pinpoint the pages they were responsible for, but on top of that, I looked up the two artists online and couldn’t really match their online portfolio work to the work in this book. The confusion didn’t really stop there. While it was obvious that one artist handled pages 1 and 16-20, whoever was responsible for pages 2-15 was somewhat inconsistent with their work. Within these pages, linework went from pencil thin to incredibly thick and shading jumped back and forth from heavy cross hatching to simple adjustments in tone. It just felt erratic. And I’m not talking from one artist to the other, but within the work of the artist from the middle of the book.
- That ending! Did she just kill everybody or did she show up after they were all already dead and got blood on herself from looking for survivors. I’m hoping it is the later, but I think the scene was intentionally set up to make us think the former so we freak out about it for a week before realizing that it was just a trick of the editing.
- You want a more clearly defined picture of Mother’s operation.
- You want to see the actions of what might possibly be one of the most sadistic Batman villains in recent history.
If you have youngsters reading comics, I might advise against exposing them to the content of this particular issue. Extensive and graphic violence is depicted against very young children, and I can see that not sitting too well with a younger audience. Aside from my cautionary warning, this was a great issue and really drove home how despicably evil the character of Mother truly is.
SCORE: 8 / 10