Drake plays traitor, Todd plays possum, Valley pouts, and….St. Dumas makes an appearance! (kind of)

Let’s get to the chase.  This issue has way too much talking.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against an issue that has a bunch of dialogue, but if it does, I prefer it to be meaningful and coherent.  So much of the dialogue that takes place in this chapter is nothing more than nonsensical drivel spouted by a couple of egotists.  There is so much metaphysical mumbo jumbo that you’ll find your mind starting to wander as you read.  You know what I am talking about.  Remember in High School when you were doing your assigned reading and you were so bored that your mind started to wander, and before you knew it, you had read a whole page without retaining anything.  Then you had to read it again!  Yeah…that happened here.  The only difference is that in High school you needed that info for the test, but here, the dialogue is so much gobbledygook that it literally doesn’t matter if you pay attention or totally zone out.  Either way, you’re unlikely to garner that much useful information or enjoyment out of it.

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Even when stuff does make sense, the characters spend so much time needlessly pontificating that it seriously tests one’s patience.  Granted, it is openly mocked in the story, so it is obvious that it is intentional, as opposed to just bad.  However, while it is good to emphasize with our main characters, I’m not sure annoyance is really the thing you wish to impart upon your audience.  Drake may very well be annoyed, but I don’t want to be feeling that even if it would make me connect with him.

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It’s also pretty bad that one of the scenes is a shameless rip off from Return of the Jedi.  It’s one thing to pay homage to something, it’s another to simply copy a scene and supplant your characters into it.  For those of you who have not seen Return of the Jedi, (What, have you been living under a rock?  (No offense to those of you who have actually been living under a rock)) Luke is brought before The Emperor by Darth Vader.  The Emperor wants to convert Luke to the Dark Side and encourages Luke to kill and replace Darth Vader (spoiler alert!).  Simply exchange Luke with Drake, Vader with Azrael, and The Emperor with St.Dumas, and you have your scene.  It doesn’t stop there either…Dumas totally uses the force!  Telekinesis, lighting, and a slew of other very Sith like powers are on display.  Drake even makes a Star Wars pun about the scenario!  That is ridiculous!  If it were just that line by itself, I’d probably be all for it, but in conjunction with every other thing that they pilfered from Star Wars, it’s so much overkill.  They seriously made a joke that is a reference to the very franchise they borrowed the scene from.  So not cool.  “I get that Star Wars is in the limelight right now, but do your own thing for crying out loud!”

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Since I let the cat out of the bag, why exactly would Dumas want Drake as a replacement for Valley anyway?  It should be fairly obvious that Drake is strong willed and not likely to succumb to The Orders wishes.  He may have gotten in under false pretenses, but it should be pretty clear to Dumas that Drake is hesitant.  Even if Dumas couldn’t read minds, it should be obvious from Drake’s mannerisms that he has no intention of being compliant.  It is also worth considering that while Drake has a very accomplished mind, he isn’t the best in the world at physical combat (Although, he does exhibit some very Batman-level skills in his fight with Azrael).  When you consider that Azrael is first and foremost an assassin, it just seems odd to replace him with someone who isn’t the best in that field of work.

I sure had a lot to complain about for this issue.  You’re probably wondering if I have anything positive to say.  While the general plot was merely acceptable, the story did have some nice action, and I also appreciated the world building they were going for.  Drake and Todd also had bits of business worked into the story that effectively highlighted their tenacity and fortitude.  While not really together for this issue, I’m still digging this partnership between the two of them and enjoy watching them work in sync.  The level of trust and comradery they seem to have for each other is quite palpable and very contagious.  Art is the other thing that I didn’t really have a problem with.  Admittedly, there isn’t anything that stands out as seriously noteworthy, but at the same time, it does everything it needs to do, so I have no complaints.

Odds and Ends:

bre15.3  That would have been the perfect time for Todd to throw in his signature humor and ask them if they wanted him to

“rub the lotion on his skin, lest he get the hose again”

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Bane was right, that is a ridiculous nickname.

Spoiler

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  • Remember how the first Batman Eternal was all about reminding us of Batman’s greatest hits, but instead of actually reliving them, we just got knockoffs that were merely meant to make us reminisce on days gone by.  Well, it looks like Batman&Robin Eternal has decided to play that card as well.  Now maybe this is just me, but does it bother anyone else in the slightest that so many Jason Todd stories are Joker-centric in nature.  I get that it was a major event in his life, but it seems to me that the character does have something more to offer beyond his connection to the Joker.
  • How exactly will this hallucination turn Todd into an Angel of Death?  Although, Todd does make more sense as a choice than Drake did.

Interesting Facts:

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  • From 1992-2006, there were a set of tertiary Batman books that supplemented everyone’s Batman addiction if picking up Detective Comics and Batman weren’t enough for you.  Batman: Shadow of the Bat, ran from 1992-2000.  When it was cancelled, it was replaced the very next month by Batman: Gotham Knights, which ran through till 2006.  This always made me lump them together in my mind as the same book.  Now maybe this was entirely a coincidence, but I couldn’t help but notice that both titles make an appearance within the dialogue.
  • There was a third book that I also personally lumped in with these two, Batman: Streets of Gotham.  Admittedly, it came 3 years after the end of Gotham Knights, but I always felt that it filled the void left by Knights.  Because of this, as I read this issue, I kept expecting to find a line of dialogue about Batman’s apprentices working the streets of Gotham, or something along those lines.

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  • Interestingly enough, the ongoing series Shadow of the Bat and Gotham Knights were both preceded by miniseries of roughly the same name.  Shadow of the Batman was a reprint of the classic Marshall Rogers/Steve Englehart run.  While the original came out in 77, and the reprint was from 85, I still see the title of the ongoing series from 2000 as an homage to this classic collection.
  • Gotham Nights and Gotham Nights II came out in 92 and 95, respectively.  This puts them much closer, time wise, to the ongoing series that later adopted their name.  Yes, I am aware that one is nights and the other knights.  But as I am sure you are aware, both titles were involving wordplay in their usage.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see Tim Drake put Azrael to shame.
  • You want to see Return of the Jedi, Batman&Robin Eternal style.
  • You like long-winded meaningless rigmarole.

Overall:

Overly wordy, somewhat nonsensical, and with a dash of plagiarism on the side.  While I have been enjoying the pairing of Drake and Todd, this issue definitely ranks as my least favorite installment of Batman&Robin Eternal to date.

SCORE: 4 / 10