Batman and Robin Eternal #21 review

BR Eternal 21

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The origin of Mother, paired with some of the best Batman snippets I’ve seen in months.  Do I really need to say anything else?  I don’t think so….but I’m going to.

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Batman isn’t even the main course of this particular chapter, but he completely steals the show as far as I’m concerned.  Every single piece that he is involved in just screams Batman to me, and it’s almost near perfect in every single way.  From revealing internal monologues, to utilizing Bruce Wayne to Batman’s ends, and even bending people to his will through intimidation alone….it’s all there, and it’s simply fantastic.

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I particularly enjoyed this quick three panel montage that shows how Batman hunted down his quarry.  In and of itself, it is perfectly apt.  Showing that he knocked some heads together until he found the right ones to clonk for the answers he sought.  But it’s so much more than that.  For long time readers, I’m sure a plethora of scenes flashed before your eyes.  Much like life flashing before your eyes when you have a near death experience, but instead of regretting not having kissed little Susie Joe Johnson in 6th grade (All names and events are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental), you relived a hundred different instances where Batman beat the confession out of some lowly little perp.

This story also capitalizes on the necessity for Batman to know everything.  While you’d have to be crazy to refer to Batman as a physically weak specimen, he is also far from the most powerful being in the DC Universe.  However, a large determining factor that makes him so formidable is his mind, his accumulation of knowledge, and his need to stay informed of everything that is going on around him.  As far as Batman is aware, Mother was defeated, but that doesn’t stop him from returning to Europe to discover the whys behind her dementia.  To Batman, the study of the corrupt mind is just as important a part to defeating the criminal condition as is being able to tracking them down and physically pound them.  The fact that Batman kept digging, even though the day was won, makes me retroactively wonder how many times he poured over the details of other cases after they were finished and we just didn’t get to see it played out.  It stands to reason that this is the kind of thing he would do in order to know as much as he does.

As I said in a previous review, Batman&Robin Eternal has gone from assassins and subterfuge to the all-out threat of world domination, and I wasn’t particularly fond of that.  This flashback issue returns us to a simpler set of circumstances, which felt more personal than the over the top action set pieces from the last couple installments.  It’s a perfect example that you don’t have to go big in order to strike a huge emotional cord.  When something is on a smaller scale, you have more opportunity to make a connection rather than just having a general need for disaster aversion.  Since the heart of the story was always about children, I expected things to stay small.  For Batman, I think it would have been enough to stop an assassin who abused (if we can even call it that) children.  It didn’t need to go global.  After-all, a single life is just as important to him as the lives of hundreds.  Sure, the more people you save, the more good you’ve done.  But I think it’s important to recognize that small victories can be just as monumental  to the individuals they affect.

The last story element I want to address is the similarity that keeps coming up between Batman and Mother.  While one could draw loose similarities between a couple of things regarding their M.O., I’d say they are so thin that Batman need not really concern himself with how closely he might be walking the line.  Batman empowers children, Mother dominates them.  Batman takes tragedies and turns them into a force for good, but Mother creates tragedies in order to create more tragedies.   One could say that Batman needlessly endangers children, but at least he isn’t the one directly causing them injury.  Now that we have seen Mother’s background, I have to imagine she was a little unhinged to begin with.  Granted, a great tragedy befalls her, but you have to be a little off your rocker to begin with to allow something like what happened to her to springboard you into a lifelong labor of assassination and child mutilation.

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Art for this issue is brought to us by Tony S. Daniel, and I’m loving it.  There are the occasional peculiar looking faces, but I get the feeling that he was going for exaggerated/almost-caricature-like portrayals on a couple of the cast to make them more memorable, so I’m not really opposed to it.  While I love his look for Batman, let’s not discount how good his Bruce Wayne looks either.  When I picture Bruce in my head, for the most part, he basically looks like Daniel’s rendering, and that’s saying a lot.  I can’t pinpoint one specific artist over the years and say he nails exactly what Bruce looks like to me, since my Bruce is an amalgamation of every Bruce I have ever seen, but I feel like Daniel has taken some of the most defining characteristics of Bruce and incorporated them into his work.

By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I didn’t talk too extensively about Mother.  If you haven’t read this issue yet, I have no desire to ruin her story for you.  Suffice it to say, it’s every bit as messed up as I was expecting/wanting it to be.  And that very final moment with her….geez.

SHOW SPOILER ▼

Interesting Facts:

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  • You all know you thought of this scene from TDKR when you saw that shot of Batman hanging Marcus Row upside down.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see some A grade Batmaning going on.
  • You want to know the secret behind Mother’s creation.
  • You’ve enjoyed the more intimate/less action oriented moments of Eternal.

Overall:

While the background story behind Mother is probably the thing that most people will take away from this issue, I was personally in awe of all the wonderful Batman moments that this story dished out.  Even though I was fully engrossed in Mother’s demented genesis, the Batman stuff still managed to win me over.  For those of you who have been missing Batman, I’m sure you’ll get a real kick out of his scenes.

SCORE: 9 / 10

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