Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #9


I review the ninth issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, released yesterday!

I hope that everyone had a Bat-tastic New DC Day yesterday!  I know I did, as my pull list featured Batman & Robin Eternal #9 and Batman: Arkham Knight #11, the latest issues of two of my favorite titles right now.  Now that it’s Thursday, I’m going to review that latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, titled “The Last to Die.”  Warning: There will be spoilers in this review.

When I read the first four pages of this issue a couple of days ago, I was a tad bit apprehensive about it.  Red Hood and Red Robin’s part of this story hasn’t been nearly as intriguing to me as that of Dick Grayson, Bluebird, and Cassandra Cain.  Bane has also never been one of my favorite villains in Batman’s rogues gallery (the only really memorable thing he’s ever done is break Batman’s back).  And finally, the creative team was switched up again, after Genevieve Valentine did some phenomenal work writing the previous two issues.

However, this issue read so nicely, and it included what may be my favorite scene from this book so far.  It had more humor in it than any of the previous eight issues.  I’m definitely the kind of guy who prefers very dark and gritty Batman stories, but part of that is because not enough writers find a middle ground.  Well, the key to finding that middle ground is to hand the bulk of the humor to the Robins and allow them to provide the comic relief.  This issue jumps right in with a hilarious conversation between Red Hood and Red Robin as they’re piloting a plane to follow their “Angel of Death” lead to Santa Prisca.  Red Robin is accusing Red Hood of stealing stuff from Batman, but the best line was when Red Robin says “I’ve got three different forms of shark repellent on my person at all times,” a nod of course to the 1966 Batman film.

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So, the two former Robins crash land onto the island, where they realize that The Order of St. Dumas has taken over and built a church on top of the prison.  You can imagine this does not sit well with a certain native of the island — Bane.  In the most unlikely of alliances, Red Hood and Red Robin team up with the venom-less Bane to infiltrate the church.  Apparently, Bane’s former soldiers have been initiated into the order, and they are being used as test-subjects.  The person behind this, the “Angel of Death”, is revealed to be none other than Azrael.

This series just keeps giving us more and more pieces of information, but it’s not getting much easier to piece some of it together.  While we know that The Order of St. Dumas is working with Mother, we don’t know in what capacity.  While we know that they are testing some type of substance, we don’t know what it is.  And they definitely left us with a cliffhanger in this issue, because which Azrael is this?  Only Michael Lane’s Azrael has appeared in The New 52 thus far, so I’m eager to see where they are taking this.

Meanwhile, the short couple of pages involving Dick Grayson’s part of this mission didn’t answer much more.  Cassandra Cain is still on the run (because everyone knows that it’s wise go into hiding when a friend of your’s touches your hair).  Harper Row wants to go look for her, but Dick thinks it’s more important that they stay focused on the mission.  There’s more of Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly’s humorous writing in this section, where Harper essentially tells Dick that his name suits him quite well.  When Harper explains her backstory to Dick, they bond though, and she agrees to help him look through mission files.

Finally, I get to write about maybe the best part of this series so far: Bruce meeting with Mother again.  Throughout Batman & Robin Eternal, I have really enjoyed how eerily Mother is being portrayed.  My spine tingled when Bruce said that the meeting place was whispered to him by a child on the street and that the time was sang to him by a street musician.  That is a real representation of the power of Mother.  Bruce arrives to the meeting spot in a dark alley, and she immediately exposes him as Batman.  The look in Bruce’s eyes upon her saying this was drawn beautifully by Roge Antonio, a look I have only ever seen cross his face when he sees The Joker in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.  She exposes what I’m assuming has been on the back of the mind of every fan reading this title: that Bruce deep down might actually want to use her to get a better Robin.  Bruce denies this and flees, which Mother and Orphan allow him to do, because she says she knows he’ll be back.

I really cannot stress enough how much I loved that scene.  Even for just a split second, when a villain can make Bruce Wayne that vulnerable, you know that they mean business.  And the scariest thing is that all signs have still been pointing to Bruce going back to Mother.  Another question that this did bring back to my attention is in what way is Scarecrow working with Mother?  She uses him to figure out that Bruce is Batman, but is he just her pawn or is there more to it?

Next: Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #8

This issue no doubt gets five batarangs out of five, and I can’t wait for next week!  Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Roge Antonio will all be back, so here’s to hoping they continue their good work.  Based on the solicitation, it sounds like Red Hood and Red Robin will still be in Santa Prisca, so we can get more Azrael information, and Dick and Harper follow another lead.  The fact that there is no mention of what Bruce is doing makes me think that we could be in for some big news.  Keep it locked to Caped Crusades for continuing coverage of this weekly and for all your Batman news!