Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #10


I review the tenth and latest issue of the weekly Batman & Robin Eternal series, “He Whom God Helps”!

I hope everyone had a Bat-tastic New DC Day yesterday!  On my pull list were Batman/TMNT #1 and Batman & Robin Eternal #10.  I’m waiting until tonight to dive into see Batman and the Turtles team up (I still can’t believe it’s actually happening!), but last night I read the latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, “He Whom God Helps”.  It was epic, so let’s get the weekly review started as we approach the halfway point of the series.  Warning: Past this sentence, there will be spoilers.

Issue #9 left readers with a big cliffhanger, as Azrael was revealed to be the “Angel of Death” that Red Robin and Red Hood have been following leads towards.  Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, who are in their second issue on writing duties, start this issue off right where the last one left off.  Bane faces off with Azrael, and it makes for a great fight sequence to see such a brute force go head-to-head with a trained swordsman like that.  Red Robin and Red Hood ditch Bane (ehh, he probably deserved that) to gather the intel they came for and escape.

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Red Robin has to talk Red Hood through downloading data from the Order while he fights off the minions, because Red Hood was running out of bullets (had he not been low on ammo, it obviously would’ve made more sense the other way around).  This was a good job on the writers’ parts to really show how skilled Red Robin is.  Not only is he fighting off a ton of men, he is also concentrating on stealing computer data.  The two former Robins make a pretty good team, and whenever the Red Hood/Arsenal book ends, I’d be open to seeing Red Hood and Red Robin together in a buddy-cop type of series.  When Azrael was revealed last week, I was very curious about his identity, because the only Azrael that had been introduced in New 52 continuity to that point was Michael Lane.  However, the computer says that he’s Jean-Paul Valley (yes!!!).  He was commissioned to Mother by the Order in exchange for the malware that led Red Hood and Red Robin to Santa Prisca.  I was so glad that we finally get some answers here.  I’m thrilled that Jean-Paul, a pretty legendary character in Batman mythology, is making his New 52 debut, and it looks like his backstory is getting a pretty cool new spin.  Also, he neatly ties together the connection between Mother and the Order for us.

Red Hood and Red Robin then try to help Azrael realize that he is one of Mother’s children.  Azrael doesn’t really want to hear this though, and he fights them.  We don’t see if he defeated Bane, and I don’t really know if that should be implied since Azrael is fine and Bane is not seen again.  This fight includes Azrael doing some mysterious mind-trick on Red Robin, which makes him think that they have failed Bruce.  What he saw during the mind-trick we don’t know, but the theme of the Robins not being good enough for Bruce just keeps popping back up.  In another fun nod to the 1966 Batman film, Red Hood uses shark repellent as he and Red Robin escape from Azrael by means of the shark-infested waters of Santa Prisca.

Our flashback in this issue was a shocker.  And I really hope all is not as it seems.  Bruce comes back to the skull-lined Prague Batcave after his encounter with Mother in issue #9.  He is pretty pissed at Dick for not remaining covert when he was tracking Scarecrow, and Dick retaliates and flees.  There has been tension building between the Dynamic Duo throughout this title, which makes me think that what they say they are mad about probably isn’t what’s actually on their mind.  Bruce is really struggling with feeling that he is guilty of the same thing Mother does and now also with the revelation that he actually does want a better Robin.  Dick meanwhile still feels that he is letting Bruce down, which is probably why he tried to take down Scarecrow on his own in the first place.

The flashback continues, and here’s where it got really hard for me to stomach.  I love monologues (one of my favorite things about Frank Miller and The Dark Knight Returns), and Lanzing and Kelly treat us with a really insightful Bruce one as he returns to Mother.  We all knew it was coming, but this is why I think there has to be something we don’t know — how could Bruce do this?  His monologue is a story about how he beat up a kid in grade school because the kid was taunting him about his parents’ failures, even though Bruce knew deep down that some of them were real.  This is why he returns to Mother: so he doesn’t make the mistake of ignoring the truth again.  This means he believes she was right about him wanting her to make him a better Robin.  Again, how could Bruce sink so low?  My theory right now is that Cassandra Cain is the Robin that Bruce commissioned, but that the project was botched (maybe/hopefully intentionally by Bruce).  Cassandra still doesn’t have a New 52 origin story, and this would explain why the puzzle of her character is being solved in Batman & Robin Eternal.

For a second-straight issue, we didn’t get much of the Dick Grayson/Bluebird/Cassandra Cain storyline.  The couple pages that were included, however, continued the trend of cliffhangers, as Dick and Bluebird meet a new player named “The Sculptor” to end this issue.  I’m assuming she’s working for Mother, and in that case her role in Mother’s business is pretty clear as well, based on her name and the solicitations saying that she “reshapes minds”.  I’m hoping that next issue is Dick/Bluebird-centric, so we can find out more.  The Sculptor immediately knows Bluebird is Harper Row when they meet, so she might know and provide a lot of information to this story.

Next: Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #9

Batman & Robin Eternal just keeps getting better and better.  I’ve got to give “He Whom God Helps” five batarangs out of five.  It excels with its fight sequences, dialogue, and story progression.  I’m so excited for next week’s issue to see the rest of Bruce and Mother’s conversation, who The Sculptor is, and what’s in store for Red Hood and Red Robin.  Drop your thoughts on issue #10 in the comments, and keep it tuned to Caped Crusades for each week’s Batman & Robin Eternal review and for all your Batman news!