Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #11


I review the 11th and latest issue of the Batman & Robin Eternal series, “Mind Fields”!

I hope everybody had a Bat-tastic New DC Day yesterday!  It was certainly a big one for me, as I had Batman & Robin Eternal #11, Batman: Europa #2, and Batman: Arkham Knight — Genesis #5 on my pull list (and I’m one issue behind, but I’ll wind up picking up Batgirl #46 also).  It’s Thursday now, and that means it’s time for my weekly review of Batman & Robin Eternal.  Warning: There will be spoilers past this point.

I read the latest issue last night, and I couldn’t wait to put the pen to the paper about this one.  My lesson of the day is to never judge a book by it’s cover.  That lesson is especially important in regards to comics though, where the cover artist is generally not the same person who pencils the interior.  After the cliffhanger in the tenth issue, I was excited to read about The Sculptor.  If you’d read the solicits, you already knew who she was, but it was the information that she might possess that I wanted to know so badly.  When I saw the cover for issue #11, however, I was thrown off a bit.  Once you dive into the story, you understand why they went with that cover, but it still wasn’t a good choice.

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This issue, however, is my favorite issue of any title that I have read since the New 52 launched in 2011.  It is that good.  Ed Brisson takes over script duties for the first time in Batman & Robin Eternal, and he weaves an unbelievable tale that takes us back to the origin of Cassandra Cain.  Issue #11 begins right where the previous issue left us, with Bluebird and Dick Grayson having tracked down The Sculptor looking for answers about David Cain.  The Sculptor reveals what we already suspected: that she works for Mother, sculpting her “children” into the roles that they were purchased to fill.  She says that she wants to help Dick and Bluebird stop Mother, but she doesn’t say why.  I’m surprised neither Dick nor Bluebird even made an attempt to get that out of her, but she proceeds to use telepathy to tap into Bluebird’s mind (Dick’s is secured somehow by Spyral) in order to show her what she needs to see in order to take down Mother.

More holes are filled than have been filled in most of the previous issues combined.  The big reveal is Cassandra’s New 52 origin, which is an incredibly tragic and dramatic story.  I was shocked to learn that David Cain is Orphan, and that he used his daughter Cassandra as a private experiment.  He deemed that Mother’s new method of using Scarecrow’s fear gas to induce the traumas that her children each suffer (instead of acting them out in real life) produced a weaker product.  I had been trying to figure out for weeks now the connection that Scarecrow had with Mother.  Now we finally know, and it fits perfectly.  Scarecrow has always been one of my very favorite Batman villains, but I also feel that writers often have trouble knowing how to use him correctly.  Props on the way they’re using him here, though.

What David is doing to Cassandra is sickening.  He bans her from any human interactions, and he forces her to watch him slit the throats in cold blood of what look like hundreds of people.  The only thing he teaches her is how to fight (and kill).  When he is satisfied that this training is complete, he shows her to Mother, but Mother is furious and says she never wants to see her again.  My theory about Cassandra having been the Robin that Batman commissioned from Mother has been debunked, but I believe this origin story is going to go down as one of the greatest in DC Comics history.

Next, Harper and The Sculptor go to Gotham City, where they see Cassandra take the life of an innocent woman.  This is where the story got really good, because while it is a new origin, it connects back to her pre-New 52 background.  The Sculptor tells Harper that Cassandra is trying to atone for the murder that she committed, just like the original version of the character was.  Another thing that connects back to her old origin is that The Sculptor says that she was taught to read movements and gestures as if they were a language, which touches back to her famous dance that she performed as a gift to Jean-Paul Valley.

The final place that The Sculptor takes Harper in her mind is where the Bruce Wayne part of the story left off last issue.  He is meeting with Mother, and he asks her when he will get to meet his new Robin.  I’ve got to hold out hope that Bruce is just acting in order to infiltrate Mother’s organization, but it is so unsettling to see Bruce doing this without knowing his point of view.  Harper freaks out about this, and she begins speaking during the telepathic connection, causing Dick to snap both her and The Sculptor out of it.  What she said was “Batman” though, so Dick demands that The Sculptor allows him to see that vision as well, at the risk of the Spyral security frying their brains.  It’s here where we’re left with the ultimate cliffhanger, as presumably we will finally get to see who Mother has made for Batman (and Dick’s reaction).

This issue focused entirely on the Dick and Bluebird section of the story, which was a good move, because this part demanded full attention.  Just as we as the readers are, Dick and Bluebird are finally piecing together the puzzle that is this mystery, and it is getting darker and darker.  I am so eager for next week’s issue, because I don’t even have a theory anymore as to which Robin Mother has made for Batman.  Brisson continues writing on issue #12 also, so I am expecting another phenomenal read.

Next: Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #10

It goes without saying, but issue #11, “Mind Fields”, warrants five batarangs out of five.  Let me know in the comments what you thought of it, and if you have a theory about Bruce and Mother, I’d love to hear that as well.  Be sure to keep it locked to Caped Crusades for the weekly reviews of this series and for all your Batman news!