Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #16


I review the 16th issue of the weekly Batman & Robin Eternal series, “The Dying Joke”!

With everything going on right now with DC Week, New DC Day is still a constant, so I hope everyone had a Bat-tastic one yesterday!  I had three books on my pull list: Batman & Robin Eternal #16, Batgirl #47, and the final issue of Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis.  It’s Thursday now, which means it’s time for my weekly review of the latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, “The Dying Joke”.  Warning: There will be spoilers for the 16th issue past this point.

Well, I was wrong.  The reveal of which Robin was commissioned from Mother didn’t occur in this one.  That being said, we are clearly getting closer, but I’m done speculating about when it’ll be now that I’ve been wrong so many times.  This issue begins with a Batman and Robin flashback, and unfortunately the first thing that stood out from it was the art, which I’m really not a fan of.  I haven’t had many complaints about the rotating cast of artists throughout the series, but Andrea Mutti doesn’t do it for me.  Just look at Robin’s face in the flashbacks, and you can probably see why.

Batman and Robin take down Scarecrow in Cairo, but Batman tells Robin to take Scarecrow back to Gotham while he clears out the fear gas.  What he is really doing takes us full circle to the first issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, as we see Batman about to shoot a kid’s parents.  The writers (Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly back again) are doing a terrific job keeping us as the readers in the dark almost as much as Robin, because even in Batman’s internal dialogue it’s hard to tell if he’s got some plan to double-cross Mother or if he is actually going to go through with murder because he wants a new Robin.

In present time, Red Hood, Red Robin, and Azrael are in quite the pickle after the cliffhanger at the end of last issue.  Red Hood is being forced to relive the memory of his death at the hands of The Joker over and over again, but Ichthys is changing the memory so that he is actually saved by his future self.  Over the years since his death, different writers have been able to do so many things with that event.  From stories of how it affected Bruce Wayne personally, to the Under the Hood arc (and film), to the Arkham Knight version, this actually is one of the coolest things that I’ve seen done with the tragedy.

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Red Robin really shines in this issue, as his brains are on display when he first convinces Azrael that St. Dumas is an unworthy person to serve and then when he talks Red Hood out of his hallucination.  The scene really hit me hard, as Red Robin has to convince Jason to allow The Joker to kill him.  To think about getting to relive a terrible trauma as if the tides turned in your favor, and then having to allow yourself to instead relive it as it really happened takes so much self-discipline.  Red Robin is able to get through to Jason, who comes to a realization: “I don’t think I’ve been good for a really long time.  But I think I’m finally ready to try.”  I don’t know if that’ll stick, but this could signal a big attitude change for the character.

Next: Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #15

I would say this is a middle-of-the-pack issue of the series so far.  I’ll give it five batarangs out of five, because while I wasn’t thrilled with the majority of the issue, the Death in the Family hallucination was one of the top moments of all 16 issues.  Issue #17 will see Red Hood and Red Robin joining back up with Dick, Bluebird, and Cassandra Cain, which makes me excited, because their story has been the better of the two.  I’m also curious to see whether Azrael will return as an ally of the Bat-family in the future, whether in this series or in another.  As I said, thanks to Red Robin he had a change of heart, but he did stay behind in Gnosis.  Let me know what you thought of “The Dying Joke” in the comments, and be sure to keep it locked to Caped Crusades for the new review each week and for all your Batman news!