Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #18


I review the 18th issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, “Past Projections”!

I hope everyone had a Bat-tastic New DC Day yesterday!  It was a slightly bigger one for me, as I had Batman & Robin Eternal #18, Batgirl #48, and the final issue of Batman: Europa on my pull list.  It’s Thursday now, which means it’s time for my weekly review of Batman & Robin Eternal.  Warning: There will be spoilers past this point.

Issue #18, titled “Past Projections”, is scripted by Ed Brisson and penciled by Scot Eaton.  It starts off with much of the Bat-family at Spyral HQ, trying to make sense of Mother’s Ichthys virus.  As we know from what happened to Red Hood in Gnosis, the virus makes you relive your worst trauma over and over again, but altered so that you come out on top.  The problem that I see here is that Red Hood’s death at the hands of The Joker is a far worse trauma than anything the majority of children have experienced, so it seems to me the virus would be less effective against others.

Anyway, the team deduces that Mother is going to distribute the virus through speakers in schools, including Spyral’s spy-training school, St. Hadrian’s.  I must say, it feels awfully coincidental that right as they come to that conclusion, the virus begins dispersing.  The team appears to be safe in Spyral’s control room, but they’ve obviously got to get out to stop the infected children and stop Mother.  When Dick Grayson is assigning jobs to everybody, he realizes Harper Row isn’t there.

Throughout the issue, she’s actually been down in the basement talking to David Cain.  He has been portrayed as so sadistic the past two issues, and he has really become a character that I love to hate.  I haven’t made a decision about whether I like pre-Flashpoint or New 52 Cassandra Cain better, but I’m definitely a fan of New 52 David.  As he is explaining to her what I had assumed, that Cassandra killed her father, flashbacks of Batman, Mother, and Orphan are mixed-in flawlessly.

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Batman had subdued both Mother and Orphan, but Mother (always the forward-thinker) set up a live video feed of Cassandra on her mission to murder Harper’s parents.  However, Cassandra lets Harper’s father get away.  It still isn’t clear to me whether she didn’t expect him to run instead of try to save his wife, or if she just couldn’t bring herself to orphan Harper.  Mother tells Batman that Harper is his responsibility, now that he has indirectly taken away one of her parents.  Then Mother appears to off herself with cyanide (she obviously doesn’t actually die or doesn’t stay dead).  The writers threw us for a great curveball with “Batman’s Darkest Hour”.  He obviously didn’t shoot anyone’s parents, but he made a mistake in his pursuit of Mother, and it cost a girl her mother.  Harper is devastated as David recounts this event to her, and we see her grieving as issue #18 comes to an end.

The solicitations have been hinting that Harper may turn on the Bat-family now that she’s learned this secret and become “the most dangerous foe [they] have ever faced”.  It seems like a stretch that she would turn on all of them, rather than just Cassandra, but maybe they try to protect Cassandra, and she is willing to go through anything to get to her target.  The other thing that I’m really curious about is that David told Harper that Cassandra wanted to kill (she wasn’t just under his influence).  Whether this was him just taunting Harper or whether it’s the truth is something I’d really like the answer to.

Next: Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #17

This issue gets 9 batarangs out of 10.  All the issues have done a pretty good job of delivering multiple story lines, but this one excelled in weaving together past and present.  I mentioned above a couple of story points that didn’t click, so that detracted from it a little, and also the art was inconsistent (what is up with page 18?).  The story did keep me on the edge of my seat all the way through, and that’s just as important as anything.  I can’t wait for issue #19 next Wednesday, as Dick presumably finds Harper.  Let me know what you thought of “Past Projections”, and keep it locked to Caped Crusades for the weekly Batman & Robin Eternal reviews and for all your Batman news!