Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #19


I review the 19th and latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, “Spyraling Down”!

I hope everyone had a Bat-tastic New DC Day yesterday!  My pull list was stuffed to the brim.  I picked up Batman & Robin Eternal #19, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3, Catwoman #49, and Arrow: The Dark Archer #3, and I’m gonna buy Batman: Arkham Knight — Batgirl/Harley Quinn one-shot as well.  It’s Thursday now, which means it’s time for my weekly review of Batman & Robin Eternal.  Warning: There will be spoilers for issue #19 past this point.

The 19th issue, titled “Spyraling Down”, is scripted by Tim Seeley and penciled by Paul Pelletier.  The best way to describe this one is a rapid-pace, jam-packed, non-stop thrill ride.  We begin with Mother at a coffee shop near Spyral HQ in Suffolk, England.  Mother seems so creepy doing normal civilian things, like ordering the morning special, so I have to praise the writers for throwing that in there.  That’s as calm as things get, though, as a Spryal school bus bursts through the shop before she can take a sip of her coffee.  It’s driven by the Ichthys-infected Spyral students, and it’s implied that they kill Mother.  Now, if Mother knew that she was making Spyral ground zero, and she also knew that Ichthys made its victims want to kill all adults, why would she be anywhere near Suffolk?

Back at HQ, the team deduces that the school’s infection with Ichthys was a diversion so Mother could get her hands on one of Spyral’s satellites to use for dispersing Ichthys globally.  At which point, Red Robin and Cassandra Cain catch the virus.  Now, here’s where the always-rotating cast of writers becomes a problem.  Last issue, Netz said that the room they are in is soundproof, and therefore the virus, which is being broadcast on the speakers in the school, can’t infect them.

In the meantime, Harper Row was also infected while grieving over the information that David Cain gave her in issue #18.  Red Hood goes down to the basement looking for her, and she attacks him under the influence of the virus.  David and Poppy Ashemore escape their holding cells, and then comes one of my favorite moments from the series.  On their escape route, David and Poppy run into an absolutely terrifying group of Spyral students, all wielding knives, crossbows, and axes and repeating Mother’s name.  David stops in his tracks, and stammers: “It’s…it’s beautiful.”  I can’t say enough about the New 52 portrayal of this character.  He is as evil as they come, and what makes him so much more intriguing is the sheer amount of pride for the work he and Mother accomplish.

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The issue concludes with a massive fight involving Red Hood, Dick Grayson, and Cass against the infected children.  During this fight, Red Hood says a line that actually made me laugh out loud: “I’ve had dreams where I wake up and have to fend off hordes of college girls… but it was more ‘Drake video’.  And less ‘John Carpenter Movie,’ y’know?”  To end the issue, Cass runs into Harper in the fight, and she subdues her with the fear toxin.  As Harper just learned that Cassandra killed her mother, once she hallucinates that Cass as a monster due to the toxin, she tries to strangle her as the issue concludes.  The way the story had been marketed, it sounded like Harper was actually going to become enemies with Cass after the aforementioned revelation.  But if the strife between the two is only a result of fear toxin, we’re getting cheated.

Next: Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #18

As far as action and getting my heart rate up go, “Spyraling Down” does the trick.  But the actual story has quite a few problems.  Also, the Batman flashbacks, which have been my favorite part of the majority of the issues, were absent.  I’d imagine there will be more going forward, probably taking place at a similar point in time to the one where he met with Cass, but their absence in issue #19 was felt.  I’ll give this one eight batarangs out of 10.  I enjoyed it, and it certainly has me pumped for issue #20, but it had potential to be a lot better.  Keep it locked to Caped Crusades for a review of the new Batman & Robin Eternal each week and for all your Batman news!