Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #20


I review the 20th and latest issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, “Spyraling Down”!

I hope everyone had a Bat-tastic New DC Day yesterday!  I just had one book on my pull list: Batman & Robin Eternal #20.  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 #20, titled “Spyraling Down”, sees Tim Seeley on scripting duties for the second issue in a row, with Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges doing the art.  I’m going to just put it out here right now that this issue is pretty much a mess.  I called the one last week a “non-stop thrill ride”, but this one is a non-stop thrill ride that jumped the track.  There are three different mini-teams we follow throughout.  Team #1 consists of Ms. Gold and Ms. Pantoja, a Spyral teacher and student trying to fend off the students Mother has infected.  Team #2 is Dick Grayson, Red Hood, Harper Row, and Cassandra Cain, who are also fighting off Mother’s “children”.  And Team #3 is Dr. Netz, Red Robin, and Helena Bertinelli trying to shut down the generators powering the speakers.  Just about every page switches focus between teams, and it becomes very confusing.

Ms. Gold and Ms. Pantoja trap themselves in the St. Hadrian’s gym to stay away from the children.  Ms. Gold tells Ms. Pantoja that she’s going to have to kill her classmates to protect them should they break through into the gym.  This scene had the potential to be really emotionally-compelling, but it was dulled by being interspersed between the other two stories.  Eventually, when the children’s infection is stopped when Red Robin shuts down the generators, Ms. Pantoja hugs her classmates, rejoicing at not having had to kill them.  I find it kind of hard to believe that Spyral doesn’t teach their students how to not take kill shots, but looking past that, it’s a really suspenseful and frightening scenario having to protect yourself and your teacher by killing your friends.

As for the Cass and Harper fight, my only complaint is that it’s happening while Harper’s under the effects of fear gas.  She has been teased in the solicitations as becoming the Robins’ greatest enemy due to the revelation about Cass having killed her mother.  I’m sure that she is mad at Cass, but if the only reason that she is being an enemy to her is because she’s under the fear gas, then that’s a letdown.  The hallucinations are drawn well, and the dialogue between Harper and Cass is pretty gripping, though.  The fact that she got more words out of Cass than she’s spoken the whole series is a nice touch, as Cass begged her to see that they are not enemies.  Based on the dialogue, you’d think Cass has figured out that Harper found out about what she did, but it’s unclear.  One other thing I want to point out about this fight is Red Hood trying to convince Harper to stop fighting Cass by saying that he himself has become “more of a Red Robin than a Red Hood”, so she can do so too.  This proves that the change of heart he had in issue #16 will have lasting effects in Batman & Robin Eternal, but I am still skeptical about whether it will carry over into other books.  Harper and Cass are both kidnapped by Poppy Ashemore at the end, and I can only hope that there will be further conflict between them once the fear gas effects wear off.

The whole “Criosphinxes” eye thing that Poppy and David Cain do to Dick and Helena, respectively, really came out of left field.  Apparently the Somnus satellite passwords were in their Hypnos technology, and the “Criosphinxes” eye allowed Mother to acquire it.  I didn’t see it coming at all that Helena built Somnus to wipe the world’s memory of Dick having been Nightwing.  That seems like it is going through way too much trouble and taking way too big a risk just to make everyone forget that.

The last page of “Spyraling Down” sees Damian Wayne join the party.  I think that means every Bat-family member other than Batwing has made an appearance in this series.  We’ll have to see whether Damian will just make a cameo like Batgirl did, or will stick around to finish this out.  There’s six issues left, and my guess is that they will have to do with the Bat-family trying to stop Mother before she activates the Somnus satellite.  The way the solicitations sound, they don’t stop her in time, and we get an all-out battle between the Bat-family and Mother’s children.  James Tynion IV is back on script duties next week, so here’s to him writing a much clearer story than did Seeley.

Next: Review: Batman & Robin Eternal #19

Issue #20 gets eight batarangs out of 10.  The three stories going on were all exciting and interesting, but the way they were pieced together was just too messy and confusing.  Also, the past two issues have suffered from their lack of flashbacks, which had been some of the best scenes of the series as a whole.  I was actually a really big fan of the art in this one.  It didn’t suffer from weirdly-drawn faces as did several of its predecessors.  Let me know your thoughts on “Spyraling Down” in the comments, and be sure to stay tuned to Caped Crusades for the latest Batman & Robin Eternal review each week and for all your Batman news!