Batman & Robin Eternal #16 Review

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"I told you we'd all fit in the picture." 

A righteous sword burns, a villain heel-face turns, and yet I yearn for this plot thread to adjourn, in this sixteenth issue of DC's weekly Batman disappointment. Still more of Tim & Jason's Awesome Show Great Job, which is just as dreadfully uninteresting as it has been for what seems like forever. To think I was looking forward to seeing their team-up adventures some time ago. Now I just want them both to be erased from continuity. But hey, at least we get some cool flashback material.

 

I'd like to think Scarecrow was groaning at Dick's quip.

The dude with all the cables and crap hooked up to him explains that the Order of Dumas, inventive cybermonks that they are, invented the Ichthys process to make "conversions" into their faith, and Mother was interested in that technology as an upgrade from Scarecrow's trauma toxin. This is how they were able to brainwash Jean-Paul Valley, Azrael, into being their willing servant for so long, and it's a process that they were at this point using on Jason Todd to "convert" him. Somehow this is all much more interesting as I read it in this paragraph than it actually comes off in the comic. Perhaps because the whole idea of the Order of St. Dumas in this continuity is just... needless. This is worse than when Scott Snyder turned Mr. Freeze into a guy obsessed with a cryogenically frozen woman who wasn't really his wife after all (he's just delusional). At least that didn't strip his story of tragedy, it just turned it into a different kind (though a bit weaker). This... this change is just... stupid. But then again, with the League of Assassins , Court of Owls, and other groups out there, maybe there's isn't any more room for another ancient order of assassins in the DC world.

 

"The artists who render me, however, have frequently been terrible."

Azrael coming onto the side of the (boring) angels is likewise just as sudden, awkward, and unremarkable as everything else in this part of the story. I do not feel triumph for Jean-Paul, I do not feel relief that Tim is out of danger, I don't feel tension when the killer monks surround Tim and Azrael, and I don't feel for Jason's struggle in his mind. It's just a lot of technobabble, boring mook fighting, and overly sappy sentiment over Jason's past that's been retread so many times they're paving over it and putting a highway there.

When the fuck is DC going to admit that they know A Death in the Family is the only Jason Todd story anybody remembers, and that's the reason they keep exploiting it? Gee, it's almost as if they never should have brought him back to life, or maybe kept him out of the new canon after the reboot in 2011. Nobody at the company is even trying to mold great new territory for the character  (have any of you tried to suffer though that awful book he's in now?). Either write him a decent storyline or kill him off, DC. Actually, I have a better idea. JUST GET BACK TO DICK GRAYSON, HARPER, AND CASSIE. Nobody, no-fucking-body gives a shit about Jason Todd's issues with Joker killing him anymore. Shit, the Joker's died and been resurrected more than Jason at this point, you don't see him bitching about it.

 

What a coincidence. Neither has this book.

And DC must truly, truly hate the Dixon and Moench stuff from the 1990s, because they've made these otherwise likeable characters from great books utterly unpaleatable. Tim Drake? Formerly the ace detective Robin who wasn't just a one-note tech geek, but a formidable fighter who travelled the world like Batman, and never met a girl who didn't want him. Now? A boring, bland milksop empty-souled "smart guy" in some of the worst Teen Titans books ever made and a complete nonentity in this series. He had more personality in the first Eternal! This guy was once my favorite Robin. Now? I don't know. I just don't know. And Azrael... man, he was a Denny O'Neil character. Sure, his comic run's quality was all over the place, even considering O'Neil's great talent, but this is ridiculously oversimplifying him. Once a man haunted by the system that made him an assassin, yearning to overcome the legacy of his father and those before him... now he's just a plot device. Suck it, DC.

Also, what's this I'm hearing about Scott Snyder being taken off the main Batman book and put on Detective Comics? Are you kiding me? This weekly aside, Snyder's work (Court of Owls, Zero Year, Superheavy) has been some of the strongest Batman work in decades, and sells very well, often the highest-selling book on the stands. Sure, he'll still be writing for Batman in 'Tec, but nobody fucking reads 'Tec, it's been an embarrassment since the reboot, aside from a couple of stories. Is this how you treat the guy who is currently your most celebrated writer? Well, maybe he asked for this so he can have time to teach those DC writing workshops, who knows? Maybe he should take a more active role in THIS book, because it's turning into garbage.

I did love seeing the classic Batman & Robin beatdown of Scarecrow, though. Even if it was probably a staged ruse. Speaking of which, next issue sees Batman shoot people dead!

- Penguin Truth
(2016)

Next: Bang, Bang, My Batman Shot Me Down

Story: James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder
Script: Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Artist: Andrea Mutti, Roger Robinson, and Goran Sudzuka
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Lettering By: A Larger World
Cover: David Finch, Scott Hanna, and Brad Anderson
Editor: Chris Conroy
Asst. Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Group Editor: Mark Doyle
Batman Created By Bob K--wait...

Still too little credit for Finger. But maybe he wouldn't want it for this crappy issue.