Batman & Robin Eternal #5 Review

Topics: 

"I'll teach you not to make me relevant!"

 

Cass takes a limb, Dick angers Tim, and the artwork looks grim in this fifth issue of DC's weekly Grayson adventure, Batman & Robin: Eternal. We see where Cassandra made her bones, get more of Batman and Robin's pursuit of Scarecrow, Harper makes a quick and clever move, and Tim Drake has a much-needed personality infusion which I hope lasts. Poppy pops up again, Tim's parents' house is... something else, and for Bat's sake, why are there so many different pencilers in this issue?! There's a cop-out, but I won't drop out, when we get a bit more of my favorite Robin's personal life.

 

I think that thing might be a secret bathroom. Sounds like you left the sink on, Cass.

The issue begins with a flashback to Batman and Robin's continuing pursuit of Scarecrow. They stake out a church nearby his apartment, where Dr. Crane meets with none other than the hooded Orphan. As usual, Crane is full of bluster and self-aggrandizement only surpassed by guys like Riddler and Joker. He also has to make it clear how clever he is to whomever he talks to, and thinks he has the advantage because Orphan has been hitting Crane's fear toxin to stay lucid. Our white-garbed assassin is less than impressed with the good doctor, however, and summons none other than Cassandra Cain to put him in his place. Apparently Cassie had been working in tandem with Orphan in the past, but somehow the Dynamic Duo missed out on encountering her. I'm incredibly curious as to the newer continuity's early Batman and Robin adventures. In fact, I'd read a whole new series dedicated to those years to see how some of these early encounters with the rogue's gallery went down.

 

Stained glassed windows by FCO.

(Not seen: Batman and Robin picking pieces of glass out of their costumes, treating glass cuts.)

Bluebird and Cass make their way to the same church in the present, which is now owned by "the order of Saint Dumas", which in the old continuity was actually a clan of assassins formed around a fake saint which included Jean-Paul Valley, Azrael. I'm not exactly sure whether this reference is a clue or just that, a reference. While I wasn't a regular reader of the Azrael book, it was written by my favorite comic book writer of all time, Denny O'Neil, and Azrael was a big part of 90s Batman lore, even becoming Batman for a time. With how large the Batman cast has become in the past year, I can't decide whether I'd welcome Jean-Paul returning or not. Some are speculating Orphan is him, among other theories.

 

Actually, lemmings don't actually do that.

On the subject of Harper Row and Cassandra Cain, it seems like though Harper is suspicious of the mostly mute girl, and with good reason, they're becoming closer as they struggle against Orphan. While Harper is a cynical girl, she can sense an earnestness in Cass, and comforts her after the hard fought confrontation. Instead of suspecting she was lured into a trap, she's sensitive to Cass' exhaustion. Fans of the old continuity are probably hopping mad that it's Snyder's pet character bonding with Cassie and not Stephanie Brown, but there's plenty of room for other friendships. (Honestly, I like Harper more than I ever liked Steph, anyway.) Another comic I'd read is a Harper/Cass/Steph team-up book, like a new Birds of Prey, or something of the sort. As I'm sure I've said before, you could include the New 52 Carrie Kelley, who disappeared into the ether (I hope Gleason uses her in his Damian solo). You could even include Tim, to revive some kind of relevance for him.

 

"You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you! More than me, anyway."

Speaking of my favorite Robin, while I'm not super familiar with his history in the new continuity, as that would mean reading Teen Titans books, and they haven't been good since the reboot, it's interesting to see what the teen genius installed in his parents' house to protect them. To say that it's a home security system is underselling it, he's transformed their abode into a panic room surrounded by a fortress. Him angrily confronting Dick about coming to his house, questioning his parents, and wrecking shit with his fight with Poppie, is probably the most animated Tim Drake has been in this entire continuity. After all the bullshit he's had to put up with recently with Bruce's "death", Dick turning up alive, and now this new list revelation, he's not putting up with his older brother keeping things from him like Batman would. Both perspectives are defensible, though, because Tim's past is so muddled and even the readers were fooled by the end of the previous issue... which I guess turns out to be a fake-out? Pretty annoying. But not as annoying as if this fractures the Bat family more. We've seen that.

 

AHHH, Tim's been posessed!

What is with the art in this issue? Sometimes it's pretty good, other times it's horrendous. Some of the really close up shots of characters' faces are rendered pretty impressiely, but other times the art is lazy and blurred-looking, and the shading looks off. The strange thing is that a lot of it seems like it's ALMOST good art, like if the pencillers and inker had just taken a couple of more hours, it would have been excellent, but it just didn't quite make it.

Anyway, not a spectacular issue, but far from awful. The strongest bit was the flashback, though, and I think this series is starting to suffer from not actually having Batman in it much, as sometimes the last weekly did.

Next: A Proven Dick

 

This should be done to this issue's artists.

 

- Penguin Truth
(2015)

Story: James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder
Script: Steve Orlando
Pencils: Scot Eaton, Ronan Cliquet, Steve Pugh
Inks: Wayne Faucher, Ronan Cliquet, Steve Pugh
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Lettering By: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Chris Conroy
Asst. Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Group Editor: Mark Doyle
Batman Created By Bob K--wait...

Still too little credit for Finger.