Tuesday, 22 December 2015
Batman & Robin Eternal #1 Review (James Tynion IV, Tony Daniel)
You know this story: kid’s parents are gunned down in front of him – but in Cairo, Egypt?! So begins the second “season” of Batman Eternal, renamed Batman & Robin Eternal.
Currently Bruce Wayne is “dead” (again) but, like the cover shows, this series is split between the past, when Bruce was alive and still Batman with Dick Grayson as Robin, and the present, where Bruce is gone, Jim Gordon is Mecha-Batman, and Dick is now Grayson, Sexy Agent of Spyral (sorry ladies, he doesn’t take his shirt off in this comic). So, not the most accessible of #1s given how readers are expected to know the current state of the DCU however it doesn’t look like you need to have read Batman Eternal before picking this one up.
Like Batman Eternal, Scott Snyder is the “showrunner” of the series but not the writer – his protégé James Tynion IV is writing, which is why the script isn’t as good as the main Batman comics usually are. The storyline kicks off with Dick pursuing someone and they’re both riding motorbikes up a Gotham skyscraper – as you do. It’s a contrived opening just to get the Robins together: Dick, Jason and Tim. When asked why he was chasing this nameless chap, Dick answers “super-secret spy stuff”; in other words, there’s no reason!
Later on, Dick leaps through a tower’s window, falling however many stories, lands on his feet and doesn’t break both of his legs! Riiiiiight. We also see the awfulness that is Robo-Batman as Gordon proves to be easily immobilized by Bluebird (Harper Row) and then we’re into the mysterious plot of this series: “Mother” is brainwashing people into doing terrible things and “The Orphan” is standing around looking menacing.
I’m guessing The Orphan is the kid we see in the flashback opening because, if Batman’s taught us anything, it’s that when a kid sees his parents gunned down, he grows up to become an emo masked vigilante ninja (except Orphan’s dressed in white, not Batman’s grey/black ensemble)!
The issue’s not a total wash though as the too-often-overlooked former Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, makes a welcome appearance and might potentially feature as a player in this series. I don’t think she’s appeared in the New 52 or what the timeline is – whether No Man’s Land still happened or not – but Bruce seemed to have known her from somewhere. Then again the New 52 timeline screwed up Batman’s history with the Robins anyway by putting a figure of 6 years from Bruce becoming Batman to the present! Best to just ignore the New 52 entirely…
Tony Daniel’s lines are clean and the art looks slick and attractive, if a little rushed in places (the Gotham U scene), though I wouldn’t expect him to stick around for more than two or three issues given the weekly publication schedule.
I like the idea of a series about the Robins and supporting Bat characters with little input from Bruce. This series has Dick Grayson front and centre with Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Harper Row, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown – that’s a pretty great line-up! But while the last page has a tantalising hook, after the mess Batman Eternal turned out to be, I’m a little gunshy to commit to buying this weekly series - I’ll probably trade-wait this puppy.
Batman and Robin Eternal #1 is an ok first issue in a series aimed at fans of the Robins but especially for fans who’ve also been keeping up with DC this past year. If you haven’t, you might find this one a tad confusing and leave you cold.
Batman & Robin Eternal #1