To help celebrate Robin’s 75th anniversary DC Comics is publishing yet another Batman weekly series, Batman & Robin: Eternal. This is a sequel to Scott Snyder and company’s successful run on Batman Eternal, which ended earlier this year. With Batman Eternal we saw the focus of the story become the fallout of Jim Gordon causing a major accident to occur. Now with Batman & Robin: Eternal we are going to see the focus shift Dick Grayson and the Batfamily dealing with the ramifications of mysterious adventure from the original Dynamic Duo’s past.
What is this secret adventure that the Dynamic Duo went on all about? And why is it only now just coming back to the limelight? Let’s find out with Batman & Robin: Eternal #1.
Story: James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder
Script: James Tynion IV
Artist: Tony Daniel
Inker: Sandu Florea
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Several years ago a young child is enjoying a night out in Cairo with his parents. As the family is walking down the street they run into a mysterious person wearing a cloak. Before they get a chance to react the person in the cloak kills the father and mother.
Elsewhere in Gotham City, Batman and Robin are swinging through the city on their way to their net mission.
In the present, Dick Grayson is chasing someone, both of them riding their motorcycles on the side of buildings in Gotham City. Dick gets yelled at by his Spyral partner, Poppy, for wasting time chasing a dead lead. Dick tells Poppy not to worry since he brought back-up.
Just then Red Hood begins firing at the person Dick was chasing. Red Hood is able to force the person run into a rooftop sign.
The guy is able to jump onto a rooftop where Red Robin was waiting for him. Red Robin is able to use his wrist computer to quickly shutoff all of the guys tech. Before Red Robin is able to do anything else Dick and Red Hood knock the guy out with a double punch.
Red Hood suggests that they go get drinks to celebrate, though Red Robin reminds him that he is 16. (Wait I thought Tim was at least 18 like he was in the old DCU? Man, this non-reboot New 52 has thrown me off.)
Tim then asks Dick how it feels to be back in Gotham City. Dick says that it is strange since he didn’t think he would be back so soon after his brief visit a few weeks ago (visit happened in Grayson #12). Dick mentions how now that Bruce isn’t Bruce anymore that Alfred keeps calling him to do something with the Batcave. Red Hood makes a dumb joke which Dick decides is a good chance to get back to his Spyral mission.
Red Robin says that maybe them working together is what Bruce had in mind. Red Hood isn’t sure since Bruce kept a lot of secrets locked up. Dick asks Red Robin for a grapple gun since that is the best way to travel through Gotham City and takes off.
In the Narrows, Batman asks his team how a kid has been able to evade all of their tech with normal batteries. Batman then reminds his team of his detective skills by finding his target, Bluebird, hiding behind some dumpsters.
Batman tells Bluebird he is not going to arrest her, only take her costume and equipment as he can’t have kids running around playing superhero. Bluebird tells the new Batman that he is not Batman. She then talks about how the original Batman was supposed to train her. Bluebird then uses one of her “birds” to disable Batman suit. Bluebird tells Batman to have good luck catching her and leaves the area.
Elsewhere, Dick Grayson arrives at Gotham State University’s Tower of Elightenment for its grand opening party. Dick and Poppy go over the mission which involves stopping a bomb from going off during the party. While they talk Dick says he finds it funny that Spyral sent him back to Gotham City after his last visit.
After saying that, Dick mentions that the tower he is in was actually the location of his first big case as Robin. Poppy wonders what the case was.
Dick says that it involved Scarecrow using his identity as Dr. Crane to create a “fear” outbreak in Gotham City and used his students as Scarecrow grunts to fight Batman and Robin. Dick explains that during the course of the case he and Batman went around the world chasing Scarecrow.
Before Dick can continue his story a number of kids surround him. One of the kids tells Dick that he is right in that it all started where he is standing. The kid then says that it is the reason that the tower is a perfect place to kill Dick. Dick tries to communicate to Poppy but can’t get through. All the kids tell Dick that Batman never trusted him and open fire on him.
Dick is able to evade all the bullets and jumps to the other side of the room. With the mesmerized kids right behind him Dick decides to jump out of the tower through a window.
Dick finds the van Poppy is in. As soon as he opens the van Poppy, who is working for whoever is controlling the kids in the tower, shots him in the shoulder. Dick is able to think quick and gets the bike inside the van to make his escape.
Poppy calls a person named Orphan to update them on what happened. She then tells Orphan that they must eliminate the “others” immediately. Orphan reminds Poppy who she works for and says they must first focus on eliminating the one person that could lead Dick back to them.
Elsewhere, Dick continues to ride through Gotham and as he goes under one of the bridges someone knocks him of his bike out of nowhere. Dick asks the woman who she is but she does not answer. Instead the mysterious woman analyzes all of Dick’s movements and is able to counter all of his attacks with ease.
As they continue to fight Dick wonders why the mysterious woman is holding back from using lethal strikes. All the woman says is “Mother.” Dick wonders who “Mother” is and if she is Orphan. The woman says she is not and hands Dick a USB drive with the Batsymbol on it. Dick wonders how she got a USB drive from Batman but the woman disappears before he can get an answer.
At Blubird’s place Cullen tells his returning sister how Spoiler was angry that Harper went out without her. Cullen expresses his worry that Harper will get herself killed since she didn’t receive the training she thought she would before the original Batman disappeared. Harper reassures her brother that she knows what she is doing and says that she is going to take a shower.
As soon as Harper opens the bathroom she finds Orphan waiting for her. Orphan tells Harper that she is the key to everything which is why she must die.
Inside the Batcave, a beaten Dick Grayson arrives and takes the tarp of the Bat-computer. He uses the Bat-computer to find out what is inside the USB drive he was given. After decrypting the information Dick finds a message talking about “Mother” and a list of people that include Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Harper Row and Cassandra Cain’s name on it. Dick wonders what it all means and the program recognizes Dick’s voice which activates a message from Bruce.
In the message Bruce admits he failed because he was hoping Dick would never find out what he did during their first case together. Bruce explains that their original mission turned out to be much darker than he expected but he was able to stop it before it got worse. Bruce continues to say that the reason Cassandra gave Dick the USB drive is because he has fallen and that “Mother” has returned. Bruce tells Dick not to underestimate “Mother” because she could be controlling anyone around him. Bruce ends his message by asking Dick to forgive him and to stay safe.
Flashing back to several years ago, a kid mourns the death of his parents. Someone from the shadows tells the kid that he ended things. The person in the shadows is shown to be Batman holding a gun. “Mother” tells Batman that the kid is ready to be taken which is an order Batman complies with. End of issue.
The Good: Much like its predecessor Batman & Robin: Eternal #1 does a very good job setting the table for the new weekly series from DC Comics. From the very opening page Scott Snyder, James Tynion and company made sure to establish this story being based on the unknown past of the original Dynamic Duo. This unknown past gave way for many possibilities for the direction of Batman and Robin: Eternal as a series.
The most exciting aspect brought up in Batman & Robin: Eternal #1 is the fact that we really don’t know what the modern day relationship of the original Dynamic Duo was like. While we have gotten brief looks into the original Dynamic Duo’s modern history with a few annuals and flashbacks they never went into full detail on that relationship. Now we are getting that chance to see why in the New 52 continuity Dick Grayson wasn’t Robin for as long as his previous incarnation.
Seeing how Dick Grayson’s shorter career as Robin is based on the first case he and Bruce worked on is interesting. It sets a strong statement as to how dangerous Batman’s modern adventures are. Because even with villains like Scarecrow, who aren’t physically imposing, are dangerous to involve in-training heroes. Seeing how Batman comes to the realization during the flashbacks to the globetrotting mission involving Mother and Scarecrow is exciting.
Batman and Robin: Eternal #1 also did a good job in establishing who the stars of this series will be. While it was obvious that Dick Grayson would be leading the way through all the marketing material I was surprised by the amount of attention Harper Row and Cassandra Cain got. Snyder and Tynion made it clear from their time on screen that Harper and Cassandra will be playing crucial roles in whatever Mother’s plot is. Both characters have been given unique roles in this story that ties into what Dick is going to do in the main story while maintaining their own sub-plot within everything going on.
And I liked how Snyder and Tynion did not waste any time in establishing Cassandra Cain back into the role of being one of the best fighters in the DC Universe. The way they established this was smart as they showed us just how efficiently Cassandra fights by predicting her opponents’ moves by their body language. This was a skill that Cassandra had that was deemphasized after she was able to talk. So I’m glad that this is the skill set that was emphasized in her debut without making her a mute, since we did also hear her briefly talk at the end.
I’m also interested to learn more about Cassandra’s history with Batman. Just from the video recording Bruce left Dick it seems as though her history dates back to the original Dynamic Duo’s first case together. The thing we don’t know is how much time Cassandra interacted with Bruce and how much she knows about the BatFamily and the situation involving Mother.
This mystery also sets Dick up to solve all these mysterious since Bruce didn’t go into detail during his recording. It will be a good change of pace for Dick as he has been working as more of a follower during his infiltration mission of Spyral. Now we are going to get a chance to see another side of Dick as he will be leading the investigation into the secrets Bruce was keeping and who Mother is. And just from the brief interactions Dick had with Tim and Jason I am looking forward to seeing how he works together with the rest of the BatFamily after his time away.
And while I would’ve like to have seen a bit more from Harper Row’s segment as she was able to elude the new Batman as she was working as Bluebird. Snyder and Tynion did a good job in the limited time Harper was on screen to show the reader why she will be important to the story. Hopefully Batman and Robin: Eternal will help Harper’s character get reintegrated into the current Gotham City post-Endgame.
Tony Daniel did a very good job establishing a big event feel from the beginning with Batman and Robin: Eternal #1. The art really helped show us how each character works, specifically Dick Grayson, Cassandra Cain, Jason Todd and Harper Row. These four characters got a good spotlight that showed they don’t work alike. I especially liked how he showcased Cassandra’s unique fighting style by showing us how she used Dick Grayson’s body language to counter all his attacks.
The Bad: While Snyder and Tynion did give a two week window between the events of Grayson #12 and Batman and Robin: Eternal #1 it felt more like an excuse to justify Dick Grayson being back in Gotham City. And that excuse made lessen the impact of the 24 hours Dick was given to say his goodbye’s to the BatFamily in Grayson #12. Dick having a mission in Gotham City also made Spyral look stupid as both Agent Zeron and Helena know they can’t send him there just two weeks after he communicated with the BatFamily.
The reality is that Snyder and Tynion could set Dick’s mission any in the world and it wouldn’t of changed the impact of this story, including his meeting with Cassandra Cain. The only thing that would’ve change was Jason Todd and Tim Drake’s involvement in this issue. And that is honestly something that would’ve been beneficial to the story since we know that Jason and Tim will play a part in the story based on the covers alone.
My question with this is also why not hold off on Jason and Tim’s appearance? If their appearance was held off until even the next issue they could’ve been given a better spotlight in the story right away. It would’ve also helped to show us how serious the situation Dick finds himself in that he has to bring Tim and Jason in behind Spyral’s back to accomplish his newest mission.
And speaking of Jason, the one small character gripe I have is how Jason has been written lately. Ever since the New 52 started Jason has been written more and more like a Dick Grayson-clone. Jason works much better as the black sheep of the BatFamily who is an asshole to everyone. This change doesn’t benefit Jason because it causes his character to be overshadowed by Dick, Tim and Damian who all overshadow him in the group of Robins.
As much as I liked Tony Daniel’s story I do have to ding him a bit for having some inconsistency problems towards the end of the issue. Some of the character designs and layouts looked rush that may show that Daniel was running against a deadline and was rushing to meet it.
Overall: Batman & Robin: Eternal #1 successfully set the stage for the latest Batman weekly series. Scott Snyder and James Tynion did a good job at putting the spotlight of this first issue on Dick Grayson, Harper Row and Cassandra Cain to show us that they will be the driving force of this series. The only problem I had with the issue was the decision to set this story shortly after the events of Grayson #12. There could’ve been better choices for this part of the story that wouldn’t of gotten in the way of what Snyder and Tynion wanted to tell without lessening the impact of that issue. That aside, I am all in on the story of Batman & Robin: Eternal and greatly looking forward to learning more about all that was revealed.