Written by: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Art by: Roge Antonio, Geraldo Borges, Allen Passalaqua and Marilyn Patrizio
Cover Prince: $2.99
Release Date: December 9, 2015
I was not a fan of last week's Batman and Robin Eternal because of one thing...characterization. Lanzing and Kelly just didn't seem to have a full grasp of the characters they were writing and the situations they put them in felt off. Plus, everything just felt like it was thrown together to get to one thing...Azrael. I'll admit it, he looked pretty badass, but a cool cliffhanger page does not a great issue make. So, with all the pieces set into place, do Lanzing and Kelly settle in and give us a good story this week? Let's find out...
We start this week right where we left off last, with Azrael looking like a badass. It's easy to do when you have a large, flaming sword, but he throws in an ominous speech that ends with a 90's action movie one liner. Okay, I'm not minding this at all! Then the issue actually begins.
It's no shock that shits about to go down and the fight splits into two separate brawls...Bane vs Azrael and Jason and Tim vs the Priests of St. Dumas. Immediately, I was pumped for the Azrael/Bane stuff because I imagined it as a twisted kind of rematch of Knightfall. Hey, this is the DC You where story trumps continuity, right? However, the whole thing ended quickly with Azrael laying hands on Bane and making him see the light...or god...or something that makes him a sniveling fool.
While I wish there was more to the fight, that's not my major problem with this scene. No, I was really mad when Azrael used his sword to cut Bane's venom hoses and venom came out of them. Why would that make me mad? Because last issue we were told that Bane was off the venom. Which is it? Unfortunately, that's not the only thing that goes against what we were told last week.
While this is going on, Jason and Tim are fighting the "Friar Tucks" as Jason called them. Actually, Tim is fighting them as Jason hacks the St. Dumas Mainframe. I know that sentence will seem wrong to any fan of either character, but it was not a typo. It seems that Lanzing and Kelly think that Jason can only shoot people since the two switch up their normal roles because Jason is low on bullets. Oh well, Tim has a really crooked stick that gets the job done.
The nonsense piles up more as Jason hacks into Mother's financial records and decides to run a search for the exact signal wavelength that happened in Gotham. I think Lanzing and Kelly got their hacking info from the movies Hackers, Wargames and Weird Science. I guess it doesn't matter because Jason finds it! Oh goodie.
He also finds a few other things...a mysterious "Project: Ichthys", the defenses Tim ran into at Beacon Tower earlier and "Project: Azrael". While I question why these projects are being kept in easily spelled out folders, they use the information to connect Jean Paul Valley to the list of Mother's "children".
We then go back in time to Prague and see a scene where Bruce in not very happy with Robin. While Dick was dealing with Mother and Orphan, it seems that Dick was out trying to stop the Scarecrow. Bruce plays angry sergeant and demands that Dick turn in his mask for not doing things by the book and it ends with Robin storming out of the cave off to who knows where. This scene felt really forced and strange knowing what Bruce had been up to lately.
Bruce then heads out as Batman and goes back to Mother. She told Orphan he'd be back, but even she couldn't have thought it would be this soon. After telling her a schoolyard story, he looks like he is down with her plan. I still don't buy it, mainly because it is just thrown into our faces over and over again.
Back in the present, Tim and Jason square off against Azrael and while Jason gets kicked to the curb pretty quickly, Tim fights the good fight. He tells Azrael his real name and unmasks him, hoping to get him on their side. It doesn't work and Azrael lays his hands on Tim (isn't that a Bon Jovi song?) and the reader finds out what it was like to take the brown acid at Woodstock or being Grant Morrison. Far out, man. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly did enough to confuse all on their own.
Jason saves the day by grabbing Tim, jumping out a window and spraying each of them with Shark Repellant. Yep, the shark repellant makes another appearance and I hated the mention of it last week, but actually seeing it in action,,,made me want to strangle someone!
The issue ends with a Harper and Dick doing...well, it was a bit confusing. It's a bunch of quick scenes that show them gathering information and then they are scuba diving in British Columbia. The name drop of who Orphan is is pretty cool and then the issue ends with the appearance of a woman we've seen earlier, but now we know her name...or at least her job description that seems to double as a name in the Mother network.
Yet another issue that I didn't like. This time it wasn't just the characterization, but also the dialogue, the story inconsistencies and the ridiculous shit thrown in all over the place. I'm sick of sitting through an issue just to get to an interesting cliffhanger. Sick and tired.
I did like the art for the most part. Both Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges do a good job and while you can tell when they switch up, it's not a jarring transition at all. The standout page is Tim's freakout, but I also appreciate the straight forwardness of the rest of the book as well.
Bits and Pieces:
While this issue moves the overall story along, it does so with poor dialogue, awful characterizations and ridiculous situations. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly were given some cool toys to play with, but did nothing with them. This month's cliffhanger didn't have to zing that last week's did so the suffering getting to it felt all the more painful. I've heard rumblings of people dropping this book and I only expect them to get louder after this issue.