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Written by: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly Art by: Christian Duce, Gabe Eltaeb and Tom Napolitano Cover Price: $2.99 Release Date: January 13, 2016
After the last couple of issues, I am back on the Batman and Robin Eternal trolley and was really looking forward to this issue for a couple of reasons. The main reason was to see what happens next, of course, but I was also interested in seeing if Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly could step it up and give fans a better run at it than the last bit they gave us. If you don’t recall, all I have to say are two words...shark repellant! I seemed to be alone in my belief that the two threw that out there as a weak attempt to prove that they “got” Batman and while most seemed to get a chuckle at it, I was not amused. They then went on to give us one of the worst issues of the entire series as if they wanted to prove my hatred was wise in the first place. I'd thank them for the assist , but what I actually wanted was for them to prove me wrong by giving the suffering fans of this series a kick ass issue. That didn't happen and we left Azrael, Tim Drake and Jason Todd behind to focus on Dick and Harper...until now. Lanzing and Kelly are back and they've brought the three with them, plus even more. Did they continue James Tynion’s upward momentum and redeem themselves in the process? Let's find out…
The issue begins with some serious philosophical narration. You know, “life is a lie”, “there is no spoon”, “I am the walrus” kind of stuff. All this goes on as we see Azrael meditating and Tim dragging something through the desert. The opening ends with the reader well aware that Azrael plans to take care of his recent mistakes and what Tim is dragging is Jason Todd.
I liked the opening even though it threw me off just a bit in terms of time. I'd like to know how long we've gone since we last saw these characters. Even if I assume this is in real time with the rest of the series, I still have little idea how long Tim and Jason were in the desert or how long Azrael has been stewing over his failure.
I guess we’re supposed to live in the now and that has Tim Drake meeting Azrael outside of Gnosis, the Secret City of St. Dumas (I’m not sure whether to say that in a scary voice or sing it) with a proposition...he will give them Jason if they allow him to enter the city and the order itself. Say it ain’t so, Tim!
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t buy any of this and that’s my biggest complaint with this issue...why would anyone? I still can’t explain it, but it gets worse as Azrael gives Tim the secret tour that ends with a meeting with St. Dumas himself. Boy, that didn’t take much, did it?
We then get the obligatory flashback with Scarecrow telling Mother what Batman wanted him to. I don’t know what Batman’s game is, but what Crane tells Mother doesn’t seem that crazy or anything like a setup. It does lead to the best part of the issue, however, which alludes to the first issue’s awesome cliffhanger. The scene was pretty cool, but the portrayal of Scarecrow seemed a little over the top for me. Why is he jumping around like a damn fool?
We then head back to Gnosis (you know it’s the Secret City of St. Dumas, right?) and while it looks like Tim and Jason have everything under control (at the expense of poor Azrael), St. Dumas has a trick or two up his sleeve. What he does is so messed up and sets up a pretty cool cliffhanger, even if it is mostly just for shock value.
Okay, I’m done complaining because after all the things I found wrong with this issue, I still had fun reading it. It continues the character development we’ve been getting lately, but this time it’s Azrael and it’s awesome. I really hope that he gets out of this series alive so we can get more.
I also liked the art of Christian Duce which is detailed and consistent throughout the issue. There is nothing that will take your breath away (though the last page seems like it was meant to), but thanks to Gabe Eltaeb’s great color work, it impressed me nonetheless.
Bits and Pieces:
While I had some problems with this issue, I am still on the Eternal Express. Lanzing and Kelly redeem themselves a bit in my eyes by giving us an issue that was fun and chock full of Azrael goodness. If this continues, I’ll forgive them for the shark repellent...maybe.