Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Javi Pina, Goran Sudzuka, Chris Sotomayor and Marilyn Patrizio
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: March 24, 2016
The penultimate issue of Batman and Robin Eternal has arrived and I have very mixed emotions right now. I know that I have been one of the harshest critics of this series, but that wasn't because of any sort of "business plan" on my part...I really wanted to like this series and was all in after the first issue which I loved. Since then, however, the inconsistencies in story and art have really gotten to me to the point that I have been looking forward to it ending and not for any good reasons. That all being said, if the writers and artists can get together and end it all in a satisfying way, I can still walk away from it in a positive way. Hey, I did it with Batman Eternal...kind of. So, does this issue start me down that road? Let's find out...
This week opens with Midnighter telling everyone who is "not dead" that Scarecrow needs a little more time to produce his trauma toxin. We see that things aren't going fantastic for any of Team Robin, but that's really not anything new. The big issues are the Orphans and the fact that more kids are being affected by the signal. The best part for me was seeing Cullen at the Junction Room controls running shit and not busy making peanut butter sandwiches. It's a quick peek and transitions nicely to Dick Grayson and Azrael who are still fighting...for some reason.
This whole Dick versus Azrael fight hasn't felt right since the beginning. I understand what is going on, but it just feels like something is off and both guys (mainly Azrael) should have figured that out by now. Sure, Azrael wants Mother's head on a platter and Dick wants her brought to justice, but the whole battle started before that was even established and has just continued on. It all feels like filler until their part o the story needs to advance.
That being said, I really like Azrael here and feel for the guy who has had no life because of Mother. We finally get down to the nitty gritty when Dick tells Azrael that if he kills Mother, she wins. I don't know if I agree with that, but it does make Azrael stop and think and we can finally move on.
We then check in with Mother and she's still trying to convince Harper to kill Cassandra to close the circle, but Harper isn't going for it. Again, things just feel off here as Mother tells Harper that Cassandra killing her mother is what kept her from greatness, when that was what was supposed to lead her to it. Plus, Mother just keeps giving Harper her speech even though it's very clear that Harper isn't going for it. Again, it felt like everyone is just stalling so that the rest of the story can catch up to them. And catch up, it does.
Midnighter informs everyone that the Toxin is ready and while that is something to celebrate, the Orphans in all the cities are a big hindrance when it comes to getting the job done. This is a major part of this issue and I love it and hate it at the same time. I love that Cullen is the one who comes up with the solution, but I hate the rule breaking that goes on and also the convenience of it. I won't spoil it all, but why did it take all this time to destroy the signal towers when what they did really could have been done two issues ago? I mean, some of the guys and gals were actually on top of the towers before, right? I must be getting worn down by it all because it didn't upset me like it has in past issues and it did lead to one of the best moments in this entire series courtesy of Midnighter.
The rest, however, was just anticlimactic. The Trauma Toxin is put into play and while it should be a big moment, all I could think was "What are these kids going to do? They killed their parents!" Plus, it worked a bit too quick and painlessly. Rule Breaking!!!
Of course, Mother has a backup plan which again, makes everything feel very anticlimactic and gives her time to make bold statements and wax poetic about how her ways are better than Batman's. The issue ends with Dick finally getting to Mother (he was doing shit while she was talking to herself!) and...he blows his big line. It was the perfect opportunity for his kickass "Hello, Mother" line and he blew it. He Blew It!!!! "Sorry, Mother" just doesn't cut it.
I usually go with a gut feeling when deciding if an issue is good or not and while that's not very scientific, it has worked okay so far. With everything I found wrong with this issue, I still liked it a ton more than anything we've gotten in quite some time. Sure, it's anticlimactic and continued to break the rules, but I liked the dialogue for the most part and things happened that we have been waiting ages for. I don't know how this sets up next week's finale to be anything but anticlimactic as well, but I don't review things based on what may or may not happen later and because of that, I give this one good marks. Boy, it feels weird to write that.
Another thing I really enjoyed this week was Javi Pina, Goran Sudzuka's art. Everything looked great (even if Goliath looked like Falkor, Branden!) and besides Tony Daniel's couple of issues, this might be my favorite.
Bits and Pieces:
Steve Orlando gives fans a penultimate issue that may continue the problems that have plagued this series from the beginning (and even adds some new ones), but still left me more satisfied than I have been in quite some time with this book. The art was great and the story gave readers some things they've been waiting for, but it did leave me wondering what we will get for a big finish next issue. Oh well, I'm just glad I enjoyed what we got here and will wait next week for all that.