Batman & Robin Eternal vol. 1

The sprawling “Batman Eternal” weekly series gets a follow-up of sorts focusing on all of the sidekicks the Caped Crusader has had over the years.  It may be telling a less epic story in half the space (this ran for 26 issues rather than 52), but that decision turns out to be the right one as things get off to a strong start here.  Years ago, in a case involving the Scarecrow, Batman and Robin came across a human trafficker known only as Mother.  She dealt in supplying the super-rich with people who had been brainwashed and modified to meet their every need.  Mother was never brought to justice for reasons unknown, which catches us up to the present day as Dick Grayson comes face-to-face with her handiwork while on a mission for Spyral in Gotham.  This leads the former Robin to team up with other former Robins Jason Todd and Tim Drake, Batgirl, Bluebird, Spoiler, and even the “We Are Robin” movement to find out just what Mother’s game is here.  Also, to answer the question of whether or not Batman actually killed for this person in order to secure her services to make Dick into a stronger and better Robin.

I wouldn’t recommend this story to first-time “Batman” readers, but that’s the kind of person you’d have to be in order to take that question seriously at all.  However, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV are responsible for the story behind this series and it’s safe to say that they’re aware of that.  So it’s all a matter of accepting it and letting yourself be taken along for a ride by a couple of pros and the talented group of writers (in addition to Tynion, Tim Seeley, Genevieve Valentine, and Steve Orlando are some of the writers working on the individual issues) who are on hand to realize the story.  If you can do this, then you’ll be rewarded with a fast-paced action story that has lots of twists and a strong focus on its cast of supporting Bat-characters.  The writers do a great job of nailing the dynamics between these characters and in re-introducing pre-”New 52 Batgirl” Cassandra Cain — though the jury’s still out on their work with Azrael.  Some parts of the story will flow better the more well-versed you are with the other Bat-titles (on that note, “Superheavy” is the most relevant here as it explains Bruce Wayne’s current status quo), yet there’s enough context provided for you to suss things out if you pay attention.  Even if we know that Batman didn’t kill anyone for Mother or have her make a better Robin, it looks like the explanation as to what really happened is going to be a fun one.

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