Astrophysics major with an obsession for comics, tv, movies and books, so please tell me how wrong I am
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Batman & Robin Eternal kicks off its first issue this week and hits the ground running, thanks to an all-star creative team.
Let’s get this out of the way: rest assured, Batman and Robin Eternal is most definitely worth your time. This first issue barely scratches the surface of mysteries to come, new characters, and the dynamic within the infamous Bat Family. The creative team of Snyder/Tynion/Daniel bring this new story to life, all the while setting up the plot for other writers and artists to contribute to. So get ready for this 26-issue weekly series that will dive into international conspiracies, mind-controlled allies, and the first partnership between Batman and Robin.
The collaborative model of writing a book with so many contributors didn’t work so well in Batman Eternal; the first brainchild of Snyder/Tynion, but Batman and Robin Eternal seems to be setting up a much better story and dynamic within the Bat Family. It starts with a very mysterious beginning, as we see a young Egyptian boy witness his parents being murdered in front of him. This provokes many feelings, one of which is that a new Batman is being born. The art of Tony Daniel is terrific in this one page exposition, with the reflection of the boy’s deceased parents cast upon his eyes really coming across as haunting. Daniel is at his career prime, and it shows throughout the book.
We then change to the main focus of the story, which is Dick Grayson’s return to Gotham under the direction of Spy agency Spyral. Snyder and Tynion nail his character, showcasing the wit and charm of the former Robin throughout the issue. This is incredibly enhanced by the past-present juxtaposition that contrasts the first dynamic duo with the state of the current Bat Family. Daniel’s artwork involving the past Batman and Robin fighting Scarecrow’s thugs invokes true nostalgia of the first days of Batman and Robin being partners.
In the end this does feel like a Dick Grayson story, as the real threat that starts to emerge halfway through the story is “Mother”, one of the first villains that Dick Grayson and Batman had taken down five years ago. We don’t get much on this villain, other than that she seems to be able to fully control anyone’s actions and will.
What we do get is the reappearance of Cassandra Cain, former pre-52 Batgirl and daughter of master assassin Lady Shiva. It is a true delight to see her back, outfitted in a black and gold suit that evokes her past iterations. These panels showing the fight between Cassandra and Dick are fantastic, with Tony Daniel showcasing her abilities by highlighting her hit points on Grayson with red circles, in order to convey just how precise she is. I haven’t actually seen this method used in a comic before, and I love that Daniels is changing things up to keep scenes fresh.
Meanwhile, we do get a quick look at the current Batman, as Commissioner Gordon has now donned his Robotic Bat-suit full time. A scene played out between him and Harper Row (now Bluebird) is actually great, as we see how capable Harper actually is by disabling the Robo Bat-suit in a few moments. Her story is separate from the main action, but we do get a hint of her playing a bigger role with the appearance of a bloody assassin who is tasked to kill her.
Finally, we get to the big WTF moment in this issue, which is the revelation that the gunman who murdered the Egyptian boy’s parents is actually Batman! This full page panel is amazing and incredibly stylish, as not many artists have paired Batman with a gun while making it look good. Obviously Batman is under the control of Mother, but the ending scene still packs the punch either way.
The good of this issue is the dynamic within the Bat Family, complemented with Tony Daniel’s fantastic artwork. The only quarrels I have with the pilot book is not a single mention of Damian Wayne, but this is forgivable as he has his own current story arc in Robin: Son of Batman. But if these interesting themes are carried over week by week, we are guaranteed a great ride.
AJ DeMare is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @Perma_Trashed
Batman and Robin Eternal #1 is a great first issue; showcasing an ongoing collaborative effort between the best artists/writers in the industry