Batman and Robin Eternal #12. James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder- Story, Ed Brisson- Script, Javier Pina & Goran Sudzuka- Artists, John Rauch- Colors.
There are moments and beats in a story that are designed to elicit a certain response. Sometimes there can be very visceral reaction. Sometimes a conundrum raised by a plot element will make the reader think or require him or her to reflect on his or her own life. This issue of Batman and Robin Eternal asks the reader to be Dick Grayson for a bit and feel empathy for him. As Dick Grayson is very often the everyman or gateway character for readers, it is very easy to feel what he feels as secrets are revealed in this issue. Additionally, the tight plotting of the story is once again evident as the teases begin to play out. This is a smaller much more emotional issue that while doesn’t move the story forward much, it provides the insight to a certain situation we saw at the end of issue #1. Or at least it seems to. I guess it’s appropriate that the scene in question took place in Cairo, because the reader and Dick Grayson want to jump in that river in Egypt- denial.
The Present- Dick, Harper and The Sculptor on Mudge Island, B.C.-
Dick demands that the Sculptor take him into her head and show him what happened between Batman and Mother in Prague in the past. The double page spread that takes up pages 2 and 3 are a nice entrance into the head of the Sculptor. She doesn’t take Dick to his destination immediately, first she tells her own story…
The Past- the Sculptor’s Story-
Mother had identified the little girl who would become her Sculptor when she was very young. Mother was aware of her psychic abilities and these made her a perfect addition to her family. With David Cain as her Adam, the Sculptor would be her Eve. As it went with Mother’s methods at the time, a young David Cain slaughtered the little girl’s family in front of her. Mother took her and “adopted” her, and indoctrinated her into “the family.” The little girl felt as if she had no alternative but to do as Mother wished. She had no recourse, she was trapped. So she did. Using her psychic abilities she pushed the children Mother chose towards the ends that Mother had in mind. The Sculptor is at heart still a good person who knows she’s done wrong and wants to try to make it right. She wants Dick to use the knowledge she’s given him to stop Mother. She warns Dick that Mother will call upon her sleeper agents throughout the world who are doctors, lawyers, politicians etc… to attack. But she fears for the children who are in the Nursery who have yet to be released into the world.
The Past- Batman and Mother–
The Sculptor finally allows Dick to see the interaction between Batman and Mother. And this is where that empathy with Dick comes into play. Sculptor warns Dick and the reader that we won’t like what we see. It’s exactly what Dick fears, and we fear. Batman essentially agrees to allowing Mother to “provide” him a suitable heir to the Bat that’s been teased the past few issues. It goes further, though, Batman insists at being present for the birth, meaning he wants to be the trigger man. It goes against everything that Batman stands for- as Dick says, “it’s rule one!”
Fear. The Scarecrow. Jonathan Crane. His role isn’t done. There’s something about these visions and this situation with Batman seemingly fulfilling Dick’s fear of not being worthy.
Dick and Harper realize that the house on Mudge Island has been an illusion induced by the Sculptor. They direct themselves to finding the children in the Nursery and saving them. However, the reader gets there first. A long cave. Slaughtered children. Pools of blood. A trail of bloody footsteps. A girl splattered in blood cowering in a niche in the wall of the cave. Cassandra Cain.
This issue really went deep. The emotional strings it plucked take this issue to a 4 ½.