Batman and Robin Eternal #7. James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder- Story, Genevieve Valentine- Script, Alvaro Martinez- Pencils, Raul Fernandez- Inks, Sandra Molina- Colors.
The first thing that jumps out about this issue is how tightly it’s been conceived and plotted. The seeds that were planted in the first couple issue are blooming. While this series is international in scope it isn’t as sprawling as last year’s Batman Eternal. That list from the first issue is proving prophetic- it’s looking dangerous for those sidekicks and protégés.
The Past, Batman and Robin in Prague-
This issue opens with Batman and Robin apprehending one of the Scarecrow’s henchmen. It neatly segues to the present with Dick, Harper and Cass in the Prague Batcave. There’s also a cryptic scene that can be read two ways as Bruce discusses Mother with another American in Prague. It’s either Bruce on the trail of Mother or Bruce trying to find out more about her undercover. It’s ambiguous and raises more questions than it answers, but it serves the story well as it expands its scope.
The Present, Dick, Harper and Cass-
Dick has determined that the next victim on the list is the Prima Ballerina of the Prague Ballet. He’s sent Harper and Cass to attend a perfomance. We get some scenes of the Prima backstage with her teacher that certainly point to Dick being on the right track. There’s some nice scenes with Dick, Cass and Harper in the Prague Batcave showing Dick’s insight into Harper’s character. He’s reading her very well. At the ballet, Harper is a bit bored at first, but Cass is getting every nuance in a nice double page spread by Martinez and Fernandez. Dick shows up just as it appears that the Prima is about to get into trouble.
The Present, Jason and Tim in Gamorra-
Jason is desperately trying to get Tim to talk about punching Dick last issue. He seems to think it will create a bond between the two and bring Tim into the outsider status Jason occupies as the Robin nobody trusts. Tim keeps things close to the vest though and doesn’t allow Jason to draw him in. As they are talking at the bar, Jason recognizes a black market deal going down and the two go after the perpetrator.
As Dick is tracking what he believes to be Orphan’s signal at the Prague Ballet, he realizes something’s wrong. Simultaneously,, Harper and Cass discover the same thing. The Prima isn’t the target, she the perpetrator and Cass, Harper and Dick are the targets. The creative team has done a nice job again with misdirection and subterfuge. It isn’t obvious until the end what’s really going on. Well, done. This series continues to hum along. The question that seems to be posited by this story is this- Did Bruce get Mother to orphan Dick for him to use as a protégé. Yeah, it’s that twisted. There’s no way this could be true, could it?
Finally, Alvaro Martinez has done a nice job with the layouts in this issue. I think he’s stepped up his game and the issue has some really memorable visual moments- the double page ballet spread comes to mind first. .
Second would be the photo realistic ballet backdrops that appear a few times in the issue that have been executed with a different technique. He also does a nice job of showing the Prima for what she really is as she is revealed in a mostly silent sequence. 4 ½.