Batman and Robin Eternal #13. James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder- Story, James Tynion IV- Script, Marcio Takara- Artist, Dean White- Colors.
One of the nice things about a weekly series is that the creative team has the freedom to veer off into different directions with different characters while not losing too much focus on the main story. Batman and Robin Eternal #13 is like that. This issue could well be called “The Secret History of Cassandra Cain,” and yet it fits so seamlessly into the overall story that it doesn’t seem like a fill in or deadline emergency. It is a wonderful character piece that reveals much about Cassandra while also filling in some of the puzzle pieces that have been missing since she first appeared in this series. This series continues to impress. The creative team is following a tightly planned and plotted epic while providing solid character moments throughout all while maintaining the focus on the main story. Batman and Robin Eternal indeed. And family. It’s like a big hug from Batman.
The Present- Cassandra in the Nursery-
Cassandra was last seen in a niche in the cave where Mother’s Nursery is located. Now the mystery was the blood she apparently left behind, at least that’s how it appeared to Dick and Harper. This issue shows us how Cassandra got there.
She’s stowed away on an A.R.G.U.S. plane and reprogrammed the flight plan to take her over the Nursery. She HALO jumps out and lands nearby. She quickly makes her way past the automated defenses to enter the Nursery where we begin to see flashbacks of her time there and the memories that still haunt her. Her reverie is interrupted by her father- David Cain/ Orphan. Orphan voices his displeasure with her before dropping her into the pit that holds Mother’s dead children- the ones that have been returning. The ones whose blood she had tread through on her way inside. The ones she has been unable to save. Using a grappling gun she escapes from the pit for another show down with Orphan.
The Past- Vignette’s of Cassandra’s time in the Nursery as a child-
Cassandra’s memories come flooding back to her as she makes her way. It’s a really interesting artistic technique that’s used here. The panels are drawn like old worn photographs with scratches and fading.
Cassandra remembers the arrival of a group of new children. Mother greets them with a loving word and promise of the end to pain. She paints herself as rescuer as opposed to the manipulator and tormentor she is. The kids don’t know any better, but Cassandra does as she watches. Orphan catches her and chastises her and threatens to punish her by putting her in “the black box” for a month. Cassandra sneaks out again and watches as some of the children hug each other. The Sculptor is there watching Cassandra and answers Cassandra’s quizzical look- “what is a hug?” Sculptor explains it to Cassandra- it’s how one shows affection, how one show’s that he or she cares for another. Cassandra embraces Sculptor. It’s only for a moment as Sculptor pushes Cassandra away and warns her never to do it again.
The Recent Past- Cassandra with Batman in Gotham before the release of the Joker Virus-
Another memory comes to Cassandra as she fights with her father in the Nursery. When she realized what was happening at the Nursery and that Mother planned to kill her children by calling them home she knew she had to get help. She made her way to Gotham and found Batman.
Batman’s speech gives us some clues as to what happened in Prague with Mother and the Scarecrow. He believed Mother was dead and that he had been successful in shutting her down. But Cassandra has brought information. Batman gives her instructions to give this in the form of a flashdrive, yes that flashdrive, to Dick Grayson. He is confident Dick can help because he isn’t sure if he’ll make it out of the Endgame with the Joker.
In a really nice moment he reassures Cassandra she is not the monster Mother and Orphan tried to make, but the hero that she’s chosen to be. He ends it with that big Batman hug. Family.
Orphan and Cassandra continue their fight. They seem to be at a stalemate as Dick and Harper show up with some technology to put Orphan down. Cassandra gets a hug from Harper this time. The theme of family is reinforced again in this sequence. Cassandra has become a member of the Bat-Family.
It’s not often one gets the opportunity to choose one’s family, but in the case Cassandra does and is welcomed in. The joy and relief end quickly as Mother shows up in a holographic projection. She’s very pleased. She managed to get Dick, Harper, Cassandra and Orphan all into the Nursery.
Time to set off the nuclear weapon lying beneath their feet! 4 1/2