Batman and Robin Eternal #17. James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder- Story, Ed Brisson- Script, Scot Eaton- Pencils, Wayne Faucher- Inks, Allen Passalaqua- Colors.
The charade is over. And it doesn’t take long before we learn the truth of the events that occurred in that Cairo alley teased way back in Batman and Robin Eternal #1- although, our storytellers do a good job of selling it, hard. I mean, for a moment it really does look bad for Bruce. The real strength of this issue is that we get the Batman we want. All the misdirection and teases are pushed aside and we get the Batman we’ve always believed in and the Batman who really does believe in Robin.
The Present- Dick, Helena, Harper- Spyral Headquarters at St. Hadrian’s-
Dick has brought Orphan to Spyral to get help on interrogating him. The Spyral hypnos aren’t working, and neither is Dick’s traditional approach. Orphan does his best to break Dick’s morale with constant assaults on Dick’s belief in Bruce. Orphan is a stone wall, he won’t give.
Meanwhile, on the campus Harper is walking around looking and feeling out of place. However, she turns what appears to be simply accidentally bumping into a student into some sleight of hand that relieves said student of her identification, thus allowing Harper access to where Orphan is being held.
The Past- Batman, Robin, Mother- Cairo–
There’s something singularly shocking about Batman, smoking gun in hand, standing over two dead bodies with an hysterical child pleading. It’s one of those images that is so incongruous with the Caped Crusader’s standard operating procedure that the reader knows it can’t be true despite all appearances. Can it?
Mother believed she had set Bruce up. She felt as if she had persuaded him to kill to get a better Robin. She believed he had no faith in Dick’s abilities to one day take over the legacy of the Bat. She was wrong. Batman was running his own game. Despite appearances, Batman did not kill those people in the alley. And the boy who was supposed to be groomed for the next Robin? Well, Mother prepared ahead of time as well- a plant. Now here’s where the story continues to twist even more. This alley encounter was just a good faith test for Bruce. The real candidate for Robin we learn is actually in Gotham City.
The Wrap Up-
Two cliffhangers for the price of one! In the past the encounter with Mother goes south as she scoops up the boy and threatens to slit his throat unless Batman gives up and lets Orphan kill him. And it appears Orphan has a shot as he gets the drop on Batman with an attack from behind.
In the present, Dick and Helena are called to the roof as Tim and Jason show up and are greeted as unfriendlies by Spyral. Meanwhile, Harper uses the ID she pinched to sneak in and see Orphan. The verbal sparring leads to Orphan taunting Harper with his knowledge of Cassandra’s visit to Gotham and her intended target. Cullen?