Batman and Robin Eternal #22. James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder- Story, Genevieve Valentine- Script, Fernando Blanco- Art, John Rauch- Colors.
As much as this series has been about the importance of the concept of Robin to Batman, it’s also shown the fears and feelings of inadequacy of those who have been Robin. This idea is the main character element explored in this issue. It may seem overused, but in this instance, we finally get to see Batman’s intentions with his training of the Robins.
Orphan and Poppy have escaped with Harper and Cassandra, and at the Arctic Circle, Mother is about to put the final step of her plan into action. Harper is still devastated at having learned the truth about her mother’s death. She won’t talk to Cassandra. Back at Spyral Headquarters the Robins- Dick, Jason and Tim are beating themselves up over having lost Cass and Harper. The situation seems pretty hopeless to them. Orphan’s plane is not visible on radar, they don’t have time to hack into the satellites to create interference. Dick’s ready to call the Justice League.
Apparently, Damian knows more about the Robins than anyone thought. He slaps Grayson and lays it all out for the Robins. Bruce believed in all of them, but he also allowed them to make their own choices, to become their own persons and not carbon copies or “good soldiers.” Damian’s story re-invigorates Dick and Co. and they finally get about formulating a plan instead of wallowing in self-pity.
This is a really nice sequence as we get to see Batman in a different way. Much like last issue, this is a whole Batman, not a man with a damaged psyche. Even more, his desire to let Dick, Tim and Jason make there own choices is an important part in his role as a father figure to these young men. Clearly, he’s learned from Alfred and has truly tried to help these individuals the best people they can be and not solely a weapon in a personal war on crime.
Back in Antarctica, Mother greets the returning Orphan with open, but punishing arms. She disposes of David Cain in front of Cass and Harper only to reveal a whole squad of “Orphans.” It isn’t long before she is able to turn the Somnus on and send her signal to the world.
We learn quite a bit about Batman and Damian in this issue and one hopes the other Robins can leave their personal doubts about Batman’s confidence in them behind. If so, this changes the board for all the current and former Robins. For Damian, it shows his understanding of his father’s training methods as well as clearing his conscience of having to live up to the previous Robins’ legacies. He’s going to be allowed to be his own man. Fernando Blanco does a nice job on conveying some real emotion and depth with facial expressions this issue. His approach is reminiscent of Chris Samnee’s.
Clean lines and lots of spaces are the key elements in his work. A special mention of John Rauch’s colors should be made as well. He’s working a specific palette for each of the locations in this story and they help convey the uniqueness of the locales and the emotional situations depicted in them.
The story didn’t move forward much this issue, but what we learned about the Robins and Batman was worth it. This issue could be considered slow because of this, but overall the pacing has been balanced and last issue was an action-packed thriller.
A great issue for characterization. Seeing Batman in this light makes me itch to have Bruce return to the cowl and make an appearance by the end of this series. However, it may be something that works best as something that the Robins have to finish without Bruce’s involvement.