Batman and Robin Eternal #23. James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder- Story, Genevieve Valentine- Script, Christian Duce- Artist, Gabe Eltaeb- Colors.
When this series started 23 issues ago, the scope was very broad, with multiple storylines in different points of Dick Grayson’s life and spread across different parts of the globe. With issue #23, we finally are Gotham centric for what looks like will be the finale. In true Bat-Family fashion, the Robins have called in the rest of the extended family- Batgirl, Spoiler, Batwoman, Black Canary, Duke Thomas & the Robins, and Catwoman. Helena Bertinelli makes her first New 52 appearance as a part of the Bat-Family as well. Interestingly, Midnighter is part of the team as well. While not a true member of the Bat-Family, he is part of the world of Spyral and a Batman inspired character. And of course, it falls to Dick Grayson to take the biggest risk and go after Mother one on one. Or is it one on one hundred?
Mother’s signal has started affecting the children of the world. They are rioting in countries all over the world, following Mother’s directions to kill their parents. Cullen Row and Spoiler are snatched by Red Robin to join the fight. Midnighter has some crazy magic doorways that allow everyone access not only to his apartment, but also to lots of other places around the globe. As the main group convenes at Midnighter’s place to plan, the ancillary characters take their spots in the field to try and stop the rioting children.
Spoiler is chosen to guard the Scarecrow, as Dick fears Crane may be one of Mother’s targets. Cullen is left with Midnighter as he is designated to run ops. Jason has to get Scarecrow to create a lot of fear toxin as the antidote to Mother’s signal. It’s up to Dick to take the biggest risk as his magic door will take him to Mother’s doorstep in the Arctic. Midnighter is only too happy to point out that this will leave Grayson alone and without a net. This is it then, the payoff, finally. Dick vs. Mother on Mother’s terms as the world comes apart at the seams. Next issue.
This issue functions mostly as a set up for what’s about to come next, however the creative team does work in some nice character moments. We get a really nice take on Steph as she proves immune to Scarecrow’s mind games. The inclusion of so many Bat-related characters is certainly fun and reinforces the family element that the aptly named Bat-Family is about. The commitment of so many to Bruce and his mission really reinforces the nature of the group he’s built over the years. Bruce isn’t some madman who’s damaged and marginalized, he’s could never have a so dedicated family if he hadn’t instilled not only loyalty, confidence and the sense that he cared.
There’s also some nice character work with Midnighter and his relationship with Grayson. Over in Grayson, these two have developed a history. They certainly don’t get along and Dick has put Midnighter in his place. More than once. Still, you can tell that there’s a respect between the two, even if they don’t approach the world the same way.
There’s a bit of disappointment as we learn that the final confrontation is not to be until next issue. But that’s about it. The anticipation and pacing fits in the overall story. It moves quickly and then slows down at the end of the issue as Midnighter voices over Dick’s leap to the Arctic.
If you’re looking to see what all the hubbub about Batman and Robin Eternal is about, this is not a bad issue to pick up. It’s fairly straight forward and it definitely gets one ready for the showdown next issue, or at the very least, the one after that. It still seems like there’s one more twist or turn left in the final 3 issues.