With the success of ‘Batman Eternal’, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV add another series to their ‘Eternal’ franchise. This twelve issue collective flashbacks to Batman and Robin’s quest to capture Scarecrow while in the present Dick Grayson and friends’ battle against Mother, the evil mind controller.
The opening pages drop the reader right into the action but what transpires can be confusing at times. From the start the story moves between the past and the present which coupled with busy artwork dislocates the reader, especially if you have not read ‘Batman Eternal’ to ground your understanding of the context. With so many characters to introduce, things do feel a bit cluttered especially at the start but as the story progresses the chief writers and their collaborators, Tim Seeley, Steve Orlando and Genevieve Valentine manage to flesh out most of the characters and individualize each of them at one point or another. This is done exceedingly well with Cassandra Cain, who’s backstory is done so compellingly, adding weight to her motivations in the present.
In the first two issues the plot moves along steadily, however, in issue three the plot begins to stagnate. With only a few fight sequences providing any real excitement. In later issues the story comes back to life. The narrative moves deeper into the past when Bruce first encounters Mother and travels to Prague to investigate her. Here the action, pacing of the story and Tony S. Daniel’s artwork combine to provide for great reading and visual stimulation. This improvement brought much relief as things before felt rather uneven and reading a chore sometimes.
Writer Genevieve Valentine improves the story further when we encounter Dick, Harper Row and Cassandra in Prague. Their exciting investigative work leads them closer to Mother and closer to the truth of why Bruce went to Prague years earlier. The characters become more interesting especially the interaction and bonding between Robins, Tim Drake and Jason Todd. Special mention also has to be given to a scene in issue # 7 when Cassandra goes to the ballet. Her reaction to the ballet, the fight that ensues and Alvaro Martinez’s artwork provide some of the best moments in the series.
As the story whirls around Mother and her inexplicable ability to control young minds, the reader becomes engrossed by this mysterious character. Very little about her is revealed in this volume but one definitely yearns to know more about her.
Overall, Batman and Robin Eternal Vol. 1 is a good read. It is inconsistent at times but mystery and intrigue permeates these characters and the story and as it gains momentum you sincerely want to learn more of what transpired between Batman and Mother, how the past links to the present and how the three Robins and their allies will stop her. With so many artists adding to the story the varying styles are jarring and like the script, similarly inconsistent but Tony S. Daniel and Martinez do some great work despite the other forgivable artistic inconsistencies.