A Batman & Robin: Eternal #1 Review – The Burden of (Low) Expectations

Batman & Robin Eternal #1TITLE: Batman & Robin Eternal #1
AUTHORS: James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder
PENCILLER: Tony Daniel
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: October 7, 2015

***Readers might want to check out Grayson #12, as it sets this issue up quite nicely.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m going on record right now: If this book gets as tedious and stupid as Batman Eternal did, I’m out. For some ridiculous reason, I paid $156 for every issue of that series. And like every weekly series DC has put out that isn’t 52, it was a big waste of time and money. So if Batman & Robin Eternal goes off the rails, I won’t be sticking around to watch the awful blaze.

However, Batman & Robin Eternal may be better equipped for success. It’s only 26 issues, which means the creators hopefully won’t have to use as much fluff and filler as they did for its predecessor. Plus, a series with a cast of former Robins is an intriguing idea. The Robin legacy as a whole has been left so ambiguous in the New-52verse that spending some quality time with it would likely do it some good. This series will hopefully supply us with the sense of history we’ve sorely missed.

As an added bonus: This issue introduces Cassandra Cain into the New 52 continuity.

Cassandra Cain, Tony Daniel, Batman & Robin Eternal #1Playing off the events of Grayson #12, the rest of Dick’s surrogate family now knows he’s alive. This issue sees our favorite sexy super-spy help Red Hood and Red Robin catch a bad guy before returning to a familiar location on Spyral business. Then Dick is attacked by a group of well-dressed children with guns, as well as his Spyral partner, followed by a mysterious and lethal martial artist he doesn’t know. His assailant gives him a flash drive that leads him into a mystery in Batman’s past. Via recorded hologram, Bruce calls it his “greatest sin” and his “deepest regret.” The issue ends with a disturbing image which hints at what our mysterious villain, Mother, may be capable of.

Perhaps I’m reading into something that isn’t there, but this issue seems to hint that Dick, Jason, Tim, and others working with Batman was somehow preordained. As if somehow it was all part of a master plan connected to Mother. If that is what they’re going for, then I might as well tag out now. The notion that there was some sort of grand “Robin plan” in place, and that Dick and the others aren’t simply companions Bruce met during his journey, takes so much of the fun away from the Robin concept. The same goes for Batgirl. Bluebird, or whoever else Batman has taken under his proverbial wing. Can we please not make Robin into yet another stupid prophecy character?

Batman & Robin Eternal #1, Tony DanielApparently this series will also present us with the next chapter in Harper Row’s story. In this issue we see she’s capable of manipulating Jim Gordon’s Batman suit. A rivalry between those two could be interesting. But it’s more likely we’ll see why she’s “the key to everything they cannot know. And that is why you must die.” Uh oh, that’s nothing to sneeze at. Batman’s partners have a pretty bad mortality rate, even though they do all come back to life.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Tony Daniel and colorist Sandu Florea’s art since the New 52 began, but what we see here is mostly satisfactory. I imagine the scene between Dick, Jason, and Tim taking place in the glow of a big red light wasn’t an accident. The motorcycle chase scene with Dick, leading into the fight with Cassandra was very nicely done. We also have an assassin character called The Orphan who has a cool reveal.

Sadly, Daniel is already passing the artistic baton. For upcoming issues, the reigns will be passed between Paul Pelletier, Scot Eaton, Fernando Pasarin, among others. I suppose the best we can hope for are smooth transitions between the various pencillers.

I don’t have high hopes for Batman & Robin Eternal. But in truth, I’d almost be willing to endure another crappy weekly series if they worked in new costumes for the Red Hood and Red Robin. Take the Bat-Symbol off Jason’s chest, and just start from scratch on Tim’s costume. That thing’s been an eye sore since day one.

Image 1 from ign.com. Image 2 from flickeringmyth.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

A Convergence #1 Review – Mortal Kombat!!!

Convergence #1 coverTITLE: Convergence #1
AUTHORS: Jeff King, Scott Lobdell
PENCILLER: Carlo Pagulayan. Cover by Tony Daniel.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: April 8, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Convergence #1,***

So Convergence is basically Mortal Kombat with more characters. Like, a lot more characters.

As we learned in Convergence #0, Telos, who is apparently an apprentice of Brainiac, is pitting the heroes from his master’s various domed cities from across the DC multiverse against each other. The losers will see their realities perish, while the winners continue on. In the end, one city and it’s heroes will remain. A line in the issue literally describes it as: “A perverse tournament.” And as the chaos is starting to unfold, the issue actually ends with the words, “It has begun.”

Yup. Sounds like Mortal Kombat to me. Only the scope is larger, and there are more capes.

We open with the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe apparently suffering from the effects of Telos’ actions, in a scene that has a curious ending. Um, is this game supposed to have a sequel? Just wondering…

Convergence #1, page 2We then go to the Earth-2 cast, as they land on the same planet we saw New 52 Superman on last issue. Their world has apparently been destroyed, and they’re bickering. DC has apparently been building to Convergence with these characters for quite some time with the Earth-2: World’s End weekly series. I can only assume this scene is somewhat meaningful to readers who’ve been following that book. As someone who hasn’t, this scene falls a little flat. Still, the characters are themselves are intriguing. At the very least, readers with no Earth-2 knowledge get introduced to alternate versions of Superman, Batman, etc.

We get some decent action, followed by a big monologue from Telos, where he announces his plan to the various domes. Carlo Pagulayan does a nice job with the art here, and I like the hexagonal imagery that’s used to represent the domes. But what he’s saying comes off a little hokey. At one point he even drops names of specific stories…

“Some of you came to me at a time of infinite crisis. Others were brought here in the final moments of their zero hour. Whether it was a flashpoint for a time that never was – or of kingdoms that will never come…”

It’s truly amazing just how big a crisis this is for these infinite earths. We might see the death of Superman, or even a tombstone that says Batman: R.I.P. Also, Blackest Night. *barf*

Convergence #1, TelosOne thing I will commend Convergence for is the way it’s playing up Superman as the centerpiece to the DCU. The final page shows us a bunch of Supermen (Kingdom Come Superman, Red Son Superman, etc.) flying toward the reader. However, curiously absent from the issue at large is New 52 Superman. While I wasn’t a fan of how Convergence connected with Superman: Doomed, putting Superman at the center of issue #0 was a smart idea, because everybody knows who he is. Not following up with DC’s canonical Superman in this issue is an odd creative choice. Couldn’t we have cut a little bit so we could at least see a quick shot of him? Is the New 52verse even affected by what Telos is doing at this point? I’m confused…

The impression I have based on this issue is that Convergence proper is meant to be little more than the book that ties the various spin-offs together, and little more. This is mostly exposition, with very little substance. Carlos Pagulayan’s art is nice to look at. But in terms of characters we’re supposed to follow and root for, we’ve now jumped from New 52 Superman, to the Injustice characters, to the Earth-2 characters. It’s fine to have a story that spans multiple realities. But who’s guiding us through those realities? Tell me that, and you’ll have more of my attention.

Images from newsarama.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/