Batman and Robin Eternal #5 Review

Writer Steve Orlando explores Tim Drake’s personal life and shows the growing rift between him and Dick Grayson, which is caused partially by the fact that he is a...

Writer Steve Orlando explores Tim Drake’s personal life and shows the growing rift between him and Dick Grayson, which is caused partially by the fact that he is a member of Mother’s army. However, Tim makes some fair points in the final two pages drawn with epic emotion by Steve Pugh (Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies) where he berates Dick for interfering in his civilian life because he is (rightfully) paranoid that any member of the Bat-family could be under Mother’s control. It is a highlight of a comic that must trickily balance multiple action set pieces while developing characters and connecting the past narrative of Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson) tracking down Scarecrow with the current fight against Mother, Orphan, and their army of possessed people.

Between the punching and yelling, writer Steve Orlando and artist Ronan Cliquet (Wolverine: First Class) find time to progress the relationship between Harper Row and Cassandra Cain in their buddy team-up as they go to a creepy church and run into Orphan. There is also a reference to the Order of the St. Dumas, and this leaves open the possibility that Jean-Paul Valley could show up as an ally or foe.  Orlando does a nice job connecting this sequence with the opening flashback through the shared location of the Church of St. Elijah the Thunderer (Better be some metalheads up in that house of worship.) and the manipulation of Cassandra Cain. However, Cliquet shows that Cass has grown since she was a brainwashed assassin for Mother with a panel layout looking like a katana blade, and a cathartic spray of blood after Cass slices Orphan with her sword. Colorist Gabe Eltaeb makes the red pop against the drab gray and solid black of Cass and Orphan’s costumes allowing the effects of this burst of violence to resonate with the readers. The jagged style of the panels and these spots of colors lets Cliquet’s more photorealistic breath and move and not stay static.

Less effective than the Cass and Harper subplot is the story starring Dick Grayson, the Drake family, and an evil Poppy Ashemoore, who is sporting some tech straight from the God Garden (A great nod to Midnighter.) even if the cannibalism she displayed in Grayson is unfortunately absent. The relationship between Tim and his parents isn’t well-defined until a mini-information dump towards the end of the issue where it starts to become pretty obvious that he has been an agent of Mother for a long time. Also, it could be that some of Tim’s actions towards his parents were explained in the Teen Titans, which I haven’t read. Orlando makes a valiant effort connecting  the relationship between Tim and his parents to the one between Dick and Batman, but there really is no connection between Tim and them just lots of keywords and sassy booby traps for intruders. It even seems like they might be robots or under mind control themselves in a Stepford kind of way.

One of the things that set Tim Drake apart from the other Robins was that he had a stable home life compared to the others, who were orphans or Damian Wayne. Unfortunately, Scott Snyder and James Tynion have taken away this character trait from him for now to better make him the tech savvy villain of the first arc of Batman and Robin Eternal. Orlando and Pugh do salvage this issue with the earlier mentioned two page closing sequence, which reminded me of the “Old Wounds” episode of Batman: The Animated Series where Dick Grayson socked Batman in the jaw because he didn’t tell Dick that Barbara Gordon was Batgirl. Likewise, Tim punches Dick after he lets “Bruce” slip in his dialogue and tells him how much he has changed. Orlando’s writing in the final pages shows that Dick is having a difficult time balancing his spy work with Spyral with being the Bat-family’s team dad, and this is a story thread that could last for the remainder of the weekly.

Batman and Robin Eternal #5 has solid art, especially when Ronan Cliquet busts out some unique layouts and detailed close-ups of Harper Row and Cassandra Cain during particularly impactful moments like when Orphan calls Cass and monster before disappearing in smoke. Steve Orlando also has a good handle on the character interactions, especially Harper and Cassandra, and writes a Dick Grayson, who is uncannily becoming a lot like Batman in Bruce’s absence from the cape and cowl. Unfortunately, Tim Drake’s new backstory ruins a lot of the character’s endearing qualities as his personality and relationship with his family are put on hold for his role as brainwashed assassin of Mother.

Batman and Robin Eternal #5
Story by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Script by Steve Orlando
Pencils by Scot Eaton, Ronan Cliquet, and Steve Pugh
Inks by Wayne Faucher, Ronan Cliquet, and Steve Pugh
Colors by Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics

Batman and Robin Eternal #5
7.5 Overall
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Logan Dalton

Logan is a nerdy, bisexual ginger, who recently graduated university with a degree in English Literature and Overanalyzing Comic Books. He loves comics, music (especially New Wave and BritPop), film (especially Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright), sports (college football and NBA), TV, mythology, and poetry. Joss Whedon is his master, Kitty Pryde is his favorite superhero, and his current favorite comic is The Wicked + the Divine.

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