Saturday, February 27, 2016

Batman and Robin Eternal #8 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Let's just jump right into it here, because we have a lot to cover.

Mother tells Dick that Bruce approached her to build a better Robin, and this revelation fits with the story that Snyder and Tynion have been telling so far.  (Of course, it doesn't mean that it's true.)  After all, we've seen that younger Dick's greatest fear -- the one that Scarecrow's gas revealed -- was that he wasn't good enough to be Robin.  But, Mother's taunting of Dick reveals something else, another theme of this series:  she believes that Cass and Harper will lose to her ballerinas, because she can't conceive that they'd be good enough to defeat them.  It implies -- slyly -- that Dick's nurturing may be better than Bruce's (and Mother's) militaristic way:  where both Bruce and Mother only saw failures, Dick saw strength.

To underline that point, of Mother seeing only weakness, Mother claims that Dick was hobbled by the loss of his parents rather than driven by it, like Bruce was.  But, again, we're left to ask if caring about people really is a weakness?  Underscoring her point, Dick leaves Mother, as she offers to show him which Robin she created for Bruce, to go help Cass and Harper.  It's something Bruce probably wouldn't have done, but increasingly Snyder and Tynion are telling us that it doesn't matter what Bruce would've done.  After all, Bruce's all-consuming focus on the mission -- the same type of focus that Mother has -- resulted in his current state, as an assistant at a day-care center.  Despite feeling rattled, Dick stays true to himself here.  He sacrifices getting an easy answer to help Cass and Harper and, when Cass bolts after she has an unexpected flashback, he tells Harper that they have to stick together.  Snyder and Tynion are reminding us that Dick is confident that they'll get where they need to be despite temporary setbacks.

(I will say here that Snyder and Tynion are somewhat oversimplifying Bruce's approach to his sidekicks.  Yes, Bruce would've likely left the girls to fend for themselves to go after Mother, but he would've done so because he was confident in their ability to handle the situation on their own.  In fact, he wouldn't have brought them with him if he didn't have that confidence in them.  I get where Snyder and Tynion are going with showing Bruce as less caring than Dick, drawing a contrast between their styles.  But, they need to be careful not to oversell it, turning Bruce into little more than the heartless leader of a squad of teenage mercenaries.)

One interesting twist here is that it does seem like Bruce initially met Mother backstage at the ballet in Prague, when he was theoretically looking for a wife.  It's possible that Batman met her earlier, but increasingly it seems like the meeting in this issue really was their first one.  As such, it seems more likely that Bruce created Cass in issue #1 than he did Orphan.  But, we'll see how that develops.

*** (three of five stars)

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