Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Batman and Robin Eternal #12 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Whoa.  Just whoa.

Let's start from the beginning.  As we saw last issue, Dick has entered the Sculptor's mind, and she takes him on a tour of the place.  She shows him Mother, with a young Orphan, murdering her parents.  The Sculptor tells Dick that Mother saw David as Adam and she as Eve in her pursuit to create Eden.  (Creepy.)  It raises some questions that the authors don't answer here, namely how Mother got her hands on David and why she went after him in the first place.  After all, the Sculptor tells us that Mother somehow knew about her telepathic powers.  What attracted her to David?  The Sculptor also confirms (not surprisingly) that he's a sociopath, enjoying inflicting the trauma on children that the Sculptor later molds.  For her part, the Sculptor accepts the role that she played in cultivating this trauma.  But, she stresses to Dick that she did it because she felt that she was the only one who could help the children, minimizing the trauma and then rushing them out the door of the Nursery for a chance at a regular life.  For his part, Dick believes her, and he begins to lobby her to help him fight Mother.

In walking Dick through Mother's methods, the Sculptor divides the children into two groups.  First, you've got the sleeper agents (like, it seems, Tim).  As the Sculptor says, they're doctors and lawyers and the like; Dick could never reach them.  To win, he has to stop Mother directly, but the Sculptor urges him to save the other group of children first:  the kids still in the Nursery.  They're not yet Mother's children, so they're vulnerable.  The Sculptor tells Dick that she's helping him because she wants to protect them, though she refuses to return with him, for reasons that she doesn't elaborate.  (It's implied that it would just be too traumatic, and she's trying to make her break.)

At this stage, though, we still don't know why Mother has developed this "new approach" that makes the trauma and the manipulation unnecessary.  (We learned last issue that she's using Crane's fear gas to do so.)  If the Sculptor has now been made redundant, as she says that she has been, then has Orphan been made so as well?  For an already unstable guy, it's probably not a good sigh of things to come.

But, this issue's big moment is when the Sculptor finally takes Dick to Batman's conversation with Mother.  When Mother confronts him with evidence that Dick revealed Bruce's secret identity to her by going after Crane on his own, Bruce agrees that Dick isn't the partner that he hoped that he would be. Dick is suitably rattled, particularly when Bruce demands that he be the one to kill the parents of the candidate that Mother has identified to replace him.  As the reader, it's easy to assume that Bruce is just playing along with Mother to get more information.  But, given the ending of the first issue, we also know (or, at least, think we know) that Bruce really does kill the candidate's parents.  As such, it lends some weight here to the idea that he actually does what he says that he's going to do here.  That said, Snyder and Tynion are going to have to explain why he agreed to kill so readily for us to buy it.  As Dick says, not killing is rule one.  Why does he abandon it?

*** (three of five stars)

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