“Batman and Robin Eternal” has slowly reintroduced Cassandra Cain — one of the pre-“Flashpoint” Batgirls — back to the DC Universe. Ed Brisson, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Fernando Blanco and Christian Duce wisely carry much of Cassandra’s story over from pre-reboot continuity while connecting it to the mysterious Mother, though clearly this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Longtime readers will recognize a lot of the elements of Cassandra’s origin, like her father David Cain or the idea Cassandra didn’t learn speech in order to gain the ability to impeccably read body language. At the same time, though, this still connects to the greater “Batman and Robin Eternal” storyline, as David Cain’s plans for Cassandra involve her being as a weapon aimed squarely at Mother. Brisson takes Tynion and Snyder’s story and keeps it moving at a solid pace; we learn a lot in this issue and it never feels like it’s overly full of exposition. The conceit of a telepathic link is a smart one, because it allows Brisson to show rather than merely tell as well as to link into the larger ideas of how these people are molded by Mother.
At the same time, it’s hard to keep from feeling like there are still much larger revelations in store, and not just because we aren’t quite at the halfway point of this 26-part series. In many ways, it feels like Cassandra serves as a distractor of sorts, trying to keep us from looking at another character who could quite possibly be the custom-designed Robin for Bruce Wayne. The hints are all there for another character to fill that role, and — while those could prove to be red herrings — it’s fun to follow the trail Tynion, Snyder and Brisson are laying out.
Blanco and Duce split up the art, with Blanco drawing the bulk of the issue as Harper sees Cassandra’s origin via telepathy, while Duce draws the present-day framing sequence. Blanco’s layouts might remind you of ACO’s art on “Midnighter,” with lots of small inset panels that work well to reinforce the idea that this is a telepathic sequence with a literal narrator explaining what’s happening. The art itself is solid and easy to follow, and I like how Blanco draws the characters with strong but expressive faces. Duce’s art feels a tiny bit more stripped down, although that could be in part due to John Rauch cleverly using a different color scheme for those moments in the real world. Overall, it all meshes together well, and it’s a smart way to handle having two different artists drawing a single comic.
“Batman and Robin Eternal” #11 is a satisfying comic without needing to stand out. There isn’t a huge cliffhanger, but it moves at an even keel. Those who have been reading up until now will have no reason not to return next week, even as Cassandra Cain fans will rejoice in her continued repositioning as part of the Batman line’s future. No complaints here.