SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Batman and Robin Eternal” #17.
At the close of “Batman and Robin Eternal’s” debut issue, readers received quite a shock: for all appearances, it seemed as though Batman had murdered the parents of a little boy in Cairo as the child looked helplessly on. It’s a mystery that’s hung like a dark shadow over the series, and — in James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Ed Brisson, Scot Eaton and Wayne Faucher’s “Batman and Robin Eternal” #17 — the riddle has finally been solved.
Mother’s nefarious plans have unfolded over the course of the series. As we’ve seen so far, she uses trauma to mold children into whatever she wants them to be, during which time she earns their undying loyalty, and she is always seeking a faster — but just as effective — method of engendering that trauma. So, when Dick Grayson learned Batman turned to Mother for a better Robin, he was duly horrified and scrambled to find the truth.
“Batman and Robin Eternal” #17 flashes back to Cairo and resolves the first issue’s cliffhanger. As it turns out, it was all an act; Batman simply pretended to want a new Robin in order to earn Mother’s trust. As to the boy’s parents, he faked their deaths with tranquilizer darts, so they only appeared to die.
Unfortunately for Batman, the whole spectacle was a setup and the boy was Mother’s plant; she even set the scenario up to mirror his own childhood tragedy, as the scene went down right outside of a theater. In an effort to escape, Batman fought Orphan, but only until Mother threatened to take the boy’s life. During this exchange, Mother revealed that if Batman had passed the test, the boy would not have been his new Robin after all — and that someone in Gotham was being selected at that very moment, regardless of Batman’s cooperation.
The issue then cuts to Harper Row, who learns from Orphan that there’s more to her own past than the Sculptor let on — ultimately implying Bluebird is a result of Mother’s program, thanks to Batman. However, whether or not Orphan’s implications are true will have to wait until next issue.
“Batman and Robin Eternal” #17 is now on sale.