After the members of the Bat family drifted away from one another over the past year, “Batman and Robin Eternal” seeks to bring them all back together as a group, whose dynamics are intimately understood by series architects Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Tim Seeley keeps the fast-paced issue humming along with solid dialogue and fun banter, showing readers why these books have the best extended cast of characters in mainstream comic books today. There isn’t as much revelation here as there was in last week’s installment, which ended with the mysterious Mother’s display of power. Readers likely won’t mind that, as the issue is full of high octane fights and two characters that readers have been yearning to see since the relaunch: Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain.
There isn’t a whole lot that gets advanced in this issue, which is the pace afforded to a weekly book. Though the plot is still in relatively the same place, Seeley does an excellent job of making it feel like there are real stakes in the fight while having fun with the characters. The story stays focused on the hullabaloo in Harper Row’s apartment as she fights for her life against a white-clad assassin, who appeared at the climax last week. The most fun comes anytime Dick Grayson is on panel, either through reactions to him — “Kiss me, Sexy Batman” should already be a Tumblr meme — or his own confident, cocksure approach to the problems at hand. Tim Drake, seemingly adrift since the New 52, feels like a much more assured character, settling down as an overconfident yet not arrogant teen hero, doing his best to create his own version of the legacy left to him by Dick and — to an extent — Jason Todd.
This week’s artist is Paul Pelletier, a veteran who knows how to compose exciting action sequences and engaging downtime scenes. There is a lot of close up choreography required in this installment because of the tight quarters of the environment, but nothing feels cramped or cluttered. The fights have bone-jarring impacts depicted with a veteran’s skill. Tony Kordos adds a grittier feel to the art, roughing up the artist’s typical smooth, model-like work to make it more visually consistent with Tony Daniel’s style in the last issue.
The biggest visual highlight is the Scarecrow flashback sequence, which allows Pelletier to cut loose and warp the page from Robin’s point of view, twisting and reshaping panels to convey Dick’s mindset while under the effects of Jonathan Crane’s fear gas. Rain Beredo makes the scene pop with hallucinogenic colors manipulated to create a dreamlike effect. Kudos to the art team for cutting loose and delivering a terrifying scene while also making it the most compelling visual element of the issue.
Though it will take some time to get to the big reveals, “Batman and Robin Eternal” #2 continues the fast-paced fun introduced in the first issue. Though the titular character is still more of a cameo player in the series, the book establishes itself as the one place to see the best parts of the Bat Universe interact with one another.