“Batman and Robin Eternal” #4 closes out the first month of DC’s new weekly series, but — after a sharp opening chapter — things have slowed down considerably. James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando, Scot Eaton and Wayne Faucher shuffle the cast around and move them into different configurations even as there’s clearly some big revelations in store, but — for the moment — it’s more setup than actual excitement.
Orlando handles the script this month, and he does his best to pep things up a bit. Small moments, like a few newcomers using the “Zatoichi Maneuver” during the kitchen fight, will get a chuckle from those who recognize the name of the blind swordsman that was the subject of dozens of films, to say nothing of lines like, “Passionate food inspectors” (to explain the assassins to Bruce Wayne) and commands consisting of, “Drop the amuse-bouche! Go limp!” Orlando also does a good job of pacing each new addition that jumps into the fray at the gala. There are a lot of characters by the time the dust settles, and Orlando keeps it from becoming too overwhelming even as he introduces new faces to “Batman and Robin Eternal.”
On the downside, though, the plot itself isn’t that exciting this month. It feels like the main purpose is to insert all of these new faces into the series, and — while it does indeed tackle that 00 the fight itself isn’t that riveting, and a lot of it more or less has a big “to be continued” plastered across the moment. There isn’t anything terribly concrete that comes out of the gala attack, at least for now. Similarly, the Harper and Cassandra team-up could bear some fruit down the line, but it’s not standing out as anything out of the ordinary at this moment.
It’s nice to see Eaton’s pencils on a book again, having been a fan ever since his early days on “Doctor Fate” and “Swamp Thing.” He certainly did a solid job on his issues of “The New 52: Futures End” earlier this year, and he continues that work in “Batman and Robin Eternal” #4. Grayson’s leap into the kitchen is wonderfully energetic, and I like how he handles the new faces from the other Batman Family series. It’s easy to follow both the fighting and the quieter moments; Eaton’s art isn’t flashy, but it doesn’t need to be. It gets the job done efficiently and attractively.
The final page holds a big surprise about how far Mother’s reach goes, and hopefully it will kick things back into high gear for the second month of “Batman and Robin Eternal.” For now, though, this is a competent issue that never quite clears the bar of being average.