One of the last Batman stories during the New 52 era was Batman and Robin Eternal, a weekly maxi-series following up the previous year's Batman Eternal while putting the focus on the Caped Crusader's numerous sidekicks over the years. Uncovering a secret from Bruce Wayne's past, the series featured a whole host of writers and artists that would rewrite Bruce's history, with dark implications for several of his partners.
Now, CBR is taking a look back at this weekly series and how it changed the Batman mythos going into the DC Rebirth era.
WHAT IS BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL?
Batman and Robin Eternal was penned by a writers room including Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Steve Orlando, Tim Seeley, Genevieve Valentine, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Ed Brisson and illustrated by rotating artists including Tony S. Daniel, Paul Pelletier, Scot Eaton, Alvaro Martinez, Roge Antonio, Fernando Blanco, Fernando Pasarin, Christian Duce, Andrea Mutti, and Marcio Takara.
Running for 26 issues, the series featured a dual narrative of Dick Grayson's earliest days as Robin, secretly intertwined with the history Cassandra Cain, who was still in the thralls of a previously unseen villain known as Mother. As Batman and Robin travel the world to face Scarecrow and Mother in the past, the main story had Dick, now an operative for the intelligence agency Spyral, rally all of Batman's former allies against Mother's clandestine global conspiracy in the present while Batman was largely out of comission.
WHO IS MOTHER?
Taking place shortly after Bruce Wayne's apparent death in his final battle with the Joker under the streets of Gotham City, Grayson meets a young woman named Cassandra Cain who gives him a Batman-branded flash drive filled with secrets about Bruce's past. Learning of a clandestine organization headed by a mysterious figure named Mother, Dick coordinates between the other Robins, both past and present, to launch a global investigation in Mother's activities along with her trusted assassin Orphan.
Eventually, the Robins learn that Bane is attempting to retake Santa Prisca with the help of a resurgent Order of Saint Dumas, with its agent Jean-Paul Valley, revealed to be another of Mother's highly trained operatives. Orphan is revealed to be the martial arts master David Cain, who raised his daughter Cassandra in his footsteps to become a lethal fighter. After a frenzied battle, Mother and her organization are defeated while Cassandra joins Dick and his allies, turning against her father once and for all.
The Secret History of Batman and Harper Row
One of the most shocking revelations over the course of Batman and Robin Eternal was the connection between Bruce Wayne and Harper Row. Years before, a Batman at the earliest days of his crime-fighting career had approached Mother to create the perfect sidekick for him, especially with a still inexperienced Dick Grayson initially worrying Bruce. After learning of the murderous lengths Mother would go to prepare the perfect partner for Batman, Bruce ends his association when he discovers that Mother had Cassandra kill Harper's mother to traumatize her into becoming an ideal sidekick.
While Bruce and Harper eventually reconcile over the discovery, it would lead to Harper's retirement from serving as an active crime-fighter, as she discarding her superhero alter ego of Bluebird in favor of a quieter civilian life and returning to school.
The story would also reimagine longtime Batman supporting character and one-time Dark Knight replacement Jean-Paul Valley as another student of Mother's, similarly enduring an orchestrated trauma as a child before being trained by the Order of Saint Dumas to become the newest Azrael. Finally, the series brought Cassandra Cain's origins as a crime-fighter closer to Batman as the latest prospective student of Mother and David Cain before she defected to Batman's cause and becoming one of his most capable allies.
Concluding months before the end of the New 52 era, Batman and Robin Eternal shed light on dark secrets from Bruce Wayne's past and his efforts to build the perfect crime-fighting partner while examining the legacy of Robin. By reintroducing several familiar pre-Flashpoint characters into the Batman mythos, the series set the stage for Tynion's acclaimed run on Detective Comics during the DC Rebirth era as the Bat-Family continuef to grow and defend Gotham City.