Former Catwoman writer Genevieve Valentine takes lead writing duty in Batman and Robin Eternal #7, which sees Grayson, Bluebird and Cassandra Cain seeking answers about Mother at a ballet in Prague.
Is it good?
Batman and Robin Eternal #7 (DC Comics)
Lead Writer: Genevieve Valentine
Other Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
Dick Grayson, Harper Row and Cassandra Cain arrive in Prague, following the signal from the tracker that was put on Orphan; the villain seems to be in town to kill another person on the list that Grayson obtained from the flash drive a while back and the three heroes are determined to prevent any further murders. However, they could be heading into danger, since Mother seems to be one step ahead of them…
At the Batcave in Prague (cause why wouldn’t Batman have one there?), the three heroes set up their plan. Although the tracking signal went dead a while ago, Grayson stays behind in the cave to keep an eye on things in case the signal comes back. Meanwhile, Harper and Cassandra head to a ballet where the target is and keep a watch on her.
Elsewhere in Gamorra, Jason Todd and Tim Drake track down a different lead involving the electronic signals used at the dinner party where Bruce was almost killed by Mother’s agents
There’s a very brief flashback to what happened in Prague years ago. Batman was trying to get in contact with Mother as Bruce Wayne. However, in order to reach her, he needed to go to a specific ballet performance…
As Harper and Cassandra attend the ballet, Grayson picks up the signal again for Orphan’s tracker and follows it. It leads him all the way to the concert hall where the ballet is taking place and turns out to be trap! The issue ends with Harper and Cassandra being attacked by ballet dancers (including the person they were supposed to protect) and Grayson meeting Mother face to face for the first time. However, she seems to imply that they have already met before.
After a pretty intriguing flashback last issue, it was great to see this issue kept up the excitement and momentum. Batman and Robin Eternal #7’s story really picks up the pace now as the villains make their move, more of the past slowly integrates itself into the present narrative, and the plot overall makes some big progress. Everything happening so far with the story is great, but the true highlight when it comes to the writing is the characterization: Valentine understands our heroes very well and crafts some terrific scenes with each that really gets to the heart of them, from Tim and Jason bonding to Cassandra’s reaction to the ballet. It’s just fantastic and is easily some of the best character work in the book since Tim Seeley’s issues.
What also helped is the artwork by Martinez. I’m not familiar with his work, but he does a fantastic job here. Besides the characters and action (though there are some weird bending motions and missing limbs at points), the guy does solid layouts that are excellent at establishing mood — from the majesty of the opera to the dark and somber developments thereafter. I love how scenes unfold and flow in this issue, especially in the double page spreads that look epic and exciting. After this issue, I would love to see Martinez do a few more issues or even team up with Valentine again in the future.