'Batman & Robin Eternal' #2 Review: Oodles of Orphans

After the super fast-paced first issue, #2 slows things down a bit — to mixed results.

Two Robins and several other teenage vigilantes show up in Batman & Robin Eternal #2, but the focus remains squarely on the life, both past and present, of Dick Grayson. Dick has been known by many names, including the original Robin, Nightwing, Batman (when Bruce Wayne was dead or missing in time or... something), and these days he goes by the code name Agent 37, working for super spy agency Spyral.

The issue begins with the mystery figure known only as "the Orphan," a lethal, sword-wielding operative for the equally mysterious "Mother." The two of them seem to be at the heart of the seemingly random attacks on Batman's sidekicks, but in this issue, all of the Orphan's attention is focused on Harper Row, aka techno-butt-kicker Bluebird.

Who this Orphan is likely won't be revealed for some time. But he looks suspiciously like a certain dashing billionaire vigilante, who's currently off the playing board and is also, incidentally, an orphan. But then, there are no shortage of orphans in Gotham.

Dick has been away from Gotham for a while, it seems, so his reactions at encountering so many costumed teenagers running around the city provides the biggest laughs, while new player Cassandra Cain — just entering the New 52 continuity in an as-yet-unexplained role — steals every scene she's in without saying a word.

The pencils by Paul Pelletier aren't so different from Tony Daniel's work on last week's issue as to be disconcerting, and Pelletier has a strong style for bone-crunching action. His composition is very clean, but not afraid to step outside the box (so to speak) when called for.

A flashback continues the story of Batman and Robin's first-ever encounter with Scarecrow, aka Dr. Jonathan Crane, and Pelletier produces some genuinely terrifying imagery here. Tony Kordos' inks and Rain Beredo's psychadelic colors really enhance the haunting effect.

Despite the flashbacks and witty dialogue, there's no getting around the fact that this week's issue is comprised entirely of reactionary content. It's all connective tissue, which doesn't translate into much in the way of storytelling. On the plus side, the price dropped a dollar since last week's debut issue, so from this point forward, Batman & Robin Eternal will hit up your wallet for just $2.99.

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