After last week’s blockbuster opening, Batman and Robin Eternal #2 has a little bit of a sophomore slump as a mysterious assassin almost beats Harper Row (aka Bluebird) to death until she is saved by Dick Grayson and a silent, deadly Cassandra Cain, who runs off to do other mysterious things. After the extended action scene, most of the issue is Stephanie freaking out about Dick being alive along with a flashback of Batman and Dick Grayson as Robin fighting the Scarecrow with some twisted, horror influenced art from Paul Pelletier and Tony Kordos and a bendy, trippy color scheme from Rain Beredos. This sequence makes up for a mostly lackluster fight scene between the mystery attacker, Cass, and Dick in which Pelletier starts strong with a kinetic double page spread of a full bodied kick from Cassandra Cain before pulling back from the action and even using storytelling shortcuts that diminish potential acrobatics from Grayson.
Even if Snyder and Tynion’s plot is mostly in a holding pattern for Batman and Robin Eternal #2, writer Tim Seeley infuses his script with a dollop of wit and grit. He makes Stephanie a fangirl of Dick Grayson, who she keeps calling “Nightwing” in reference to his heroic legacy, and gives her some funny lines, like “I’m the Spoiler. Enemy of crime, and people who don’t like purple.” However, she is still a bold crime fighter and not afraid to threaten Red Robin for monitoring her and Harper’s apartment as well as immediately charging into action wielding nunchucks when she hears Harper being attacked. If Batman Eternal told her superhero origin as she went on the run after learning her father (the cheesily named, yet actually threatening Cluemaster) ran a supervillain cabal, Batman and Robin Eternal should be her coming out party as it looks like she will play a more active role in getting to the bottom of why Mother and her silent killers are going after former Robins (and Harper Row) for some reason.
Paul Pelletier and inker Tony Kordos’ art for Batman and Robin Eternal #2 isn’t horrible, but it lacks the power and grace of Daniel’s work in the last issue. His serious, intense facial expressions aren’t too shabby, but they are out of place when Dick jokes about all the costumed heroes running around Gotham with a scowl on his face. He does a better job of showing Harper Row getting the crap beaten out of her with blood everywhere and still remaining in control with her high tech taser gun she picked up back in Batman Eternal. The page where Harper shoots the assassin does lose some punch as Pelletier shows what should be a big moment from a distance with sketchy, light blue colors from Beredos.
His flashback scene with Batman and Dick Grayson is much better as he uses the effects of Scarecrow’s fear toxin to create topsy turvy page layouts and draw disgusting caricatures of various Bat-villains. Even more frightening is Seeley’s dialogue for Batman as he reprimands Robin for getting in his way and hurting his ability to strike fear into Gotham’s criminals with his lighthearted jokes and smiles. These pages don’t progress the series’ overall plot (other than hinting at Scarecrow’s possible involvement in the attack on Harper), but reinforce its thematic base as the relationship between Batman and Robin continues to be thrown into a much darker light.
Batman and Robin Eternal #2 is an unfortunate, early slump for the early series with glacial plotting and some poor artistic choices in what should have been a brutal, scintillating fight scene. The fun and interesting conversations between Stephanie Brown and Dick Grayson and a harrowing, thematically relevant Scarecrow flashback keep things from being a total wash though.