What's going on with the dynamic between Tim Drake and Jean-Paul Valley? This issue explores the mantle of Azrael, as well as Batman's mission in the past to take down Mother and Scarecrow.
The issue takes a bit of a break from Bluebird and Cassandra to focus in on what's going on in Gnosis. Tim Drake brings in the unconscious body of Jason Todd as an offering to Azrael. Drake wants to train for Valley's order. This series is the first time we're getting to see Jean-Paul Valley in the New 52 and he's an incredibly intriguing and interesting character. Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (with James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder on the story) really do a fine job with his dialogue. He comes off as fanatical and devoted, which is exactly what he's supposed to be.
There is a bigger story going on here and while we're not going to spoil anything, in addition to developing Azrael more, readers are treated to a pretty exciting and fun story, that doesn't necessarily add anything huge to the overarching story, but that's actually what's nice about it. We actually get a pretty cool fight scene here as well, which shows off Tim's fighting ability.
I'm really not digging Jason Todd's mask. The mouth on the mask, which does not open or close, seems like overkill and comes off reading more like Red Tornado or Vision than Red Hood. There's something a bit more menacing about a mask with no mouth.
Christian Duce and colorist Gabe Eltaeb provide some solid art in this issue. Eltaeb is proving time and time again to be a solid and consistent colorist throughout all of his books. He knows how to make characters pop off the page. Duce does consistent work as well, but the overall art is just fine. There's not a giant wow factor to this issue that previous ones had. Don't get me wrong, it looks really good, but doesn't pack the same punch earlier issues did.
BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL is still solid and storywise, this is one of the bigger standouts of the series, giving readers more of a glimpse into Jean-Paul Valley. We get a cool fight sequence and there is a bit more about Mother and Scarecrow's past here. This series continues to be impressive and the best weekly series ever put out.