There are several different ways to explore the issues of suspicion and mistrust. Often, authors of mystery or thriller novels will plunge the reader into the midst of layered deceit and elaborate lies, allowing the reader to accompany the protagonist on the journey toward truth and to join in its discovery, whether that revelation induces exaltation or despair. More rarely, an author may take the position of a cold and unsympathetic deity watching from above as deception and betrayal cause mistrust to grow between characters like magically expanding thorn bushes. Genevieve Valentine, who contributed the script for Batman and Robin Eternal #7, is probably best known to most comics fans as the writer of the latest incarnation of Catwoman, a run that saw Selina Kyle embrace her gangster heritage in a storytelling style reminiscent of Mario Puzo or perhaps John le Carre. Therefore, it’s somewhat surprising to see her step back from the tangles of the plot into a more moralistic, God’s eye position.
The key encounter in this issue is between Dick Grayson and Mother, who claims to have met him before although Dick evidently has no memory of it. While they talk backstage at the Prague ballet, Harper and Cass are in the audience dealing with an attack from the dancers, who are apparently all drones of Mother’s. Like Talia al Ghul and Leviathan in Batman Incorporated, Mother’s reach is beginning to seem rather ludicrous. I, for one, would be interested in knowing who paid for Poppy Ashemore, and just what they were hoping to accomplish. But, regardless, up until the point of Ballerinas Attack Valentine and artists Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez do a fine and subtle job with Cassandra’s reaction to the dance. As a creature for whom movement is language, Cass would find the ballet a Baroque chorus. The conversation between Mother and Dick has no such artistry. She rather clumsily attempts to play on any insecurities he might possess by suggesting that all those years ago Bruce came to her to buy a superior model Robin. Of course, we have already seen that Bruce was thinking no such thoughts.
Meanwhile, Jason and Tim trace the source of the signal Mother appears to be using to control her servants to Gamorra Island, a piece of real estate transported into the DCU from the WildStorm Universe. We don’t yet know if it is still the home of Kaizen Gamorra and his criminal clan of cyberneticists and genetic engineers, although such would certainly fit with the theme of Batman and Robin Eternal. For the time being, the two Robins retreat to a bar where Tim confesses he has trouble trusting Dick’s judgment because their oldest brother is just too close to Bruce. It is an insightful comment, and perhaps even a fair one. The problem, of course, is that we know Tim himself seems to be one of Mother’s sleeper agents.
This issue skillfully shows misunderstanding and mistrust spreading like a malignancy. It also features one of the most interesting developments in the series to this point, the emergence of Jason Todd, of all people, as the locus of trust and unity. Yet, that perhaps makes sense. Anyone wishing to divide the Robins would naturally focus on Dick and Tim, trusting in Jason's well-demonstrated rebellious nature to do its work once the other two are distracted. It is a classic case of misunderstanding and underestimating the strength and complexity of your enemy. Or his stubbornness. With Jason, it seems to be the same thing.