So, Mother and Batman made a deal when Dick Grayson was still Robin, something so awful Batman never shared what happened, and he’s unavailable right now.
So, it falls to the Robins to stop Mother from making the world’s children her private army of killers.
OK, so, something about the finale where mobs of children suddenly become assassins out to take out any and all adults seems a bit…wrong since these kids weren’t given any training and are still children. But let’s let that slide right now.
Volume 2 makes it clear the point of Batman & Robin Eternal is to, if not celebrate all the Robins (plus Bluebird), then at least it defines what their purpose is in Batman’s world. Much of that comes from Bruce’s concern he isn’t that different from Mother and how that haunted him as he recruited and trained each Robin, including Damien who finally shows up to help about halfway through this second volume. Robins are supposed to be the things Batman can’t be. And that’s a rather good distinction. It defines all the Robins individually and collectively.
As for the rest of the story, while giving Bluebird more of a background and explaining why she (probably temporarily) hung up her costume and how the story gave Cassandra Cain a new codename, this volume did a few things that didn’t work for me beyond the fact random kids are suddenly world-class killers. For one, Mother’s origin wasn’t bad, but she turned into the metaphorical broken record after that, constantly repeating her motives and philosophy. It didn’t make her a strong villain so much as an annoying one. And while accepting the fact that other heroes could probably solve a lot of Batman’s problems with a lot less effort, normally they just don’t even get a namedrop. Not this time, as Superman and the Justice League are both mentioned by name, but when the heroes are dealing with hijacked space-based satellites, they don’t do more than briefly ponder calling the Justice League in to take care of them. Had they not mentioned the League at all, it probably wouldn’t have been something I thought about given this is a Batman-universe story.
Then again, I think it would have helped if I knew more about the supporting cast for Dick Grayson’s book a the time. I mean, I recognized the Midnighter (that was a pleasant addition), but that was all.
So, weak villain with a plot that didn’t seem to quite work for me. Still, it did largely work to have the various Robins work together and combine their skills to save the day in a way that, the story suggests, Batman couldn’t. Batman himself only really shows up at the end, and everything is more or less resolved, but I doubt I’d ever want to see Mother again.
8 out of 10 times for Mother to once again say how she’s making children perfect.