And so concludes the first arc of Morrison’s Batman and Robin – and, at least for now, Frank Quitely’s involvement. Throughout their arc, Morrison and Quitely have introduced the Circus of the Strange with their bizarre ringleader, Professor Pyg, a demented villain turning the citizens of Gotham into ‘Dollotrons’ through disfigurement and potent narcotics. And if that isn’t horrific enough for you, this issue sees Pyg dance as he imagines a sexy woman would before tearing off his shirt. Now that’s a creepy Batman villain.
The first arc concludes rather suddenly as Dick and Damian confronts Pyg in his lair. We get the origins of Pyg, learn more about his plans for Gotham, watch a few extremely well-illustrated action bits, and see how Dick and Damian make up after their split last issue. It’s a lot to handle in a single issue, and despite Morrison’s best efforts it still feels rushed in places, especially given that the issue ends with an epilogue introducing Scarlett to the Red Hood to set up the next arc. Even the ‘character’ after which the issue is titled (Mommy Made of Nails) receives only a single panel and, despite inspiring an excellent line from Pyg, is too heavily linked to the issue’s weakest moments – Pyg’s insane rants as he prepares to turn Damian.
Regardless, Batman and Robin #3 is an exciting read from start to finish. Quitely’s unique style makes the brief action sequences thrilling and dynamic, while also contributing a fairly monstrous look to the Dollotrons and their creator. His visual sensibilities will be sorely missed next issue, but he’s only half the team – despite the book’s first missteps this issue, Morrison continues to make the book a fun, action-packed exploration of Dick and Damian’s dynamic. If it’s DC’s objective to make us miss Bruce Wayne, they’re failing miserably – this is some of the most fun Batman’s been in awhile.
– Cal Cleary