Pick of the Week

08.26.2009 – Batman & Robin #3

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iFanboy
community think?

1222
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Avg Rating: 4.5
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 76.4%
 
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Size: pages
Price: 2.99

Well, this absolutely crazy week of big name releases and excellent reads really lived up to its billing.

It came down to a photo finish between two books that were both excellent for reasons both different and similar. In the end, though, there could be only one choice as the Pick of the Week and this might just be the first time that Barry Allen has ever lost a race.

It’s a shame that Frank Quitely isn’t the permanent artist on Batman & Robin, because what he had writer Grant Morrison are doing together is some next level comic book stuff. Together they are making almost every other super hero comic book look like kids stuff. It’s so good that I’d have the book come out four times a year rather than have someone else draw it.

But that’s the future; let’s talk about the here and now.

Batman & Robin #3 wraps up the first arc in this new Batstatus quo and I couldn’t be any happier about what I have read so far. This entire arc has been the Pick of the Week and no book that I can think of in recent times has deserved such continuous accolades. We’ve had our first adventure with Dick Grayson as Batman and Damien Wayne as Robin and even though they appear in other comic books they don’t feel as real and as true and as vibrant as they do in Batman & Robin. This is the book where we are actually getting to see the differences between the old and the new heroes. This is the book where are actually getting to explore the new relationships and the new dynamics between these decades old characters. And this is the book where it really and truly feels like a new era in Gotham City.

I mean no disrespect to the other Batman books, all of whom I am enjoying immensely, but Batman & Robin is where the real action is.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next issue because right now I feel like the magic that is going on here is in the alchemy between Morrison and Quitely. With this book we have a creative team that has put a lot of thought and effort into what they are putting on the page. Everything has a point and a purpose and makes sense within the story. This is the only Batbook where Damien actually looks like the 10 year old kid that he is. This is the only Batbook where it actually looks like a different person behind the cape and the cowl. I’m not knocking other artists, but it sometimes seems that the number of people drawing comics these days who actually spend a lot of time thinking about what they are drawing and putting in the effort to get the details right is lower than it should be. Or maybe that’s why some artists are great. All I know is that most times that I see Batman show up in the pages of other books, he looks just like Bruce. And the last time I saw Damien in a book he looked like he was 16.  There is a lot of time and care, and most importantly, thought being put into these pages and the results speak for themselves.

In this issue, Batman and Robin finally take down Professor Pyg, a villain that Grant Morrison is setting up to be a big deal in Gotham City’s future. I really like Professor Pyg. He’s got the whack job factor that would be ridiculous and silly if he wasn’t so creepy and scary. That’s the kind of thing that defines the best villains in Gotham. I also noticed in this issue that we never got to see Pyg’s face. Even when his mask was knocked off and he was hauled away to jail, we never got to see it. It was always in shadow or obscured by something. I like that. It’s not that I think that Pyg’s identity is some big secret — it’s not — it’s that I like the air of mysteriousness that is created. The less we know about something (or someone) the scarier it tends to be. I like that all I know of Pyg’s appearance is that creepy pig mask. If I knew that he just looked like a normal fat dude, I wouldn’t find him nearly as disturbing.

 One of the best things about this issue was that there were many things going on at once, and that Grant Morrison wasn’t just ending one story, he was weaving in multiple threads. After sending Professor Pyg off to jail, we not only see that one of Pyg’s victims has been recruited by The Red Hood to be his sidekick, but that Batman and Robin have begun to hunt down members of The Black Glove, the shadowy group of malcontents that tried to break Bruce Wayne (and give Dick Grayson a lobotomy) in Batman R.I.P. I like that even though we are in a new era of Batman, there are still left over elements, business that Bruce left undone that Dick has taken upon himself to finish. Obviously, dealing with The Red Hood is going to be the focus of the next arc, but I hope that Batman and Robin continue to bring down The Black Glove in the background.

I also like that slowly but surely we can see that Damian is starting to pick up what Dick is putting down. By the end of this third issue he seems to have finally grasped the concept of partners. It’s going to be a long road for Damian, but he’ll get there eventually, and we’ll have a hell of a lot of fun watching him do it.

As with every issue of this series, as I turned each page I didn’t want to stop reading, I didn’t want this issue to end. I wanted to keep going, to stay immersed in this world of intricately choreographed fights and big, beautiful splash pages. A world of creepy villains and heroes who look the same, but feel different. A familiar world that is suddenly exciting and new again.


Conor Kilpatrick
“It’s Batman and Robin from now on” is catchy
conor@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. I said it on the book’s thread, but it cannot be said enough, these two creators bring out the best in each other.

    Even though you hit on this it was a great end to a great arc, with enough in it to show how it is moving forward.

    I hope that the identity of the Red Hood is drawn out a bit, and that it turns out to be the famed character that it has been in the past.

  2. I love it when Conor has the pick just because he seems to get it all done ridiculously fast.

  3. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Pyg be craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy. 

    Great, great book.  

  4. Yay. I am too pleased to see Morrison and Quietly win this thrice in a row. As I get my comics mailed and so half a week late, I cannot concur but suspect that that will be the case for me as well.

  5. I hope Pyg sticks around as a part of the Batman mythos.  He’s a good villain.

  6. I may have nightmares because of Pyg’s speeches… but that’s alright since this book was so damned awesome. Only other thing that came close this week was Green Lantern (and I guess Flash: Rebirth in a close third)

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    This was like Batman meets Silence of the Lambs. Pyg makes the Joker look well adjusted. 

  8. I bought six books this morning and had time to read just one before work.  During this crunch, what did I pick?  Why, this book of course.  It was great.  I can’t help but think that I should have saved it for last though.

    Well written review, Conor.  Looking foward to hear you all discuss it this weekend. 

  9. Fantastic review of a fantastic book. Not my POW (which was Hickman & Eaglesham’s FF), but great.

  10. I’m loving this book, but I

  11. WTH…anyway…I love this book, but I feel like the art fell off quite a bit this issue. There a couple panels where Bats looks weird and misformed. This is even more disappointing because the majority of this book looks out of this world.

    The story is great though and Pyg is the best addition to the Batverse in a very long time.

    I’m looking forward to more of this.

  12. this was awesome, right now it’s close race for me pickng my POTW too. man this was good

  13. This was awesome. I love Damian. I love Dick Grayson. I love them together. Greatness.

  14. love the new damian. what a pint-sized badass!!

  15. The blood goes BANG!

  16. figures.

  17. It almost frustrates me that I enjoy reading about Damian now. When he first showed up he seemed so pointless and annoying and now he’s geniuenly interesting. In an interview a couple months back, Morrison described Damian as his "own little wolverine" because of the way he deals with most situations and was saying he was having a blast writing him. I think that’s on the page. Every Damian scene has a hint of lunacy and a slight disregard for decency.

  18. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the page with Le Bossu simply a retelling of the final pages of Batman R.I.P. I think it is and I love it.  It ties the two arcs together in a perfect little bow.  

    I’m also fairly certain that Pyg victim being recruited at the end is the one Damian failed to save. Could that be his nemesis going forward, his mistake coming back to bite him in the ass (possibly literally, given Pyg’s behavior)?

    Loved every page of it. 

  19. This kicked ass…simple as that.

  20. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @stulach – I believe that’s the girl, yes. 

  21. Awesome–Batman & Robin is 3 for 3 as far as iFanboy PoTWs.

    Not awesome–for some reason I decided that I was going to get this issue sent to me along with some other comics I bought online. So I can’t read this today. That hurts, bad.

    In Conor’s review he mentioned the Black Hand–You mean Black GLOVE, right?? All I know is that Dr. Hurt is coming back in this series before issue 12–he was in the preview for future things at the end of issue 1.

    Cool that Le Bossu is apparently in this issue. R.I.P. was like a traumatic experience not only for Bruce but also for the readers (for me, it was traumatic in a good way!), and I definitely am going to need more closure as far as the Black Glove and Hurt’s crew goes.

  22. @flapjaxx: Yep, I meant Black Glove. Fixed it.

  23. I’m glad I read this arc, but between the new artist and a Red Hood storyline, I don’t see myself sticking with it.

    DETECTIVE continues to rock my socks, and I also adored WOLVERINE FIRST CLASS, which was basically Peter David writing a prequel to X-Factor.  If you like PAD writing Madrox but don’t necessarily care for future storylines and other elements of the current book, this one-shot is well worth picking up.  Nice basic character-driven storytelling, which is what this book excels at.

  24. @stuclach: Yep, that was the same moment as the end of RIP. We’ve come full circle.

  25. @conor – Excellent. That is very satisfying.

  26. @stuclach: (At least I think it was. It looked like it.)

  27. @conor – I pulled out the last issue of R.I.P. and the text and images are nearly identical, so I think it was intentionally meant as a retelling.  My opinion of Morrison has risen with each issue of this series.  He has become an excellent storyteller.  I am increasingly jealous.

  28. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Also gotta give some big ups to Fantastic Four this week. What a cool last page! Hickmania is runnin’ wild!

  29. Unbelievable. This site has made this series POTW three straight issues!!!

    Not that I’m complaining, it’s my pick as well. Fantastic issue and I just can’t wait to see where else Morrison is taking this. Oh and Prof. Pyg might be the strangest motherfu*ker in the history of comics. That dance he did in the middle of this was insane. Oh and did anyone else notice the circus this was held at is the same place Joker tortured Gordon so many years ago? Nice touch.

  30. @TNC That dance in the middle is (based on my interpretation of the book) an example of how Morrison is injecting the ridiculous, but fun characteristics of the 60’s TV series into the book without making the book itself ridiculous.  He (along with Quitely, obviously) has taken all the best parts of the Batman mythos and mixed them together to produce something that feels fresh. I find the fact that they are doing this without Bruce’s unrelenting magnetism to work with positively amazing.

    I know I’m gushing at this point, but I haven’t been this excited about a book in a long, long time. 

  31. @stuclach: Well the 60’s TV series was ridiculous but not that…..

    Sorry I need to correct myself midpost, it’s pretty much spot on.

  32. This was a great book. Chilling and ridiculous at the same time. I do kinda wish that we could have had one more issue of this story. Somewhere in the middle, I sensed a tiny resurgence in the Morrison traits that I don’t like; the way he wrapped up the action and exposition seemed to cut really fast. But that’s a very minor complaint, given that the whole 3-issue arc really does play like a TV episode and manages to evoke such a strange and unsettling feeling while still building on the characters and relationship of Dick and Damian.

    Gotta say, though… there’s no way Flash: Rebirth was a close second for me (especially not with Detective right there next to B&R). I thought Flash was pretty bland honestly. Reminded me of exactly what I disliked about GL: Rebirth — one big retcon explanation that’s framed by a fairly bland story.

    Hickman’s FF was pretty good. Not totally sold on it, but I definitely enjoyed it. 

     

  33. Red Hood’s new sidekick=awesome origin. Robin feeling responsible will be classic batman-ey, and splendid.

     

    Do we know the identity of this Red Hood?  Is it Jason Todd, or a mystery? 

  34. @Gabe: I think we’re suppose to believe it’s either Jason Todd (most likely) or even Joker (less likely).

    Knowning Morrison, it’s probably neither.

  35. I love this series so far. I haven’t talked back to a comic in years awesomesauce!

  36. The line about the faces and the masks coming off actually made me gasp and cringe… and I don’t do either of those.  Good issue, but I went with Blackest Night: Titans.

  37. Pyg sure knows how to dance.  He bent down til his ass touched the floor!

    My pick as well.  Flash: Rebirth was not even close.  It was good, but not great.

    Detective, Dynamo 5 and Guardians of the Galaxy were all in the running for me.   

  38. Noticed that this issue connects to the last issue of RIP. Word for word, right before Batman and Robin smash through the window and confront Le Bossu. Nice touch.

  39. Also, this issue connects to ‘The Killing Joke’ because of the setting.

  40. It’s Conor’s week, and he picks… another Batman book. That’s why I love ifanboy: the surprises. Sigh.

  41. Could be worse… it could be x-men forever #6….

  42. Oh, I assumed Red Hood was Jason Todd because that’s who it was last time I read a Batman book.  Is the identity in doubt?

  43. @ohcaroline: I’m thinking that with Grant Morrison writing, we’re not taking anything for granted. 🙂

  44. @ohcaroline – I agree with JeffR (as usual).  Jason Todd would be a relatively boring choice and Mr. Morrison seldom makes the boring choice.  If he does use Jason Todd, then I fully expect him to be a much more interesting version than we have encountered in the past.

  45. @WonderManFan-You’re reaction is just as surprising 😉

    I can’t see Morrison using Jason Todd as Red Hood.  It’s possible, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it turned out to be someone else.

  46. I’m clearly too stupid to be reading this book.  Carry on.

  47. @ohcaroline – I don’t think that’s the problem.  Lack of knowledge and stupidity are two different things.  You simply haven’t read as many Batbooks (I would be in the same situation if we were discussing X-books).  Luckily, ignorance is correctable.  Stupidity isn’t.  Plus, you may well be right about Jason Todd.

  48. Actually, I also assumed it would likely be Jason Todd. Just a Morrison-ized version of him. It’s not like he’s exactly afraid of putting his own spin on a character, after all.

  49. Hmmm…the more I think about it, it might actually make some sense if it’s Jason.  In battle for the cowl he was obsessed with being Batman and having his own Robin.  So now that he failed at that, its plausible that he would turn to being the Red Hood and still have a desire to have a sidekick.  And the idea of Morrison doing his own take on each Robin (past and present) is pretty interesting.

  50. So so glorious, compellingly new yet everything I ever want from a Batbook.  This felt really twisted, but as that occurred to me, all I could think was what a perfect tone he was hitting for a Batman story. Morrison has succeeded in that rarest of things, a new villain who could sit side by side with the classics like Joker, Two Face et al. And that Quitely art?  Some of his best, I love this kind of sketchy look he’s developed for this comic. 50 stars!!

  51. Excellent and succint review of the best DC comic of the year (if not years). As many have said, Grant & Morrison bring out the very best in each other. I was never too fond of bratty Damian or Batman-Jr. Dick, but this book has forced me to change that. And who would’ve thought that a pig-masked, striptease-loving, crazy-ass creep like Mr. Pyg would become a fan favorite in just three issues? I already miss him and look forward to his return. That’s how good this book is. It brings you inside the new Bat universe and never lets go. 50 stars!

  52. Well done. Anyone get the sense Morrisson wrote this in such a way (or Quietly drew this in such a way) that they wont be on the book for awhile, and did a sort of, "farewell for now" kinda job on this particular issue?

    Or maybe I’m reading into their alchemical craft way too much.

  53. I think I need to read this book again because I wasn’t feeling it at all. I really liked last 2 issues even though I’m one of those rare folks that doesn’t really care for Quitely art. I know it’s good but just not my thing. I think my problem is I’m pretty new to batbooks and didn’t get the references to RIP and didn’t know red hood was once Jason Todd. Last I knew he was at one time Joker.

  54. @jediaxle – one point: I don’t think you NEED to know that Red Hood was last Jason Todd to enjoy this issue. I mean, that’s just the tease at the very end of the issue. I’m sure Morrison will give you what you need to know as the next storyline gears up. I think they’re doing a good job of making the book fairly new reader friendly thus far.

  55. I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly blown away by this issue, but I don’t think that has anything to do with not being up to speed on continuity.  It doesn’t really matter to me who the guy coming in the window is or where Dick and Damian are headed because I assume that’s for next issue.  The story didn’t grab me because the characters and the story didn’t really resonate with me and certainly didn’t make me eager to see what comes next.  I’m not apologizing for that, but I’m not blaming the storytelling either.  Different strokes.

  56. Your right, I didn’t need to know those things but seems like from most of the comments it was Grant tying up loose ends from RIP that really did it for people

    Like I said I liked the first 2 issues and actaully getting all the batbooks right now. Guess I just didn’t like this one as much as others.

  57. @paulmontgomery: "Pyg makes the Joker look well adjusted."

    Thread comment of the week! And oh so true. Though the dancing did seem to tip him a bit too much toward "comical" and away from "creepy." That’d be my only quibble with this issue.

  58. But did it have time quantam physics? No? FAIL!

  59. @JumpingJupiter – But it did have intertemporally complex storytelling and lots of face kicking/punching.

    P.S. I think you mean quantUm. Please return your nerd card to your local representative for shredding.

  60. I cant wait to read this.  I have to wait until tomorrow.  The art is so sick.  He is really amazing.

  61. I’ve been beaten in a nerd fight.

  62. @JumpingJupiter – It’s ok.  WonderAli still loves you http://www.murmur.com/lifestyle/i_3_geeks.html 

  63. Was it just me or was Pyg’s dance sequence reminiscent of Flashdance?

  64. This was indeed a great issue, but not my pick.  I had a ton of 5 star books this week, but the one that tickled my fancy the most was Flash: Rebirth.  I thought the concepts that Johns introduced in the issue were really clever and Van Sciver’s art was amazing.  This was a good week to be reading comics…for sure!

  65. I’ve been down with Damien since Batman & Son.  I don’t know why so many people hate him.  I think he will be the most conflicted Robin ever.  I can’t wait to read the arc where Jason Todd trys to bring him back to the dark side, you know he is gonna try sooner or later regardless if he is the Red Hood or not.

  66. These three issues made me a fan of Damien. Couldn’t stand him when Morrison first introduced him and the subsequent issues. Now he’s made him somewhat a more likable character. Well maybe I like him more because he’s a violent little bastard….but same difference.

  67. Wow. This was and was not a surprise choice for this week. I should’ve known that Conor would’ve picked this, but I have to say that, for me it was a close call between this and FF #570 and FF won out strictly based upon what Jonathan Hickman is doing with the characterizations of the Reed family as contrasted to what the Wizard is doing in this arc.

    It was really close though and I’m sad to see this Morrison/Quitely collaboration end so quickly. But we’ll see what happens next issue.  

  68. I need to know if Pyg’s "Sexy Disco Hot" reference is Grant Morrison pulling from a sketch out of the 90’s UK comedy "The Fast Show"! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piKeDrrOrsE If so: Warning. You may never look at the scene in issue 3 the same way again….

  69. This was my 2nd place POTW, my 1st place was flash: rebirth #4. I love the story telling and the art, what really won me over was the color scheme. I’m new to comics but so far Ethan Van Sciver’s art is my favorite.

  70. @ALS: I see Morrison as loving that clip.  So, maybe that is where he’s pulling it from.  Personally, I may be a bit scarred from where that donkey went.

  71. Hey did comissioner gordon get the pyg virus? the pyg flu? swine flu? if that is a concious decision by Grant to put in the book…that is radical!

  72. Another great issue. I’ll read anything that’s done by Morrison and Quitely. There’s something about the team up that elevates both guy’s work.

  73. A great issue, I’d put all 3 Detective Comics comics against all 3 Batman & Robins and pick the Detective Comics. This week though, Guardians of the Galaxy gave me an "Oh XXXX!" and that doesn’t happen often so I picked that for my POTW. Great books this week all around.

  74. i like morrison’s writing but when it comes to quitely art…. this is the first time where i feel let down by it, to me dick is always looking fat in the batman costume and to me theres sometimes where doesn’t catch the darkness of gotham so im quite happy he is now done

  75. Who does the inking and coloring? I couldnt find it on the site.

  76. If there’s one thing I learnt from this comic, it’s that my surname is also the sound someone makes while their face is coming off.

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