Greg Hunter

Comic Preview: Batman and Robin #3

In Comics on August 25, 2009 at 2:41 AM

Pyg

I’ve written briefly about Batman and Robin before, but not at The Gutter. To catch up, click here.

So far, Grant Morrison’s time spent writing Batman been simultaneously like and unlike the recent work on DC Comics’ other flagship titles. There has been, arguably, a deeply conservative character to most of the editorial decisions made at DC in the last decade. Hal Jordan has returned as DC’s (primary) Green Lantern, and more recently, Barry Allen as the Flash. These characters, both of whom were created in the late fifties, replaced the younger characters who had been DC’s Flash and GL for the last ten or more years. The implication is that Jordan and Allen are the definitive versions, never mind that they were also originally created as attempts to modernize an earlier concept.

Some fans have loved DC’s decision to bring back Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. Others, like me, think it’s a victory of nostalgia over the impulse to tell new stories. It might just be a matter of whether or not one likes the work of Geoff Johns, the writer who supervised the returns of each character. Like Johns, Morrison has shown an keen awareness of comics history during his tenture writing Batman. His “Batman R.I.P.” story arc, for instance, drew on a particular Batman comic several decades old. But if both writers have done some excavating, Morrison (along with collaborator Frank Quitely) has worked alchemy as well. The first two issues of Batman and Robin had the rarest of things for a mainstream superhero book–the resounding feeling of newness.

Professor Pyg, the new series’ first antagonist, is a stand-out example of Morrisonian alchemy. With a pig mask, bow tie, and gaudy blazer, Pyg wouldn’t be out of place in the ’60s TV series–but he’s not written as a campy throwback. And even though Morrison has overtly given Pyg the qualities of a traditional Batman villain–colorful but grotesque, unbalanced but possesed of his own form of logic, a performer–Pyg functions as more than a “meta” Bat-character. Thanks in no small part to Quitely’s pencils, Pyg is a successful synthesis, with one foot in outlandish mid-century stories, another in post-DKR grimness, and a snout (sorry) in the ’90s animated series that previously incorporated parts of each. Batman and Robin #3, the end of Pyg’s storyline and (temporarily) Quitely’s time on the series, is out Wednesday.

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