Or – “They Call Him MISTER Pyg!!!”
When Wally West stepped into his mentor’s shoes 23 years (or, in DCU time, 19 weeks) ago, he faced the difficult challenge of living up to the legacy of Saint Barry.Â When Connor Hawke took over as Green Arrow, his biggest challenge seemed to be explaining why he wasn’t as lecherous as his pops.Â When Kyle Rayner became Green Lantern, his mask looked like a crab made out of Tupperware.Â Now that Richard Grayson has taken over the role for which he has prepared since the age of 8, his biggest problem seems to be not punching his “little brother” in the face for the kid’s sheer arrogance…
Previously, on Batman And Robin:Â With Bruce Wayne either dead or somehow trapped in a cave inÂ the Pleistocene Era, Dick Grayson has finally stepped forward and fully embraced the mantle of the Batman.Â Accompanied by Damien, the illegitimate son of Bats and Talia Al Ghul, as the new Robin, Dick has approached his new gig as a “great role” that he must perform (a brilliant piece of advice from Alfred Pennyworth) and has managed to fool at least some of the denizens of GC into thinking he’s the original.Â A new looney tune called Mr. Toad has come to Gotham and brought with him a group of like-minded psychopaths called the Circus of the Strange.Â When Toad turns up dead, Batman and Robin get involved, and Damien’s Percival-Cox-worthy ego leads him to strike out on his own against the Circus, only to find that just having good genes isn’t enough to keep you from getting your ass kicked by a bearded lady.Â The kid gets bagged by the villains, leaving the former Nightwing to his own devices.Â How do you manage to strike fear in the hearts of villains when you don’t have the Batman-darkness-and-drive in your heart?
By grabbing a suspect and dragging his face inches from the pavemen at 80 miles per hour, apparentlyÂ “ARE YOU READY TO TALK?” snarls the Batman, and the flaming perp decides that, yes, he is somewhat attached to his facial skin.Â Batman delivers the villain to the GCPD, leaving Gordon wondering exactly what he’s dealing with.Â Elsewhere, Professor Pyg (the mysterious leader of the Circus of Crime, possibly) tortures random innocents while Robin watches and sneers.Â Pyg suddenly breaks out into a stream of consciousness rant, and begins dancing and stripping while Robin works free of his bonds.Â “I’m an artist!” cries Pyg, “Who can expect me to work on anti-psychotics?”Â Â The Professor orders his underlings to put the rubber facemask on Robin,Â and Damien channels his grandfather for a moment.Â “You just defined ‘wrong,'” says the Boy Wonder, leaping into action, and brutally attacking (probably killing some of) the henchmen gathered around him.
As Damien breaks free, Dick breaks in, finding that Pyg’s faceless groupies aren’t carrying explosives at all, but viral weapons designed to infect Gotham City.Â Damien is aided by a girl named Sasha, whose face Pyg HAS succeeded in replacing with a rubber doll head, but the kid abandons her to her fate to take down Professor Pyg.Â Batman arrives just in time, distracting Pyg lng enough for the Dynamic Duo to kick him into unconciousness.Â Batman finds the antidote for the virus (in a vial marked “Antidote”) while Robin marvels that “big brother” saved his life.Â Mr. Pyg is taken down, but Batman finds an ominous sign: a domino like the one found near the body of Mr. Toad, only one number down in sequence.Â “So who killed Mr. Toad?” wonders the Dark Knight, and the Commissioner realizes that the madness is just beginning.Â Batman and Robin track down one of the villains who attacked durin RIP, and leap into action together, having finally worked out most of their immediate stresses.Â Meanwhile, Sasha the doll-girl (lost during the battle with Pyg) is approached with a job offer…Â “If you can’t trust the Red Hood,” says her new boss, “who can you trust?”
The entire first arc of this series has had an extremely unsavory tone (owed partly to Quitely’s art, and partly to Morrison possibly being bonkers) and this whole issue maintains that tone throughout.Â The setup of Sasha as an ongoing character is nicely done, and Damien’s realization that perhaps Dick Grayson isn’t useless after all is a subtle character moment for a character who doesn’t really do that much subtle.Â I like the art, I like the overall storry here, especially the ease with which Jim Gordon seems to realize that this isn’t his usual Bat-buddy.Â The new villains are creepy, and the setup for something even more sinister is achieved without telegraphing the relevant plot points.Â I don’t have Stephen’s love/hate relationship with Morrison as gonzo-storyteller, and I have found this new Dark Knight to be extremely entertaining, new and different.Â It’s a reversal of the old dynamics, but it’s working and working well.Â Batman and Robin #3 earns an unexpected 3.5 out of 5 stars, managing to be skin-crawling, super-heroic, and bug$&%# crazy all at once.