If We3 taught us anything, it’s that three issues of Quitely simply isn’t enough. And the joy at the perfect synergy demonstrated by he and Morrison over the opening arc of Batman & Robin (sorry… Robin & Batman) is tempered by the fact that we won’t see the artist again – save for on some gorgeous covers – for another six issues. Because you simply can’t imagine anyone working as well with Morrison for a common goal – hell, I’m not sure I can imagine any artist and any writer working as well together for a common goal as these two do – and this wonderful, vibrant explosion of deeply chilling fun is going to suffer as a result.
Yes, that’s right – I said “deeply chilling fun”. Because while the description of the series as being a dark and twisted version of the ’60s TV series may have initially seemed like little more than a punchy Mozza soundbite for Newsarama interviews, what’s truly surprising is just how much it’s followed up on. This book is all about surface trappings and straightforward a-to-z adventuring – no complex symbolism or layered investigative work to be seen – and has laugh-out-loud funny moments, and kinetic action, and even sees Damian doing the classic Burt Ward fist-into-palm gesture; and yet at the same time, it contains within its pages one of the most disturbing villain turns I’ve seen in a comic for ages. Pyg is a fascinatingly horrifying creation, rambling in a way that is at once dementedly incoherent, and yet beautifully and precisely constructed.
To be fair to Morrison, he sets up enough here that even if subsequent issues won’t have the same masterful visual storytelling (although, that said – for all that’s wonderful about this issue, and the action scenes in particular, Quitely does slip up a little in his clarity at one point – the last panel of Pyg’s closing appearance makes it slightly unclear what we’re actually looking at, with Julian and myself differing in our interpretations), there’s still plenty to get excited about as the series rolls on. Whether it’s the surprise introduction to the new Red Hood (and god, please let it be Jason – it would be the most masterful slice of parody), or playing with our expectations of time frame by taking us yet again to the periphery of the classic “Batman and Robin will NEVER DIE!” scene, the promise is made that these twelve issues will be another compelling chapter in the ongoing saga, rather than simply an amusing – if immensely exhilharating – diversion.