Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Mahmud Asrar, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Wands, and Nathan Fairbairn
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November 8th, 2022
Batman has been on a breakneck journey throughout the DC Universe, from Wayne Manor to the House of Secrets and back again…but where there are clues there is a trail, and the world’s greatest detective has followed this particular trail back to where he and Superman began this journey: Lazarus Island. With an entire island and army at Damian Wayne’s disposal, does Batman stand a chance? Let’s dive into Batman vs. Robin #3 by Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar and find out!
Readers, set up is key. Foreshadowing helps explain ideas and themes that may appear later in the story. It helps the reader to better understand that the writer actually had a plan all along. Well, maybe it’s just older writers that still use this type of literary wizardry, BUT Waid shows fans exactly when and how Batman discovered what was truly off with Alfred. Sure, fans already knew, however, we wondered when this story beat would come back around and bite Batman in the $&@. So, the creative twist was Waid showing fans when and how Bruce knew at the last moment, which was awesome in this week’s Batman Vs. Robin #3! The sad and disappointing aspect of this is that I’m applauding Waid for the use of foreshadowing… which is something that seems so obvious to use. However, these young writers simply don’t. So sure, he gets the praise because it’s a solid technique that benefited the story well and at a pivotal time in the narrative.
Moreover, Waid takes a moment to hold the reader’s hand and provide a straightforward reasoning for what Nezha wants and why. We know the big bad’s plan and the purpose behind Batman Vs. Robin after three issues in. Readers, it’s ok for the writer to come right out and tell us the point of the story. Every story doesn’t have to be cerebral or ambiguous. Just like the opposite of how I felt after reading Dark Crisis on Infinite Earth #6, Waid irons out the plot and gets out a few of the pleats, but also leaves some questions to still discover. Damian’s motivation is still hanging out there. We probably have our speculations as to why he’s doing this BUT it’s not yet definitive. And that’s ok. Why? Because Waid gave us something tangible now that will hold us off for another issue.
Lately, event titles tend to put “baby in the corner” issue after issue without explanation only to magically get them out of their predicament with some type of epic sleight of hand. And hopefully, a few comic book writers are reading this as I say, that’s not what fans want at all. We want a steady rising action that’s logical, aligned with the characters, and makes sense with the subtle clues and carrots dropped by the creative team. Sure, there can be surprises along the way… as long as they make sense within the plot. However, leaving out crucial plot points to then reveal them as if we should have known them all along is just bad writing and makes for a bad story overall. Additionally, don’t paint yourself into a corner that can only be fixed by having some random hero or weapon show up at the last minute that doesn’t relate to the story well or has ever been introduced in the story until that moment. Now, I say all of this to show readers that this is exactly the OPPOSITE of what Waid is doing in Batman Vs. Robin #3 and has done so far which is why this story has been so rock solid.
If I was to give a deeper critique of Batman Vs. Robin #3 I will simply say that the gauntlet of old Robin’s was a bit too fast-paced. Batman made quick work of all of them, including Jason and Dick (no surprise). Plus, it’s not as if he really incapacitated any of them. It was almost as if they just… stopped. However, I did like the inner monologuing from Batman while fighting his wards. Plus, I liked the inner thoughts and reasons from the Robins as to why they’re so angry with Bruce. They all came from different vantage points of how Bruce let them down, which was quite fascinating. For all the good work Batman does to save the world time and time again, he still struggles with human relationships and putting family first. And that’s the cliffhanger without there really being a cliffhanger. Can Batman finally be a Dad to his own flesh and blood? Can he be… Alfred? I’m sure Bruce has thought of the other boys as his sons, especially Dick. But Damian is his own biological son. If Bruce can’t be a Father to him, he can’t be a Father to anyone. So, is that what this is all really about? We shall see as Batman Vs. Robin #3 wraps up.
The art by Mahmud Asrar is extremely polished and sharp. I was first introduced to Asrar as I was reviewing the Conan the Barbarian book by Jason Aaron. And can I say, his work was amazing then and has only gotten better since! He knows exactly when to put in a full-page spread and designs fight scenes and motion with such fluid expression. They appear almost natural. Moreover, his character detail and definition help add that extra layer of texture to the story providing a three-dimensional depth to the character that captures each fight and movement so well. Asrar is the perfect fit for this action story and balances Waid’s story well showcasing the proper emotion at just the right times.
Strong writing and narrative clues sprinkled throughout show the experience of this creative team and just how much of a class act Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar, and company truly are. Batman Vs. Robin #3 explains plot threads, motivates the antagonists, drops in some psychological beats for readers to think about with Batman, and all with just enough of a healthy dose of action to keep readers entertained. Balance the story with Mahmud Asrar’s incredibly detailed illustrations and fans get a thorough, well-developed story that’s turning into an extremely fun mini-event. I highly recommend Batman Vs. Robin, especially with Lazarus Planet waiting in the wings, and think it needs to be on everyone’s pull list. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!