Warning: Spoilers for Batman and Robin #1 ahead!
- Batman and Robin #1 introduces the concept of splicing, a process where individuals inject animal DNA into themselves to gain animalistic features, similar to the depiction in Batman Beyond.
- The Terrible Trio in the comic transform into human/animal hybrids, retaining their human physiques but gaining the animalistic properties of their masks.
- The storyline in Batman and Robin #1 suggests that splicing may become a prevalent threat in the present day DC Universe, laying the groundwork for the future-noir legacy of Batman Beyond.
Batman Beyond introduced many iconic elements and foes in its Neo-Gotham. Now, one particular future Batman Beyond threat appears to have emerged to challenge Batman and Robin in the present: the scourge of “splicing” and the vicious human/animal hybrids it creates.
Batman and Robin #1 by Joshua Williamson, Simone Di Meo, and Steve Wands picks up in the wake of the Gotham War that has ripped Catwoman and the Bat-Family apart. This leaves Bruce and Damian now on their own in Bruce’s brownstone building. As the two work to contain a series of crimes comitted by various animal-themed villains, they find that each event is linked to the DNA research of one “Dr. Kafira.” When Batman and Robin attempt to rescue Dr. Kafira from being kidnapped by Orca, Man-Bat, Killer Croc, and the Terrible Trio, Damian knocks Fox’s mask off — only to find the villain’s human features have been replaced with the snout of an actual fox.
The rest of the Terrible Trio remove their masks to reveal that they, too, now have the heads of the animals they emulated. In the confusion, Man-Bat carries Dr. Kafira away and Batman is struck by a chemical pellet that causes a swarm of bats to attack him.
Neo-Gotham’s Scourge of Splicing in Batman Beyond
There is a lot here that seems to pay homage to Batman Beyond‘s depiction of splicing. Making their formal debut in the Season 2 episode “Splicers,” splicers are the product of Dr. Abel Cuvier’s attempts to introduce “splicing” — injecting oneself with animal DNA to gain animalistic features — to the public (while secretly using his army of splicers to violently silence naysayers, of course). Splicing has made its way into Batman Beyond‘s comic continuity as well, with Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Max Dunbar, Sebastian Cheng, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s Batman Beyond: Neo-Gothic miniseries featuring “catbois“: humans spliced with cat DNA who revere and name themselves after Selina Kyle.
The Terrible Trio’s transformation in Batman and Robin #1 is a perfect example of splicing, with the Trio retaining their human physiques while gaining the animalistic properties of their respective masks. Furthermore, the similarity between the names of Dr. Kafira and Dr. Cuvier, while not perfect, is not to be dismissed. Lastly, Batman is dosed with a strange chemical that causes bats to attack him; Terry McGinnis suffers a similar bat-related mishap in “Splicers,” when Cuvier injects him with a concentrated dose of vampire bat DNA.
Taken all together, this series of events suggests that this storyline is ready to establish the base research for splicing in the “present day” DCU. Perhaps the prevalence of splicing will grow into the scourge it becomes in the animated series’ Neo-Gotham. Splicing provided Batman Beyond with one of its most striking and iconic threats; by laying the groundwork for it now while Bruce and Damian Wayne are Batman and Robin, Batman Beyond secures yet another element of its future-noir legacy.
Batman and Robin #1 is now available from DC Comics.