Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kid’s Stuff Batman: Arkham City #1

Spoilers for Batman Arkham Asylum ahead
(like anyone but me hasn’t finished that game by now)

Writer – Paul Dini
Artist – Carlos D’Anda
Colorist – Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer – Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor – Chynna Clugston Flores
Editor – Jim Chadwick
July 2011

I gave up a long time ago on keeping up with the gaming world. There came a brief span of time in the early 90’s when I tried to play the “hot” games as soon as they were released. No more. I don’t have that kind of time. Haven’t for years.

Know that one guy that hasn’t finished Arkham Asylum? The Batman game that came out in 2009? That guy is me.

Sorry, but the version I have is for the PC and I can’t seem to get past the Bane part. That dude gets me every single time.

That means that this issue spoils the end of Batman: AA and I feel a bit bad about that. Not that it is a real shocker that the game ending is a pumped up Joker, seen on page one here.

No, not really a surprise. But I do feel spoiled in knowing how it ended given I didn’t EARN that knowledge. Here we go anyway.

Joke was defeated, of course, even in this pumped-up, muscle-bound state. And the effects of the drugs he took to get to this state have left him much worse for wear.

He’s so gravely torn up that he will die long before he can escape again, and the ravaging effect of the drugs called the Titan Formula have left him to weak to be a threat to Batman ever again.

Even as the Joker accepts the bitter irony in his fate, I want to mention that D’Anda’s art in this book fits both the game and the Batman mythos. I love every panel of it and seeing how he renders these takes on the classic Batman characters as vibrant, colorful beings that work in the context of real people is a credit to his skill. Likewise, with Dini’s scripting and dialogue. I don’t know how many of these text boxes are lifted from the game, but all of this feels like a great start to an exciting Batman story.

We move on to Harley Quinn, acting more like what I expect from her given the character’s B:TAS origins. I know that DC needs winning female characters and turning her into an anti-hero like they did Lobo works in favor of all that. However, to me THIS is the real Harley. She’s a homicidal maniac that would kill you in the blink of an eye to satisfy a whim of her devoted, abusive Joker. Trying to justify any turnaround in the character has to somehow address her mental issues and there’s where a “good-gal” Harley Quinn book falls apart for me.

Getting back to our storyline, hearing how bad Mr. J is doing makes Harley vow to save her beloved psycho.

From there we head to Mayor Sharp, the former Warden of Arkham Asylum and the guy I was supposed to rescue in that first game. He appears to be under the mental control of some shadowy figure showing up on his computer screen. A shadowy figure up to no good, too.

He jumps on the air spouting a bunch of political rhetoric about how he’s made the city safer (he hasn’t) and how he has a plan to keep it safe (he doesn’t, his master has a plan to take it over). Our reporter Vicky Vale (yay, History!) has a few words to take the wind out of mind controlled sails.

That mysterious head-in-a-Skype-window guy also has the Mayor wired for sound, using an earpiece to feed him instructions.

Jim Gordon, watching the broadcast, knows the true score though. That’s why he turns to this man to help.

Given the task of bringing in these two, Batman starts his search with Two-Face on a hunch from Oracle that he’d likely be unable to resist hiring them.

After a brief scuffle with Two-Face’s doormen, Batman confronts the villain face to face (to face?... Maybe.). Dent decides to play good guy and gives Batman some friendly information about the pair.

Great. More Titianized enemies to fight. That’s what I needed. I couldn’t even get past Bane. I should have saved my money instead of buying that two-pack off Humble Bundle.
Anway, Harvey gets some guff from his gang for letting Bats leave unscathed, to which he answers thusly.

Yes, yes! Those pesky Trasks are in the process of “Titianing” it up right as the Mayor gets underway. Note that all of them are puppets dangling from the strings of the mysterious man we saw earlier on Sharp's computer screen. Methinks this is all part of a much grander plan.

Batman doesn’t, knowing only the immediate threat to Mayor Sharp and the collected journos and crowd. He arrives armed for bear (notice him swooping in way in the background of the first panel?) and has the Trasks on the ropes.

Which sadly plays exactly into the puppet-master’s hands.

T&T live up to their name here…

And the destruction they cause lays the groundwork for the beginning of Arkham City. Sharp declares a sort of “Martial Law” in Gotham, walls off a section of the city and begins…

…a huge curtail of civil liberties…

And there you have the intro to the game. I would like to point out that most of the time I don’t buy into game tie-ins because they tend to be unsatisfying in how they conclude. It looks as if Arkham City will actually work like a standard comic with a true arc following the story you get if you play through the video game. I’m excited for that and since the art and writing meet my standards for enjoyable, I will pick up more if I find them out there.

Plus reading these gives my button mashing fingers a much needed rest.

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