Sunday, July 31, 2011

Batman: Arkham City #3

Cover by Carlos D'Anda
Batman: Arkham City #3 (June 29, 2011)
Writer: Paul Dini
Penciller: Carlos D’Anda
Inker: Carlos D’Anda
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Travis Lanham

I’ve been avoiding the Batman: Arkham City comics mostly because I found the idea of reading comics about the upcoming video game abhorrent. I felt that I would be reading a commercial and it would be a giant gimmick trying to get me to buy this video game as soon as it comes out (which let’s face it, I totally am).

So on general principle, I refused to read any of the Arkham City comics. Then with a spur of the moment decision, I went what the hell? and read Batman: Arkham City #3. It’s out of five issues so it was probably a poor decision on my part but my overwhelming love for the Arkham Asylum video game blurred my faculties for a moment.

And while I went into this comic fully expecting to be cringing at the overt product placement, I was actually taken by surprise. It wasn’t half bad. Of course I missed the first two issues so I’m not exactly sure how the Joker managed to escape Arkham Asylum AGAIN (especially after being all toxin-ed up at the end of the first video game) or just why and how the Penguin is involved but nonetheless, it featured a fun look into both of these characters’ plans and strategies.

The plot of the issue follows Lester Kurtz, a former Arkham inmate with a long rap sheet. He is trying to decide whose gang to join: the Joker’s or Penguin’s. He decides to essentially try on both and first manages to impress the Joker and gain access into his lair. Continuing on his path of bad decisions, Kurtz jumps ship to see what Penguin has to offer. Of course, when the Joker realizes Kurtz has abandoned his gang, he is not pleased and all hell breaks loose. Kurtz escapes and we quickly realize Kurtz is not all we thought he was.

The best thing about this comic was the chance to delve a bit more into both villains’ plans. As nonsensical as the concept of big, burly, terrifying men allowing themselves to wear face paint at the insistence of a scrawny, extremely eccentric guy, I love learning more about his henchmen. I used to only prefer a Joker that worked alone but probably after many, many hours playing Arkham Asylum, the idea of him in control of a major crime organization appeals to me.

Even the Penguin had a pretty interesting set-up going and I am definitely anxious to see how this all plays out in the video game.

Kurtz was also a very strong narrator and gave the reader an interesting outside perspective of the Joker’s and Penguin’s stronghold on Gotham. Outside perspectives in comics tend to annoy me, such as the narrator in Brian Azzarello’s Joker. I remember I spent that entire comic wondering just who that narrator was and why the hell should I care what he had to say. Kurtz, however, was definitely gripping and I cared about what happened to him.

The art was pretty solid too, which was definitely tough to do as D’Anda had to mimic the art and atmosphere of the video games without looking too much like a piece of fanart. While the art definitely reminded me of the video game, it could definitely stand on its own.

So, I definitely proved myself wrong with this comic and actually plan on reading the rest of the series. I mostly want to do this, however, to satisfy me until Arkham City finally comes out, oh man.

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