Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Arkham City #5

Cover by Carlos D'Anda

Arkham City #5 (August 24, 2011)
Writer: Paul Dini
Penciller: Carlos D’Anda
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Travis Lanham

As we approach the release of the new video game, Batman: Arkham City, it’s time to wrap up all the prequels and DC-approved speculation of the bridge between the original, Arkham Asylum. Having completed that game this summer, I am obviously excited about the sequel and extremely curious to see how it expands upon the first game (also how I feel about the inclusion of Robin and Catwoman). Damn, now I really want to play it again.

Anyway, Arkham City #5 wraps up the prequel series pretty neatly and without any major shockers or clues towards the game that I didn’t already know from trailers and fan boards. In fact, this comic felt incredibly different from the previous ones in the series simply because of how self-aware it was that must fade into the video game. All of the build-up has already happened and now it’s time to simply wait until the release date.

The majority of the comic focused on a concluding (and also prophetic) speech by Dr. Hugo Strange as he gleefully revels in the systematic and devastating mayhem he is about to unleash as the overlord of Arkham City. Hugo Strange is an interesting character to delve into simply because he is so egotistical and elevates himself so far above the other Batman villains, even the Joker whom he dismisses as too interested in chaos to really look at the big picture. I found his speech overblown but it worked because his ego is overblown. I am anxious to see how he differs from the Joker as the central antagonist of the new video game (because as those of us who completed it know, the antagonists are never as simple as they seem).

Dini really lowered the action in this comic and instead stressed a calm-before-the-storm feel. I was not expecting that and in hindsight, I think this was a smart and surprisingly exciting choice. Instead of being overwhelmed by action, I am even more excited for the game. I also have to say that as a Batman fan, I appreciated the conclusion of the comic: as Strange discusses his plans, each page is a full-page portrait of the central villains in the Batman canon: the Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, Riddler (and weirdly attractive one at that; I felt all confused inside), Poison Ivy and of course, the Joker. Though I am not a huge fan of his renditions of these characters, I appreciated the sheer amount of detail that went into his elaborate portrait. Now, how long until the video game comes out?

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