Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis #2 Review and *SPOILERS*
Art By: Alisson Borges and Dave McCaig
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: September 16, 2015
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
Surely, the expectations that Batman puts upon his protégés are high. Yet, perhaps even higher still are the expectations Batman’s sidekicks put on him. When you are an icon, a symbol of justice and goodness, it isn’t possible for the person behind that symbol to fully measure up. So goes the second installment of Jason “Arkham Knight” Todd’s origin within the framework of the video game-based Arkhamverse, where we see flashback scenes of Todd’s earliest days as Robin and learn a little more about this dark character. Is Jason Todd’s teen angst interesting enough to warrant a look? Read my review and I’ll tell ya!
We begin in the present, which is several months before events in Rocksteady Games’ Batman: Arkham Knight, where Deathstroke (aka Slade Wilson) the Terminator is beating the snot out of the video game’s continuity’s Robin, Tim Drake. We see that the Arkham Knight is egging Deathstroke on over Bluetooth or whatever. I mean, I’m guessing it’s something connected to the mask, but I suppose it could be one of those earbuds with the coiled wire like Secret Service guys wear when they’re depicted on television. Arkham Knight’s chit-chat with Slade has weight because Jason hires his services during the video game to handle military security. Anyway, the fighting ultimately draws the attention of Nightwing (aka Dick Grayson) and now they’re really rumbling.
Jason Todd is watching from a vantage point and commentating in Deathstroke’s ear and then the screen goes all wavy and the faint, ethereal strains of a plucked harp can be heard as Jason goes into flashback mode. We find that the second Robin was a fairly impetuous little jerk, disobeying Batman’s direct orders and even screwing up a case involving Deathstroke because he let his emotions get the better of him. While this is happening, Bruce Wayne finally greases the correct palms to make Jason his legally-adopted ward, and we see that the relationship between Bruce and Jason is much more pleasant—but Jason just wants to be loved by Batman! This is a twisted version of Superman and Lois Lane’s traditional relationship. At Wayne Manor, we are told that Alfred has constructed a personal library for Jason, complete with a secret entrance to the Batcave which is probably what every adopted orphan has wished for since the 1940s.
After a while, Jason Todd bristles in his role as Robin: always playing clean up, getting people to safety while Batman tells him to stay out of his way. In some really well-executed front facial shots you can see Jason’s brooding resentment while he observes a fight between Batman and the Joker, who is wearing that awesome robotic exoskeleton he wore the previous issue. Annoyed at Joker’s taunts, Todd rams the Batmobile into the side of Joker’s suit, totaling it and the Batmobile in the process. The Joker runs off, daring Batman to follow, and Robin takes the bait, following him into a warehouse that immediately blows up in a massive explosion. Batman hangs his head, presuming Jason Todd to be dead.
Of course, if you’ve played the video game, or even read the beginning of this story, you know he’s not dead. How could he be having this flashback if he were dead? Back to the present which is taking place in the video game’s past, Arkham Knight breaks into some warehouse and steals tech or something to upgrade his vehicles—presumably the tanks Batman fights in Batman: Arkham Knight that cause a lot of headaches. Deathstroke was hired merely to distract the two Robins, as well as gain intel on their fighting skills. I can only assume that Jason also hired twelve other people to fight the other members of Batman’s cadre because damn there are a lot of character’s in the Arkhamverse.
You get a lot of the same as the last issue of this title. Alisson Borges and Dave McCain’s work is excellent though there aren’t any pages as dynamic as the Batman and Robin splash page from the first issue. The story is well-told and paced, interspersed with clips from the caper being pulled by Arkham Knight and Deathstroke in the present. It’s just not developing into as intriguing a story as I had hoped, which must be partially due to the fact that we all know the surprise conclusion of this story’s trajectory. I think the comic is worthwhile but only if you’re looking for a little more insight and a few more emotional beats than what you got in Batman: Arkham Knight.
Bits and Pieces:
There’s nothing specifically wrong with this comic, the art and plotting are done with expertise. I just wouldn’t expect this issue to grab anybody’s attention without prior interest in the Arkhamverse. We do get some more insight into Jason Todd’s motivations and learn about his time as Robin, to find that he really is a selfish little whiner. I think that was the point: the murderous Arkham Knight is, in fact, a dejected little boy. But damn, dude. That’s what they made beer for.