Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight: Genesis #5 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Art By: Dexter Soy, Dave McCaig, Deron Bennett
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: December 16, 2015

You Scratch My Back, I’ll Shoot Yours

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

After watching Jason “Arkham Knight” Todd get brutally beaten and brainwashed by the Joker and his stooges for two issues, I was hoping we’d get a little reprieve for the penultimate installment of this miniseries. Perhaps the Joker would have a change of heart and take Jason to DisneyWorld, or maybe Jason could show the inmates of Arkham Asylum that hey—we’re all together in this wacky world; whether we’re crazy or sane, criminal or crusader, beautiful or horribly twisted by the Titan serum into a tumescent mountain of a man hellbent on destroying everything around him. Well, that doesn’t quite happen, but Jason does make a friend in Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson, and by “makes a friend” I mean “hires a mercernary.” We’re back to the origin story of the Arkham Knight and this time we don’t need our barf bags. Feel free to read on, even if you’re eating!

Explain It!:

This book earned serious points right out the gate with the inclusion of the Pizza Rat. For those that don’t know, the Pizza Rat was a rat from New York City that was filmed in late September taking a piece of pizza down a flight of subway stairs. Here, you can check it out for yourself.

This rat captured the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and urban sophisticates everywhere, and it was delightful to see this foodie rodent open this issue of Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis. There’s not a lot of point to the scene, but it did tickle me even up to the last panel on the page when Jason “Arkham Knight” Todd crushes it under his boot.
Pizza Rat, we hardly knew ye.
Jason, looking like a hobo, is on the outskirts of a rally for the rebuilding of Gotham City after the events of Batman: Arkham City, where Bruce Wayne is the guest speaker. Todd, if you will recall, has a bit of an axe to grind with Bruce due to abandonment issues, so he slinks away from the rally and into an abandoned subway station where Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson is hanging out. After the traditional asshole’s greeting of trying to kill each other, Slade shows Jason a present: a prototype drone tank just like the ones you’ve learned to hate if you played the Batman: Arkham Knight video game. Slade promises to deliver a bunch of them along with a standing army trained in South America, standing armies being that continent’s third major export after coffee and drugs.

Seeing that his plan to destroy Gotham City and humiliate the Batman is coming to fruition, Jason reminisces back to two years ago, during the final events depicted in Batman: Arkham Asylum that leveled the institution and allowed Jason to escape. Deathstroke is there, hired by the Joker to kill Todd (presumably under the “if I can’t have him, no one can” clause), but Jason convinces Wilson to defect from the dark side and join an even shittier, darker side. He is promised a bunch of money, so Slade helps Jason escape and they make off in the chaos created by the boss battle at the end of Arkham Asylum.

Later, we see Jason Todd is wearing Deathstroke’s mask and breaking into Wayne Enterprises while Slade watches him through a sniper rifle, because apparently assassins aren’t allowed to have binoculars. The funniest part is that Jason is still wearing an orange jumpsuit from Arkham Asylum, like Deathstroke was fine to lend him the mask but he wouldn’t let him touch the leather jacket. Jason cracks into Bruce Wayne’s computer and funnels a bunch of money away, but he’s first spotted by Tim “Robin” Drake, who tries to stop Jason from jumping onto a waiting helicopter but fails. He believes Deathstroke committed the crime, which is all that matters because Jason needs that money for drone tanks and comic books.

I enjoyed this issue a lot, though it was a pretty fast read. The art, as with most of this series, is very good and there are some plotting choices I really liked, for instance when Jason jumps from Wayne Tower onto a rope ladder dangling from a helicopter, or even the opening Pizza Rat scene. I enjoyed seeing how Jason’s insane army of goons and drones was initially funded, and the fact that the money came from Bruce Wayne made it more delectable. Nearing the end of this miniseries, I doubt anyone would jump on now, but I was glad to see an issue of fairly normal superhero action instead of panel after panel of a restrained Jason Todd being brutally beaten and dosed with psychoactive drugs. It’s made me a lot more sympathetic towards the Arkham Knight, which I suppose was the point of it, but it was a little much to bear and this book reads like a breath of fresh air in comparison.

Bits and Pieces:

Now we are getting to the Arkham Knight portion of this origin story, when Jason Todd amasses the money and technology that would eventually allow him to dominate Gotham City. This is just a nicely-executed comic book and it was fun to read, even if it was over sort of quickly. But that’s how it goes in Gotham City, baby, one minute you’re Batman’s sidekick and the next minute you’re an angry douchebag with ludicrously elaborate revenge fantasies. Do you think this is how Pizza Rat started, first the butt of internet jokes and humiliating memes, and now one of the frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination? The mind reels.

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