Thursday, November 19, 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis #4 Review and *SPOILERS*

When the Joker Asks You to Have a Seat, Tell Him You'd Rather Stand

Written By: Peter J. Tomasi

Art By: Dexter Soy, Dave McCaig, Deron Bennett

Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 18, 2015

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

There’s a persistent and pervasive belief that video games and comic books are kids’ stuff. A review of the facts, of course, proves this to be untrue: currently, the average age of video gamers is thirty-one, while any comic convention attendee will tell you that middle-aged fans comprise a large minority if not a full half of readership. You can get a crash course in how adult these media have become by reading Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis, a story at once too complex and too violent for younger readers who might still believe there is good in the world. Because there is no more good, my fellow Bat-fans, not in the Arkhamverse. Let’s check it out together, shall we?

Explain It!:

So we continue the engrossing and sometimes gross-out story of how Jason Todd became Robin became Arkham Knight. Last issue, we left off with Joker having shot him in a video he recorded for Batman, which for a lot of characters would be their end. Not Jason, though, Joker and Harley kidnap a surgeon who checks out Todd and gives him a clean bill of health. Joker settles up his own bill by shooting the surgeon in the face. Joker insinuates some devious plans for Jason Todd, which annoys Harley because she’s the jealous type. Flash-forward to the present where Harley has blown up a bank safe and retrieved its contents, only to be boosted by Mr. Arkham Knight himself in his full get-up.

Harley reminisces about the swell times she and Jason had, like when she waterboarded him for an hour until he woke up from his coma. Tied to a chair, he endured mind control drugs and electroshock therapy administered by Quinn, presumably in her official capacity as Dr. Harleen Quinzell, until Jason starts hating Batman. Against Dr. Harley’s pleas to the contrary, Joker determines it is time to step things up a notch and produces two mind-controlled inmates of Arkham Asylum, Catman and Blockbuster, who he then dresses as variant Batmans (from The Dark Knight Returns and New-Look Batman, to be specific) who beat the tar out of Jason Todd. What is it with Joker, anyway? Seems like his master stroke is always “tie Robin to a chair and have people punch the snot out of him.” This beatdown eventually frees Jason from his furniture, and he turns the tables on the fake Batmans to the delight of the Joker and the chagrin of Harley. Joker gives Jason a gun so he can shoot the Batmans, which Harley does first because she is like that jealous sibling that always has to prove she is more worthy of attention. Jason then blasts the second Batman, which could be the ultimate moment that turns him into the murderous Arkham Knight, except there are two more issues in this miniseries so I figure there will be more instances of him being tied to a chair and wailed upon. Back in the present, Jason tells Harley what’s what and takes off to harass other psychopathic clowns, I assume.

Peter Tomasi continues his brutal exploration of the pre-video game world of Batman: Arkham Knight, giving more insight into what could have turned Jason Todd from Batman’s willing partner to his nemesis. And what turned him was a lot of bullying and beatings, with some psychotropic drugs and electric shocks mixed in for good measure. Dexter Soy’s art is clear with some grittiness around the edges that works fine in a book where people are routinely shot and killed. Really impressive is Tomasi’s Joker, who reads just like the sadistic character in the video game. I don’t like the “official Joker lettering” font used for his dialogue, though. Makes me read his voice as being more sing-songy than as a screeching Mark Hamill.

Bits and Pieces:

We learn some more about how Jason Todd became Arkham Knight, and it turns out that it wasn’t quite a considered choice. This is a really violent comic book and is not for children, though the video game upon which it is based isn’t for children either, so technically no kids should even be aware of either’s contents. So since we’re all adults here, I would like to sell you on purchasing some insurance from the American Association of Retired Partners. Superheroes may not have a retirement plan, but we should.



  1. Jason definitely had it worse in the Arkhamverse. I really think this should have been shown in the game. It would have fleshed Jason's character out a bit. Loving this series though. Jason charater always deserved more attention. Now he's finally well known to the DC fanbase.

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