Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis #6 Review and *SPOILERS*

My Two Dads

Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Art By: Dexter Soy, Dave McCaig
Letters By: Deron Bennett
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 20, 2016

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

We have come to the end of our six-issue sojourn through the dusty corners of Jason Todd’s mind, and it is bittersweet, my fellow Arkhamverse fans. We knew going into this that Jason Todd was Arkham Knight, we knew that the events of the video game had yet to play out, and still I was enjoying this flashback romp. All good things, etc., et cetera. If you read the first five issues of this miniseries, then I don’t see why you’d stop now. And if you haven’t read any of them, I can’t imagine why you’d start with the last one. So enough of the unnecessary soft sell! Read on!

Explain It!:

While Bruce is out getting empanadas, Jason “Arkham Knight” Todd breaks into the Batcave so he can hack into Oracle’s communications system. After making fun of Batman’s formidable security, Jason spies something strange: his Robin uniform suspended magically in a glass cylinder, lit by a single, doleful spotlight. This is something long-time fans of Batman comics have seen for twenty years, the weird and creepy shrine Bruce Wayne keeps to honor his murdered sidekick. Over time, he’s also been shown to keep other costumes in similar, singular cylinders (there’s your band name, you’re welcome) which is strange because 1) suspending your crime-fighting costume in a giant glass capsule is not really preferable to using a closet, and 2) it takes a little away from the dignity of Jason Todd’s memorial, like after he died Bruce just tossed his costume in its own pneumatic tube for lack of anything better to do. It’s sort of like how a bride spends umpteen dollars on a dress that she wears for one night and then stuffs in the bottom of some steamer trunk with sweaters she hasn’t worn since high school.

The sight of this uniform sends us to familiar flashback territory again, this time to the near-conclusion of the video game Batman: Arkham City: Batman is in a theater battling someone he believes to be the Joker, meanwhile the real Joker is very ill and manipulating one of his trademark overblown schemes from his veritable deathbed (play the game if you want to know the deal!) Jason is skulking along the catwalks, watching the fight unfold, when he encounters the real, sickly Joker! This is it! Jason is facing his tormenting mentor! Now, dear reader, is when the true deficits of comic book reviewing must be exposed: what follows here is essentially a long, tortured conversation between Jason and the Joker. And I can easily tell you the outcome of this conversation—Joker gives Todd the idea to become Arkham Knight—but I will have done the great dialogue a disservice. This is a cool scene, for those who have played the video games as well as for faithful readers of this miniseries. It doesn’t contain a ton of action (though they do get into a couple of scuffles of which Joker is the cackling victor) but it has a lot of what the kids today are calling the feels. I don’t actually love the idea of the Joker giving Jason Todd the idea to become Arkham Knight, it seems a little too pat. But I do love this scene, and if you’ve got any investment in these characters, then you will too.

Jason sort of pouts and is about to punch a picture of Batman and Robin sitting on the Batcave computer—yes, Bruce actually keeps a picture like it’s a day at the fucking office for him!—but thinks better of it and instead finishes his mission and bugs out. Deathstroke checks in to tell him that his army is ready and willing, and then it’s just a matter of setting into motion the events that precipitate Batman: Arkham Knight—which Jason freely admits is all to put Batman in his place.

After seeing the brutal tortures Jason went through in issues #3 and #4, it’s tough not to feel for this knucklehead. But then you have to remember that he held an entire city hostage in the video game so your heart won’t bleed too much for him. Dexter Soy and company do a good job arting up this issue, as they have through the whole series, but Tomasi’s writing runs away with the show in a conversation with Jason Todd that is thrilling and gut-wrenching in equal parts. If you haven’t read any of this series and you’re curious for whatever reason, then give it a try—but from issue #1, if you please.

Bits and Pieces:

I had a lot of trouble scoring this issue of Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis. It is a pretty talky comic book. But if you’ve been following the story all along, and know a little something about the Arkhamverse as presented in the Rocksteady video games, then you will definitely enjoy the dialogue. It’s been a good miniseries—not the greatest, but thoroughly enjoyable and consistent in the way monthly comic books should be. Hats off to Tomasi and Soy!


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