Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Arkham City: The Order of the World #4 Review

There Is No Order In This World

Written by: Dan Watters
Art by: Dani
Colors by: Dave Stewart
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
Cover art by: Sam Wolfe Connelly
Cover price by: $3.99
Release date: January 4, 2022

Arkham City: The Order of the World #4 challenges Dr. Jacosta Joy's world view by showing her the ghost of Amadeus Arkham does exist (or does it?) while Azrael continues hunting down former Arkhamites, putting Dr. Joy directly in his path.

Was It Good?

Arkham City: The Order of the World #4 is more enjoyable for its spectacle than for anything meaningful. I was rightfully intrigues with the first issue because it gave readers are darker and grittier (as if Gotham isn't gritty and dark already) view of Gotham but told from the perspective of Dr. Joy and the Arkhamites. In other words, a Gotham book without the Bat-family. That's an opportunity to tell a fresh, new story that's loosely connected to a familiar world.

However, different isn't always better. Where I was more upbeat on issues #2 and #3, issue #4 regresses to a concern noted in issue #1 - a lack of clarity about the story. The main gripe with this story is that there is no clear story. 

There's no clarity about who is the main protagonist (Is it Dr. Joy? Is it the Ten-Eyed Man?Is it the Detective?). There's no clarity around what any of the characters are doing (What spell is Ten-Eyed Man trying to cast? Why is Azrael killing escaped Arkhamites?). In short, there's no rhyme or reason to anything that's happening. Dark and weird things are happening but there's no sense of direction, purpose, or that Watters has an actual story.

You may think that cool moments can be enough to carry are mini-series through. Sometimes you may be right. But, Dani's art isn't helping matters any in this issue. Dani's art style is, to be fair, very stylized and it frequently looks like it's aping Frank Miller's Elektra run. But there's a difference between stylized and sloppy, and the art is periodically sloppy in this issue. When you have an action scene with Azrael swinging a sword, and you can't tell what just happened, both from the panel composition and the panel transitions, that's a problem. If you pick this issue up, you'll know it when you see it, so yeah, there's no excuse for that.

Bits and Pieces:

Arkham City: The Order of the World #4 ironically has bits and pieces (pun intended) of a story here, but it's not coming together after four issues. At points, the issue feels like the creators are jumping from one cool moment to the next but not heading anywhere in particular. Who are we supposed to care about? Does any character in this comic know where they're going? Couple the chaos of the story with stylized art that tips the line into sloppiness, and you get an issue (possibly a series) that's going nowhere.


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