DC Comics “Batman: Arkham Knight” released last Wednesday. It’s the “official prequel to the Arkham Trilogy finale” that hits store shelves in June. Written by Peter J. Tomasi and illustrated by Viktor Bogdanovic, issue one is probably one of the most authentic Batman experiences you’ll get outside of in-continuity titles such as “Batman” and “Detective Comics.” I was immensely thrilled by Tomasi and Bogdanovic’s first outing together on The Dark Knight and have actually found myself anticipating next month’s release of the second issue. “Batman: Arkham Knight” issue one is a comic book and Bat-title that you do not want to miss.
I’m not much of a gamer and over the past few years I’ve probably tallied six games total. It’s hard for me to sit in front of a screen, press a few buttons, and continue onwards for hours when I’d much rather go outside and do it for real. I love the spirit of adventure and action, especially running and climbing. Yet, there are only two games to have captivated me in a way only cinema has; engaged me in the strongest and most viscerally exciting level to have kept me in my chair for hours – Sony’s “Uncharted” series and Rocksteady’s “Batman: Arkham” series. There’s just something extra about running, climbing, and exploring as Batman that just doesn’t translate into the real world. The games are flawless and have offered us one of the best, if not the best, take on Batman to rival Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy.” The story telling and attention to the DC world is unparalleled and makes for a game that fans and non fans alike go bananas over! “Batman: Arkham Knight” is the long anticipated conclusion to the series and it would not be a stretch to say that fans are awaiting the finale for this as rabidly as they awaited “The Dark Knight Rises” three years ago.
To understand the general plot of issue one of “Arkham Knight” I have to spoil a few developments near the end of the “Batman: Arkham City” game. During Batman’s battle with The Joker at the end of the first installment, “Arkham Asylum”, Joker takes Bane’s venom and becomes this gigantic, muscle-bound creature. Batman defeats him and we learn that the venom is slowly killing The Joker. In short, he’s dying. At the end of “Arkham City”, after quite a few entertaining plot twists, The Joker dies! Really. The Clown Prince of Crime dies and Batman drops him on a GCPD car. It’s a shocking end that truly deserves a standing ovation for the commitment to the story and unflinching spirit to endeavor to try something new. “Arkham Knight” picks up immediately after “Arkham City” ends and finds Batman heading home.
Issue one of “Batman: Arkham Knight” is perfectly written and feels like a direct relative to Scott Snyder’s “Batman” title. Peter J. Tomasi delivers a terrific first story that explores the consequences of the vow an 8-year old boy made to his murdered parents, a city at its latest crossroad of being lost forever in darkness or being rebuilt to see a brighter tomorrow, a clown still terrorizing others from the grave, and a new enemy that can’t be frightened or stopped – an Arkham Knight! Issue one of “Batman: Arkham Knight” is Tomasi’s best work yet. He has written a story that feels mature, dark, and haunting just as Snyder has created hit story arc after story arc within the pages of his Greg Capullo drawn series. Viktor Bogdanovic is an artist I’ve only met within the pages of “Batman: Arkham Knight”, but now want to follow into his other adventures. He’s a great illustrator and his work on “Arkham Knight”is just as strong as Capullo’s work on “Batman.” There are actually several panels in the book that are ripped straight out of Capullo’s playbook and it only adds to the beauty of this first issue. Batman remains shadowy, angular, and muscular and every supporting character is filled with so much depth and expressiveness. Every smile, grimace, and look demands a few extra minutes to explore the line work and pencils. Bogdanovic is an artist perfectly suited for this Dark Knight and has quickly joined the ranks of The New 52’s Francis Manapul and Greg Capullo. He is that good!
“Batman: Arkham Knight” is a title that works as an outstanding Batman comic, even if you are unfamiliar with the game universe. Peter J. Tomasi has written a story that fills you in quickly enough that you’re never left in the dark, yet a story so strong that it may just demand you to play the game. Simply put, if you call yourself a Bat-fan, then you need this book in your collection. Viktor Bogdanovic’s pencils and Art Thibert’s inks are enough to elevate this into high art and story telling as opposed to a simple cash in on DC’s part. This is just the kind of work that Marvel would benefit greatly from if they employed it within the pages of their Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-in comics. Issue two of “Arkham Knight” could not come out any sooner and thanks to the steady work on DC’s part, I will be continuing with this title along with getting a PlayStation 4 so I could devote a few of those hours I’d never devote to a video game because, after all, when would you not want to be Batman!?!
“Batman: Arkham Knight” issue one is out now and gets five out of five stars!