Reading The Road to Arkham drives you up to Arkham Asylum with the Joker in tow and drops you off right where the game Batman: Arkham Asylum begins.
It’s a short but good prequel to the game and there are several details that get us ready to the upcoming adventure:
- Oracle is working with Batman right from the start and see how their relationship works, with each bouncing ideas off the other as to how all these villains could have been so “easily” captured
- Black Mask is mentioned, someone we won’t met in-game as a major player until Batman: Arkham Origins. Nice name drop!
- We see the Joker go after the current mayor of Gotham, pre-Quincy Sharp. Not a huge plot point but interesting after playing through the games that we get Mr. Sharp’s precursor
- Zsasz makes an appearance, and it’s pretty clear you’ll be seeing him again soon
The Dark Knight’s instinct tells him that something’s off, that this was all a little too convenient as we arrive at the Asylum where his instinct will be proven to be dead on …
Spoilers for the Batman: Arkham City comic follow
The Batman: Arkham City prequel comic is a great direct lead-in to the game. Like Road to Arkham walked you right up to the start of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the City comic does a fantastic job of getting you ready to dive into the game that shares its name.
The strongest point of this work is how Dr. Hugo Strange is set up to be an intellectually equal opponent to Batman. Using both mayor Quincy Sharp and the Trask brother and sister to push Gotham to not only accept martial law but the building of Arkham City shows Strange as a master of getting events to head in the direction he wants them to go.
Strange’s machinations almost wipe out the Dark Knight, but thanks to Catwoman’s unlooked-for rescue he’s able to survive. Here again we see Dr. Strange’s obsession and study of Batman, almost catching him for the last time.
I enjoyed how Strange knew that Batman would come and search through Mayor Sharp’s files to try to find out more about him, then next simply observing Bruce’s movement as he infiltrated both Joker and Penguin’s gangs. Studying an opponent to find a weakness is something we’ve seen the Dark Knight do again and again, so here we see how Hugo’s methods stack up – they stack up well.
There are other details that add to the story; Harley Quinn saving the Joker from guards who wanted revenge, the perspective of the Joker that they “got in” to Arkham first and could set up a new criminal enterprise unencumbered, etc. These points give us more insight into everyone’s head and where things are headed.
Strange gets the final word in the last issue (“Exposure”) however, and it’s fitting as he lays out his strategy and the current state of the Arkham-verse going through each of the other players in the drama, how their goals (and indeed their persons) are inferior to his, and how Batman is his only real opponent:
Only you are capable of comprehending the true stakes of this life and death game.
Hugo Strange’s summation is the perfect send-off for this story and setup for the next one. Well done.
I’m marching towards Batman: Arkham Knight and before playing it I want to wrap up any extended lore from the previous games. First up, the Arkham Unhinged comic book series.
There are 58 issues is all and the canonization is a bit fuzzy as things don’t always match up with the games but I think there are elements that can be mined to enhance one’s experience of the Batman Arkham series.
Unhinged has been described as a prequel but it goes all over the all place. While this makes it Continue reading →
This is the third entry on my play through of Batman: Arkham City. Be ye warned that there will be spoilers for as far as I’ve played and please avoid spoilers for me if you have any comments concerning future segments of the game
I continue to be amazed at how much Batman there is in this game. If you were someone new to the Dark Knight’s now seventy-seven year public history, you could play this game and get it – get what Batman is all about, from the characters to locations and motivations driving everyone forward. It’s great stuff.
The way the gang activity is portrayed throughout the story is well done. The chatter of the thugs gives you a ground up perspective of the events you are reacting to, and enhances the environment around you by giving it more history (if even very recent history).
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