The video game sequel to the extraordinary Batman: Arkham Asylum won't be released until October, but starting today a new comic, Batman: Arkham City, is bridging the two Arkham games' gap. That compelled me to rush to the comics shop to find out what's next in this saga.
If you've been following the pre-release coverage of that upcoming Arkham City game, the plot of today's first issue won't be a surprise. But you, like me, might spot some clues and this version of the Batman world and the upcoming game.
The comic is set a year after Arkham Asylum. Quincy Sharp, formerly the warden of Arkham Asylum is now mayor of Gotham City, though he's taking orders from an obscured malevolent psychiatrist (already revealed outside the comic as Hugo Strange). In the first issue Sharp begins rallying the city with his idea of a Gotham without costumed heroes or villains. Batman, meanwhile, spends the issue trying to track two new villains, a brother-sister duo known as T&T. Something important blows up and, by issue's end, we learn of the plans for the creation of something called Arkham City.
The comic, like the games, is written by Paul Dini, so it's reasonable to assume there will be strong thematic and narrative continuity through the five-issue comics series and into the game. With that in mind, what to make of the following?
The Joker, demoralized after his battle with Batman at the end of Arkham Asylum—during which he pumped himself up on the video game's version of steroids, a drug called Titan- is depressed.
Pro-Batman reporter Vicki Vale makes one of the saga's rare references to other costumed heroes. Dossiers in the first game said Robin exists in this Bat-universe, though he's yet to be seen. The new game prominently features Catwoman, but is she what Vale would call an ally? Hmm....
The aforementioned drug Titan is still in play in the comic, a disappointment for those Arkham Asylum gamers (me!) who were tired of battling drugged-up bruisers well before the game stopped trotting them out.
And then there's this... new Batman power? In the first game, we could make Batman climb to a perch and then drop down on bad guys. But what if the soles of his feet were explosive? Don't tell me that would blow his feet off. This is Batman we're talking about, and this sure looks like a viable new Bat-power to me.
The first issue of Batman: Arkham City is in stores now. The next one will be out on June 8.