This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.
This week: the Batman: Arkham Knight comic prequel.
If you’re a gamer and a comic fan, then there’s a really good chance that you’ve played the Arkham series of Batman games. Starting with Arkham Asylum, the sequel (and still my favourite of the bunch) Arkham City, to the finale Arkham Knight, the franchise also delivered Arkham Origins – though this prequel, released after Arkham City, was developed by a different studio and doesn’t compare as well to the other three despite still being a really good game. The games’ story is remarkably robust, and at the time caught a few people off guard with the quality and detail (remember, the first two were released before video game stories were up to the quality you see in God Of War or Red Dead Redemption 2), leaving many a comic fan with the first true experience of playing as the goddamn Batman.
Of course, being a comic based game series, there have been various tie-in series released over the years, which is where this column comes in, with a look at the prequel to Arkham Knight, the series finale.
Written by Peter Tomasi with art by an all star cast of creators such as Vikto bogdanovic, Art Thibert, Ig Guara and Julio Ferreira, this book is far better than your average movie or video game tie in. And yes, it did take me far longer than it should have to realize that this was the second volume, but that didn’t lesson my enjoyment of the story at all. If anything, the best way to really look at this book is as an Elseworlds tale (which ultimately it is, just under a different moniker. where you’re not going to know the full story unless you play the games as well.
This gives the Arkham universe a unique interactive element to them not found in either comics or videogames alone. There’s no harm in not reading this book if you’re a gamer, just as there’s no real reason not to give this a look if you’re a comics fan – though if you’re not familiar with the game’s story then you may have a slightly harder time, but no more so if you started reading a series at the beginning of a story and not at the first issue.
If you’ve been reading comics, especially superhero comics, for some time then you’re going to be used to starting a story without knowing everything that came before, and so if you pick this book up with that in mind then there’s something here that you’ll be able to enjoy.
This a solid story, and one that I’m glad I found on the shelf.
This isn’t one of the defining runs or stories in Batman’s history, but it is a lot of fun – and that’s why it’s a great candidate for today’s Underrated column. Check it out if you ever get a chance.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.