You would be forgiven for throwing a little eye roll at Detective Comics when you heard that the main Batman villain of the latest arc would be the Arkham Knight. After all, very rarely do ideas that start in other mediums translate all that well to comics. Also, the Arkham Knight is…already spoken for in main DC continuity. (I can spoil a four year old game, right? The Knight is Red Hood and that game is basically Knightfall meets Hush).
You would be forgiven for it, but you would also be wrong for doing so. First, as we’ve discussed several times before, DC’s track record on comics adaptations is shockingly good. The various Injustice books have been fun, while the Mortal Kombat lead in books have been worthwhile additions to the series and the Arkham Knight adaptation book was high quality. Additionally, the Arkham Knight adaptation was written by Peter Tomasi, who is doing the work here to bring the Knight into main continuity.
Tomasi has quietly put together a body of work with the Bat-family that should be remembered as one of the all time classics. If you don’t believe me, go check out the arc of New 52 Batman & Robin where Batman and Two-Face team up. The last issue of that arc is Laughing Fish good.
Tomasi may be the only writer to this day who’s been able to really nail Bruce and Damian’s dynamic – odd when you think of how many seminal Batman runs he’s been writing concurrent with, but you only need one or two panels with them together to realize why Tomasi is so good at it. Damian is the same little shit he is everywhere else in the DCU, but there’s an element of childishness that you can both understand and empathize with. Bruce is vulnerable in a totally different way with Damian, and Tomasi walks the line of that vulnerability without making it seem forced or cheap or also inadvertently breaking the character with it.
We get to see some of that here in the preview of Detective Comics #1004 that DC sent along, but mostly we get a piece of the Arkham Knight’s very different origin. It’s an interesting addition to Batman’s rogues that goes off at right angles from your expectations. The story is helped along by artist Brad Walker, who you should really know from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s formative run on Guardians of the Galaxy. Walker is a little bit cleaner and cartoonier than you would expect from a Batman family artist, and that style works great on this story as it plays out more like a demented fairy tale than a brooding detective book. Here’s what DC has to say about the issue.
DETECTIVE COMICS #1004 written by PETER J. TOMASIart and cover by BRAD WALKER and ANDREW HENNESSYvariant cover by MARK BROOKSThe face behind the mask is revealed! Who’s taken up the mantle of the Arkham Knight? What’s their endgame? And what’s the shocking secret that Batman never knew about a part of his life he’d taken for granted?
Take a look at the lovely preview art below!