The Bat-Family are back baby! Well, they’ve never really been gone but despite their occasional appearances in the smash-hit Batman: Arkham games series we’ve never gotten a dedicated game focused on Batman’s numerous wards until now. Gotham Knights showcases Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl, Jason Todd’s Red Hood, Tim Drake’s Robin, and of course Dick Grayson’s Nightwing teaming up to protect a Gotham that’s left defenseless after the apparent death of Batman. Now, where might we have seen a story like that before…
Batman: Battle for the Cowl was a 2009 miniseries written and drawn by Tony Daniel, with inks by Sandu Florea, colors by Ian Hannin, and letters by Jared K. Fletcher. Taking place directly after Grant Morrison’s smash hit Batman RIP arc and the massive Final Crisis event, the story centers on a Gotham terrorized by the absence of Batman and a new hero using the mantle of Azrael. With Bruce seemingly dead after a fight with Darkseid, Dick grapples with the realities of his role as the oldest of the Bat-Family. Should he become Batman or keep on protecting Gotham as Nightwing? Just like Gotham Knights, we get plenty of Bat-Family action with multiple versions of the heroes starring in the miniseries and surrounding tie-in issues.
The new Gotham-set video game sees a spate of gang-violence spark a huge crime wave in the city, which is exactly what happens in Battle for the Cowl. With Batman gone, Tim Drake and Dick Grayson call upon other Bat-universe heroes like Oracle, Huntress, Cass Cain, Spoiler, and even the lesser-known British superheroes Knight and Squire to take down a criminal cabal of Gotham’s most famous villains seemingly led by Black Mask. The Arkham games have always featured a veritable smorgasbord of Batman rogues, so it’s likely we’ll see a ton in the new game, too. We also know that Gotham Knights will see the team take on the Court of Owls, a mysterious organization that seems to be behind the crime wave in the game’s vision of the city.
But the biggest difference from what we’ve seen so far in the trailers and the main Battle for the Cowl series is that Jason Todd seems to be on the side of his Bat-siblings. In the comic series, Jason was the primary antagonist, as he went on a murderous rampage to become Batman in his deceased surrogate father’s place. While Jason Todd had his villainous turn as the Arkham Knight in the last Batman game, Jason’s desire to become the next Batman could play into some wider conflict between the group, with Dick and Jason duking it out to become the next Batman.
Another interesting potential addition is the threat of a new brutal vision of Azrael. Originally introduced in the classic Batman arc Knightfall in 1993, the grim protector replaced Batman after he was broken by Bane. In the wider Battle for the Cowl event, the mantle of Azrael is reborn during the Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight tie-in when a guilt-ridden veteran and former cop, Michael Lane, is chosen to become the hero by the religious cult known as the Order of Purity. A new, dangerous vigilante could be a great reason for the kids to come together to protect Gotham, and it opens up a route for Azrael and his powerful Suit of Sorrows–which Talia once wanted for Damian, who we have yet to see–to become a playable part of the game and a potential ally.
It’s always nice to see the DC we love so much so directly influence the games. Whichever direction the game decides to go, we can’t wait to see the Bat-kids battling the Court of Owls and potentially saving Gotham for good.
Gotham Knights is out in 2021 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.