Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Batman: Arkham Unhinged: Vol. 2 (2014)

Author: Derek Fridolfs  |  Artists: Various  |  Page Count: 168 

Penguin’s been hiring people to kill you.”
“That old crow’s wasting his money. I’m already dying… of boredom.”

The second volume of video game tie-in Batman manages to outdo the first, but unfortunately it's on the scale of tedium that it excels. Being tied to a game plot limits the freedom an author has, and at the end of the day any changes made must be reset so that everyone is returned to their game setting. In a situation like that the dialogue becomes even more important than normal, so extra effort should've been made to spice it up as much as possible, but—no disrespect to Fridolfs, perhaps he was busy with other, more important projects—the majority of it could've been written hastily over a light breakfast.

Robin pops in and out of the walled city as if it's a twenty-four hour supermarket, making a mockery of the idea that it's supposed to be near impossible to escape from. Whilst there he becomes an ineffectual bit player in what amounts to an extended fight scene that goes nowhere interesting.

The Arkham City Sirens story fills in some of what happened to the trio of women after the events in the first game, but mostly it feels like an excuse to have ladies with back-breaking breasts jumping around. The three women are at least largely faithful in personality to their game counterparts, which is to say they lack any kind of warmth or likeability; even the colourful Harley, who's admittedly a love-her-or-hate-her character ordinarily, never escapes two-dimensionality.

The only part of the text that I enjoyed was a flashback to a time years before the walled city was in existence, a time that deeply affected one of the villains and set him on the path he's currently on. It's not in-depth enough to be called an origin story, but it's an insightful glimpse into what spurred him to take the first steps into his current career. It was a clichéd moment but because it dared to be dramatic it still managed to feel superior to anything else. Repeated use of flashbacks would eventually draw too much attention to the technique, but the distance it provides from the walled city seemed to have given Fridolfs the space he needed to better express himself creatively.

The book collects together Batman: Arkham Unhinged issues 6–10.

2 punch bag thugs for hire out of 5

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